Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quick and Snuggly Baby Blanket

We make a lot of baby blankets around here. We love to visit the new mommies in the neighborhood and give them a little blanket for their newborn. It's a wonderful way to get to visit with people, and best of all... we get to see and hold the new wee ones!

I've gone through a few different versions of baby blankets, and I think I've found the one that we'll stick with. It's cozy, soft and simple. And it's warm, but still easy to fit into a diaper bag. Sometimes those big puffy quilts are just a little hard to pack around with you.

Basically, to make these baby blankets, you will start with a yard and a half of a cute printed cotton fabric. And also a yard and a half of a coordinating minky fabric. Wash and dry both pieces of fabric first. Very important to pre-shrink so that you don't have any of that happening afterwards. The two pieces of fabric will likely shrink at different rates, so that would make for a mess of a blanket if you didn't pre-shrink. After the fabric has been washed and dried, square up the cotton fabric so that the edges are all nice and straight and square. Lay the cotton fabric on a large flat surface, with the right side (print-side) facing down. Take your piece of minky, and lay it on top of the cotton fabric, right side up. Try to get one of the straight, factory edges of the minky lined up with at least one of the edges of the cotton fabric. Because of the usual width of the minky fabrics, you will have a good amount of excess. Smooth the wrinkles in the minky, so it's all nice and smooth. Then, cut the minky 1-1/2" smaller than the cotton fabric, on all sides.

After you've trimmed your minky to size, you will fold all of your cotton edges over the minky.

I fold it once, about 3/4 of the way to the minky, and then fold it once more, over the edge and onto the minky. And then pin. And I mean pin. Pin often, like every 2 inches. I know this sounds like overkill, but minky moves and slips a lot. If you don't pin often, you may have some slippage, and your blanket could be a bit skeewampus (if I can borrow that technical term from my dad).

When it comes to the corners, fold up the corner edge into a little triangle, and then fold up the rest of the edging, just as you've been doing, and continue on down the side of the quilt. Hard to explain, but look at the photo below for an idea of what I'm talking about. And don't forget to pin the corner down well.

And now for the sewing. Use a straight stitch and sew all the way around the fabric, fairly close to the edge of the pinned fabric. Take your time, and keep an eye on your presser foot so that your edge is about the same all the way around.

And voila! You are done. Easy as pie. In fact, I like to make several at a time, assembly-line fashion. It doesn't take that much longer to make more than one.

The possibilities are endless. I always find my pieces of cotton fabric first, and then find a minky to match. There are so many darling fabrics out there... makes it hard to choose!

I like to keep a stack of boys and girls quilts at the ready, so that whenever we have a minute to make a visit, I've got a blanket to take.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October Week 4: Stay Warm and Dry! - blankets, warmers, etc.

Today's food storage/emergency prep items are:

October Week 4: Stay Warm and Dry! - Wool blankets, emergency reflective blankets, rain ponchos, hand warmers

These should be items that you won't have to replenish every year. All of these items can be purchased at an online store such as Emergency Essentials, or you can also find most of the items at stores like WalMart.

I like the wool-blend utility blankets I got from Emergency Essentials. They were somewhere around $15 and measure a good-sized 60X80 inches. I also have some wool Indian blankets that I will keep in the stack in my emergency supply room. This is what Emergency Essentials has to say about their wool blankets:

Stay toasty warm with this fire-retardant, economical wool blend blanket. Comfortable, soft, and breathable, this blanket will keep you warm without trapping condensation or sweat against your body in cold weather. It measures 60 x 80 inches, and is 65% wool and 35% polyester. A great addition to any emergency or car kit.

The rain ponchos are $3.50, so very affordable. I think I will add a few to my supply so that I have enough for each of my family members, regardless of whether they live here at home or not. Just in case...

The PVC Poncho with Hood is a full-size cut and is made out of waterproof PVC Material. Keep one in your car and in your emergency kit, so you won’t be caught unprepared in bad weather. Lightweight and reusable. Each emergency poncho includes an attached hood. One size fits most.

