Kitchen Runner (on the Cheap)

For the longest time, I had been casually looking for a runner for our kitchen. You know, just a simple cotton rug, about 2′ x 9′? You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find. But it had been over four years, for goodness’ sake! I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would have to bite the bullet and pay $99 (plus shipping) to Pottery Barn for a rag rug runner (say that 15 times, fast!). But I kept pushing it off (I’m really good at that), and now it turns out that PB doesn’t even stock cotton runners anymore! Oh well, no matter, I’ve found an alternative solution — and a budget-friendly one, at that!

Enter the reliable, hard-working (and only $3.99!) SIGNE rug from IKEA (we have four others in our house, so we are well acquainted). Because IKEA’s stock of these little rugs is constantly changing, we find a different selection of colors and stripe patterns upon each visit to the store. On a recent trip, I spied a rug with kelly green, olive, and black stripes on the typical SIGNE-cream background. I quickly grabbed it, thinking, “this just might work in our kitchen!”. At that point, I was so excited to see a rug that potentially matched the kitchen, I didn’t even think of the runner idea. But a week or so later, it hit me, and we returned to IKEA, fingers crossed. Luckily, there were exactly three rugs left in that color combo!

I don’t have a sewing machine, so during a recent visit to my parents house, my sister Amy and I retreated to the basement and put the thing together. Here’s how we did it:


1. We cut the fringe off one side of two of the rugs, and both sides of one rug.


2. Then we ran the cut edges through a serger three or four times using black thread (we were trying to approximate the width of the black stripes on the rug).


3. The three pieces were pinned together so the serged edges aligned with an existing stripe on the rug.


4. Finally, we sewed the pieces together using a heavy-duty needle and a zig zag stitch. We used black thread for the top, and either cream or olive in the bobbin, depending on where the back of the stitch lined up. We did that so the rug would be reversible.

Lest anyone think this was a flawless process, here’s evidence otherwise.

In this case, we had black thread in the bobbin, but the bottom stripe was olive (not to mention the stitching was misaligned). Ugh, ripping out stitches…

Oh, well, it’s not perfect, but it looks good from here…and it cost a total of $12.69 including tax!!!

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You Mean the Stuff Inside Fig Newtons?

Growing figs is a tradition in my family. My parents have close to a dozen edit: half-dozen re-edit: dozen(!) trees of various varieties, originally obtained from “the fig man” on Long Island. All of their trees are planted in large pots so they can be brought into a protected, but cool, place (aka the garage) to go dormant for the winter. So, when Tim and I got our first fig tree (as a honeymoon souvenir from Jefferson’s Monticello), we continued in the same tradition of bringing it in every winter. I probably shouldn’t mention that it died in our apartment kitchen one winter when we were living in our apartment.


a few tiny figs we were able to pick last summer before the squirrels got them…

However, over the years, we’ve seen several examples of figs thriving outdoors year-round — especially in more urban areas. So we decided to try it with the two trees we now have (both splits from my parents’ trees). We were fairly confident that our trees would survive the winter, but took several steps to make that success even more certain.

First, we planted them in the sunniest spot in the yard, which because of the fence, is also fairly sheltered from winds…



Then we rigged up a big cage out of two tomato cages, inside which we hung burlap. Said burlap was attached with twist ties and held down at the bottom by bricks…


Next, we filled the cavity with oh… about a kajillion leaves…


and lastly, we covered the top with more burlap. Fancy, right?


Then this guy came by to wish us good luck with his last dying breath.
Well, not really, but it makes for a more dramatic story, doesn’t it?

And then winter happened.

And happened some more.

And happened even more,

until we could hardly stand it anymore!!!

Finally spring arrived (sigh), and we decided it was safe to open up the cage and let the little figgies out…


aaaand we have buds, people!

We may have to prune a bit off the top of one of the trees, but overall, it seems to have been a successful over-wintering!
Now, if we could just keep the squirrels away…

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STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT POST:
Kitchen Runner (on the Cheap)!
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Starts of Spring

It was a long, hard winter here, but now there’s no denying it — it’s finally spring (finally!).

This will be our second year growing garlic. In the fall of 2009, we started by planting several heads of organic garlic we got from a grocery store. From that planting, we got a harvest of about thirty full heads (enough to get us through the year without purchasing any garlic from a store). We also had enough surplus, that last fall we were able to propagate the next crop with it. Isn’t that cool??? Okay, I realize there are very few people who will find that even remotely “cool”…


We selected the largest heads, divided them into separate cloves, and planted them approximately 2″ deep and 6″ apart (experts suggest planting between 4″ and 8″ apart — Each clove will grow into a complete head of  garlic, so a smaller space will limit the size of each new head).

As for other veggies we’re growing this year… So far, in our raised beds, Tim has direct-seeded spinach, broccoli rabe, carrots, radishes, and mesclun (with kale, and arugula to come). I don’t have any images of them — just picture cute, tiny little sprouts. :)

Garlic (left) & Brassica Starts (right)

We also have a plot in a community garden (located in an otherwise unused corner of a nearby cemetery), which we hope to have access to soon. For that, Tim has started several brassicas: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts (one of my favorites!), as well as cucumbers. I think he’s also trying to do watermelon and butternut squash, but the old seeds don’t seem to be germinating (yet). Once the community plot is plowed, we’ll put in string beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, and other various herbs, most of which we’ll get as starts from Greesnsgrow.

Broccoli (left) & Brussels Sprouts (right)Cucumber Sprouts

Our goal is to be able to be able to get through most of the year without having to buy much produce from the grocery store. I’m pretty sure we’re gonna need a chest freezer…

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