The reflective blankets are very affordable, too. They're under $2.00, and can be critical in keeping body heat in. This is what Emergency Essentials has in their description about them:

This lightweight and compact blanket fits in any emergency kit or bug out bag. The Emergency Blanket’s unique reflective material maintains up to 80% of your radiant body heat to help preserve crucial warmth. The emergency blanket is large enough to cover from head to toe (84" x 52") or to wrap around the upper body front to back. Small enough to fit in a pocket. It's lightweight and waterproof. Thicker material than other reflective blankets of this size and price range. With an Emergency Blanket you’ll have a powerful pocketful of warmth.

I think I'll get a few more of those, too. Can't hurt to have plenty of them on hand.

And of course, hand warmers. If you've ever used these beauties when your fingers feel like they are so cold they'll fall off your hand, then you know they can really come in handy. Here in Utah, we get cold winters, and I can imagine how useful handwarmers might be in some wintery situations:

These hand warmers provide up to 8 hours of continuous warmth—in any place, at any time. Keep several on hand in emergency kits, camping gear, and the trunk of your car. The Hand, Pocket & Glove Warmers heat up in minutes. Ideal for winter sporting events, outdoor activities, camping, fishing, and other outdoor situations. Invaluable as an instant heat source in emergency situations. Environmentally safe and disposable. Inner contents are biodegradable. 

Decide what you and your family might need in an emergency situation. This is aside from your 72 hour kit, remember. Just imagine that your family is without heat, or without shelter for some time. What can you provide, in your emergency supply, to help your family through a catastrophe? If you have extra blankets in your home, you can stack those on the shelves, too. Make sure they're plenty warm and optimally have at least some wool in them.

Once you have decided what you think you'll need, start collecting the items. Purchase what you need either online or at a store. Get the items on your shelves and update your inventory sheets, and feel at peace that you have provided warmth and comfort for your family for an emergency situation.

If your budget doesn't allow you to purchase all of the items at once, begin with one or two of the items, and get them on your shelves. As your finances allow, add to your storage, or next year, when this week comes up again, finish up the list. Just be sure to do something this week, even if its just putting a few blankets on the shelves, or buying a couple of reflective blankets for a couple of dollars each.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Remember, for those who are working on 72 hour kits, we are on Task 2. Click the "72 Hour Kit" tab above to find the current information. You still have more than a week to gather the items for Task 2.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Surprises in the October Garden

Our fall garden clean-up is in full-swing. Everything seems to have given it's all, and is ready to be put to bed for the winter (that strikes a familiar chord with me). Anyway, it does feel good to get things cut back and pulled out and ready for the blanket of snow that will surely come.

This has been an incredible fall. Every day seems like a special gift. Here we are in October, and we're still experiencing temperatures in the 70's. Perfect. And because of these warm days and cool nights, there are little surprises in my garden.

The lilac bush seems to think it is spring. I have some gorgeous blossoms blooming as we speak. What a thing to see!  It makes me think of the lovely people I know who are lilac blossoms in the midst of October... spreading beauty wherever they go. Doesn't it make you want to be someone's lilac blossom today? 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

72 Hour Kits: Task 2 - Food

Now that you've found some containers for your 72-hour kits, we're going to start filling them... ever so slowly. If you were to look at my 4 page list of items, any sane person would be overwhelmed by it. It is a lot of stuff. But, if you and your family were living on your roof (if there was a flood) or camping in a parking lot down the street (you never know... ), you would probably need a lot of stuff. Hence the comprehensive 72-hour kit. Mind you, I'm not a crazy "the sky is falling, the world is ending" type of person. I'm pretty much the opposite of that. In fact, maybe it's in part because I have a pretty good storage of emergency items, that I don't think of those kind of dire emergencies, or world-ending catastrophes at all.

We are going to break this down into do-able tasks. And now that you have finished Task 1, you're ready to roll on to the next task. My 72-hour kit is made up of three separate containers: a five gallon bucket with a lid, a good-sized rolling cooler, and a small-ish duffel bag. When we had kids in the home, their items were kept in their own large school backpack. You can read more about containers (Task 1) here.

Task 2 will involve the food for your 72-hour kit. Now, I basically have two different 72-hour kit lists. One is for each of the kids' items, which are kept in their own backpacks. And the second list is for Bob and I. Even when we had kids in the home, Bob and I kept our food items combined with the main 72-hour kit (instead of us also having to carry backpacks for ourselves). I hope that makes sense. For those of you without kids in the home, you won't have to worry about a list for your kids' items. For those of you who have others living in your home, you'll want to keep up on both lists.

On to Task 2. I keep all of Bob's and my food items in the 5 gallon bucket. Again... when we had kids in the home, their own food items were kept in their own backpacks.

For the parent(s), the food items that are kept in the 5 gallon bucket are as follows:
-hard candy (1 package of something like Jolly Ranchers or Lifesavers)
-water bottles (4)
-chunky soup (4 cans)
-chili (2 cans)
-tuna (4 cans)
-granola/cereal bars (12 bars)
-peanut butter
-fruit leather (12)
-roasted, salted almonds (1 pkg)
-crackers (2 pkgs)
-beef jerky (2 pkgs)
-salt and pepper

For the kids' backpacks, the food items are as follows:
-hard candy (1 package of something like Jolly Ranchers or Lifesavers)
-water bottles (2)
-chunky soup (2 cans)
-chili (2 cans)
-tuna (1 can)
-granola/cereal bars (6)
-fruit leather (6)
-roasted, salted almonds (1 pkg)
-cracker/cookies (2 pkgs)
-beef jerky (1 pkg)

There will be some nay-sayers out there who think that this is too much or too little, or who think that we should be using dehydrated food so that it lasts longer and is lighter to carry. You can and should adjust this list for what you think your family might need. I try to keep in mind that we don't have to eat like kings for the 72 hours. We all will just need to survive, which I think we can do with this list. I don't like the idea of dehydrated food for my kits, because I don't want to have to rely on a stove to cook the food. All of the food in my kits can be eaten out of the can without warming it up, if needed. It may not be our first choice of how to eat it, but we could do it in a pinch. Part of our 72-hour kit is a little propane stove (which we'll get to later on), so we definitely could warm our food, but we wouldn't have to.

So, adjust this list to what you think you'll need for your family. And when you have a good list, start working on accumulating the items. It may take a couple of weeks to gather it. You could take from the stocks you have on your shelves, but be sure that the expiration date is at least a year away, so that you can rotate through the food when you check it next year. Put the items you need on a grocery list, and when you are at the store in the next couple of weeks, pick up the items. Once you have them, divvy them out to either your 5-gallon bucket, or your kids' packs, wherever they belong.

This is also a good time to figure out where you will keep your 72-hour kits. It should be in a place that is easily accessible for an emergency grab. A coat closet or pantry or some such place works nicely. We have ours in a closet right by the door leading out to our garage. We all know where it is, and it would be easy to grab during an emergency. Be sure to clear the space now and keep your containers there as we fill them.

Start working on Task 2. We'll give you a good couple of weeks to complete this task, and then we'll move on to Task 3.

To read each of the posts about the 72-hour kits, or to find instructions on how to receive an email with the complete 72-hour kit lists, click on the tab above. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October Week 3: Apples of all Kinds

This week's food storage items are:

October Week 3: Apples -- applesauce, apple butter, dried apples, apple pie filling etc.

Couldn't be easier. If you and your family eat apple sauce, estimate how much you will eat in the coming year, and either buy it or can it. Same goes with the apple slices. I like to can the dried apple slices at the Family Home Storage Cannery. They last for 30+ years, so they seem like a good thing to have around for those long-term emergencies. And since I have started drying my own apple-pears, I have some of those on my shelf also (and I'm told they'll last for at least a year). If you use any other apple product (apple filling, apple butter, etc), think about how much of that item you may need in a year's time, and write it down.

Make your shopping list of what you will need to complete this week's items, and in the next couple of days, get to the store. Once you have the items on your shelves, update the inventory sheet, and voila! You've got another good week under your belt.

Now, you may be saying to yourself that you and your family wouldn't eat apple sauce or apples slices, or any other apple product. If that's the case, then you will have this week to catch up on any weeks you haven't quite finished. But remember... in a long-term emergency, it may be really nice to have some dried fruit that you're able to eat in place of fresh fruit. Just saying.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Check back on Thursday for the second installment 
of our 72-hour kit plan!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Recipe: Apple Chicken Pasta Salad

This is a yummy, hearty salad that makes enough for a good crowd. In fact, I have made it as the main course, served with bread or crusty rolls. It's filling, and has plenty in it to feel like you've had a round meal.

Apple Chicken Pasta Salad

4 c. diced, cooked chicken breast
2 c. halved red grapes
1 20 oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
2 c. apples, unpeeled and diced
1 package bowtie pasta, cooked

8 oz. Kraft Cole Slaw dressing
1 c. mayonnaise
onion powder to taste
3/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
dash of thyme
pinch of ginger

Cut and combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a separate mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and fold in until all is combined. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October Week 2: Wraps and Bags

This week's food storage/emergency supply item(s) are:

October Week 2: Wraps and Bags - aluminum, saran wrap, wax paper, garbage bags, freezer bags, etc.

This week, you should decide on which items you use or might use in case of a long-term emergency. Aluminum foil has many uses in an emergency, so I keep a couple of rolls of that. I also keep plastic wrap, wax paper, garbage bags (kitchen bags and also a heavy-duty garbage bag), gallon size freezer bags, and baggies. All of these items, I keep on a non-rotating basis. So, I do my best not to delve into my supplies. But, I sometimes find myself without foil or baggies, or some-such thing, and I gratefully remember I've stowed some away for emergencies. 

Each year, on this week, I go down my inventory sheet and check that my supplies of wraps and bags are what they should be. If I have taken from my supplies sometime earlier in the year, this is the time to restock my shelves. I make a note of what I need and in the next couple of days, pick up the items at the grocery store. Then, I get the items on the shelves and update my inventory sheet. Yay! Another week of items on the shelves. It is SUCH a great feeling!

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

And remember... if you are working along with us on your 72 hour kits, you should be gathering the containers you will need. To read information on the current assignment for the 72 hour kits, click here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gathering Zinnia Seeds

It's that time. The zinnia flowers are starting to dry up.

While there are still some that are gorgeous, others have given their all and are ready for the seeds to be harvested.

Each dried flower head has many, many seeds, so you really don't have to gather each and every flower head, if you don't want to. Some people don't love the look of the brownish heads dying back in their garden. If you find yourself in that category, then you can collect the seeds from the dried up heads, and then pull out all of the rest of the plants as you're cleaning up for fall.

I have been cutting the dried heads when they become fully brown and dry, and then I just leave the others alone til it's their time to be cut. Since it's that time of year when things are naturally dying back anyway, I don't mind some brown here and there in my garden.

I kindof like cutting them when there is just a little bit left of the original color of petals left. That way next year, I can tell what color of flower I'm planting.

The smaller zinnias (like the photo below) don't have the same seed propagation, therefore you won't bother collecting seeds from them. These are some that I bought in a pony pack, and I'll just plant them the same way next year.

Keep the dried seed heads in a paper bag in a dark cool place over the winter. And then in the spring, you just rub the dried flower heads between your fingers, and lots of little seeds will fall out. These are fun, cheerful flowers that are easy to care for and fun to plant and share seeds from. I love that the original seeds came from my Aunt Carol's garden, to my Mom's garden, and now they're in my garden!

Isn't this a gorgeous time of year? I am so loving it and soaking it all in before the snows come. The other day, I was driving home, and looked up and had to pull my car over and gaze. The mountains are breathtaking with their amazing color and constant changes. I mean, even with the telephone lines and other obstacles, you can't help but be amazed at the beauty. Aaaaaaaaaaah. Fills the soul with good things.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

72 Hour Kits: Task 1 - Containers

Alrighty then. 72-hour kits. You've heard about them til you're on your very last nerve. Everyone says you need one. You think about it every time there's a disaster. You even look up some ideas on the internet, but then the days go on and it stays on your list without anything happening. And at some point you just take it off the list, saying you'll get to that when your life slows down a bit. Well, we both know that isn't going to happen any time soon. Life isn't going to slow down, and we might as well just accept that as a fact. My 83 (almost 84) year old mother is as busy as anyone I know, so...

Now that we are all on the same page, and we recognize that today is the day to start the 72-hour kit, what do we do now? I'm hoping to break it down in to manageable assignments so that by the end of our run, we will have complete, organized 72-hour kits for each member of the family living in the home.

There are MANY ideas out there about what should go in a 72-hour kit. For me and my family, I went through the best lists I could find, combined and fine-tuned them, and came up with my master list. There will always be items that you may need that I may not have on my list (baby needs, pet needs, etc). If that's the case, you can easily add the items to your own list. You'll definitely need to personalize it to your needs and wants. My master list is 3 pages long, and would be costly and overwhelming to try to collect everything all at once. We'll break it down into do-able allotments of time and money.

The thing I like about my list is that I have a comprehensive list of the items, along with a place to mark if the items expire, and when they expire. Then, once a year, when I update my 72-hour kits, I just take out my list (without even having to open up my 72-hour kits), look for the items that expire this year, and then I have a short list of what to pick up at the grocery store next time I'm there. Then, when I bring the items home, I just pull out the old items and replace them with the new, update the list, and I'm done. Super easy. I used to have to pull everything out and try to figure out what is expired and needed replacing. It was a big messy undertaking, and easy to put off. Not any more. It's a simple, organized task, and easy to just throw into my daily routine.

The first thing you'll need is something to pack your items in. Though I don't have any of my kids living at home anymore, when they were here, we had large school back packs for each of the kids. The packs were able to hold their own necessaries, and they could carry the pack on their own (even if that meant dragging it). For the rest of the 72-hour kit, (which includes some more comprehensive items and also the kits for Bob and I) we have 3 containers. The 1st is a big rolling cooler. It is large enough to carry lots of items, but also easy to pull along. It also is insulated, which might come in handy in an emergency. The 2nd container is a medium duffel bag. It's actually a bag that contained an emergency kit my parents gave to each of their married kids years and years ago. The contents have been added to along the way, but the duffel bag is completely usable and easy to carry. The 3rd container is a 5-gallon bucket with a handle. Again, this is an easy-to-carry container, and it may be very handy and necessary to have a bucket in an emergency.

72 hour kits
(includes the rolling cart under the backpacks)

So that is your assignment for this first segment. Gather the containers that you need. All 3 of my containers are packed to the gills, so they are all necessary. To see the post from my Week-To-Week Food Storage Plan and to see an idea of some of my containers, click here. If you have children, you will need a separate pack for each of them, and the school backpacks work really well. You may have some old ones sitting around the house that this would be perfect for. In fact, I would encourage you to use something you have sitting around your home. As time goes on, when you have collected all of your items, you may find that you have outgrown the containers you thought would be the right size, so buying them at this point may be a waste of money.

We'll give everyone about two weeks to think about your needs and gather your containers. And then we'll march on with starting to fill the containers. Check back for the next assignment, or follow this blog for the post updates.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October Week 1: 72 hour kits

This week's emergency preparation item is:

October Week 1: 72 hour kits. Start them or update them.

72-hour kits in back packs

72 hour kits
(includes the rolling cart under the backpacks)

So...... if you have a 72 hour kit, this is relatively easy. Just get your kit(s) out and go through them. Throw out the old, expired food, batteries, etc, that may need replacing. Then, write the items on a list and get to the grocery store in the next couple of days to purchase what you need. When you have the items back in your kit, and your kit back where it belongs, then check it off the list, and relax until next week.

I like to keep my 72 hour kits on the main floor, in a closet that is readily accessible. It's the closet on the way out to the garage, so it's pretty convenient. Everyone knows where the kits are, so we should be able to grab the kits and go quickly. If I kept the 72 hour kits in the basement with the rest of my emergency supply, they would take longer to grab (which may not be possible in the case of a house fire or earthquake), or they might get ruined in the case of a flood, etc.

Now, if you don't have a 72 hour kit yet, then you've got your work cut out for you. BUT, this is the time to get started. I have a couple of different lists... one for the kids' 72 hour kits, which are contained in separate backpacks for them. The other list is a comprehensive list that includes everything my husband and I would need, along with some items that the entire family will use. This is the week I check on all of my items, and try to get them completed and updated.

On my lists for my 72 hour kits, there is a place to write when items expire so that I can just look at the list (without even pulling my kits out) and purchase the items that have or will soon expire. Once I have bought them, I can just switch the items in the kit out and update the list.

In the coming months, we'll work on 72 hour kits here on the blog. I've tried to come up with a simpler way than what I already have going, but I think it's about as simple as I can get it (and still be useful in almost any emergency). We'll start the first installment this coming Thursday (click here to go to the post), so that you are keeping up with your Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan. As we get into the 72 hour kits, I'll have a better idea of how many posts it will take to cover them. I want it to be a doable thing, and it would be too overwhelming to try to do it all at once.

Now that we have all of our kids married off, and on their own, we don't keep an emergency kit here at the house for each of them. In fact, I've passed on to them their 72-hour kits in their backpacks. They can keep them, update them, build off of them, or whatever they want. I will continue to encourage them to build their own kits for their own little families. In my opinion, the 72-hour kits should be for whoever is living in your home at the current time. Any others should keep their own kits at their own homes.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Harvesting the Pumpkins

It is finally pumpkin-harvest time! Some of them have looked ready for months, but I left them on the vine until the vine started to die back a bit. And now, we've got a whole bunch of pumpkins of every size. I started with six little pumpkin starts that were probably about 9" tall. Two were "Giant" pumpkin plants, two were your basic jack-o-lantern pumpkins, and two were the tiny decorative pumpkins. 

It was so much fun to gather the pumpkins with our little grandson. He was so intrigued with the tiny pumpkins and with the idea that you could just cut them right off the vine.

We got over 40 of the tiny pumpkins out of those two little plants. I love those little pumpkins. The grandkids love them, too. They're the perfect size for them to help with the gathering!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I planted the plants in and around my regular flower beds, which I ended up loving! It was so fun to have pumpkins showing up in and around my other plants. And it made the gathering interesting, as you had to follow vines and see if there were any pumpkins all along the way.

This was our haul from this year. Not bad for $10 worth of plants, and not much work! We learned a few things this year that we can put into practice next year and hopefully improve the size and shape of our giant pumpkins.

At least we're improving. The photo below is all I got from last year's harvest... four pumpkins from 10 seeds planted. And they were rather soft so they didn't last outside as long as I would have liked.

And speaking of work... I have finished drying about 98 boxes of apple-pears. Okay, so maybe there weren't quite that many, but it sure seemed like it. I'll put them down in my dark, cool food storage room and see how well they do. They are supposed to be good for at least a year, so we'll see. I really have enjoyed drying them this year. It makes the house smell so yummy all day long, but sometimes it's hard carving out an extra hour at the beginning of the day to do all the prep work for the drying. Plus, my dehydrator and all the gear take up a good portion of my kitchen. I like to have things put in their place, so it will be nice to have everything back where it all belongs and to have my kitchen counters back!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The October Garden

Our garden has really given its all this year. I think that the fact that it was a really warm and wet September has something to do with it still doing well at this point. As I've mentioned before, my front yard is mostly perennials and such, and it definitely looks like fall in those parts. But my backyard has quite a few annuals, and they are looking as bright and beautiful as they did two months ago. We've definitely gotten our money's worth out of those lovelies.

Since some of the trees are starting to lose their leaves, but the flowers are still growing gorgeously, we have a real mix of looks going on here...

My pumpkin vines grew in and around everything else that was in the garden. I loved doing it that way, and the look it gave the garden as the vines rambled along wherever they chose to go.

The sweet potato vines and the alyssum also did pretty darn good this year. They both seem to love the soil in our new planting area, so I'll have to remember that next year. I think I'll try saving the sweet potato tubers this year, and see if I can get them to grow next year. Definitely worth a shot.

The rose hips are starting to form, also, in and among the buds and flowers that are still going strong on the rose bushes. I like to leave the rose hips on and let the birds snack on them if they get hungry over the winter.

I love this pumpkin that found a spot to grow in a nice bed of perennial geranium. A perfect, soft spot!

Many of the pumpkin vines are dying back, which means it's pumpkin harvest time.

I also managed to let my tomato plant grow a bit wild. It outgrew its cage, toppled it over, and started working its way up one of my apple-pear trees. I may or may not have had to "go pick tomatoes from the pear tree". The plant is uber healthy, and from just one tiny start that my mom got for me (free from the greenhouses we go to), I have many, many tomatoes. Many. 

The zinnias are amazing this year! Both the ones I planted from seed and also the ones I bought in pony packs. They are so cheerful, and you don't have to deadhead them. Can I repeat that? You DON'T have to deadhead them. 

And I love this variety of blanket flower. It is a yellow orange, and the seed heads still look good on the plant, so I don't worry about deadheading them, either. Can you tell I'm looking for easier, low maintenance things in my garden? Many of the things I tried this year made the cut, and will be used in next year's garden for sure!