reboot

Back to reality after 5 days at coast.  5 days of stormy weather and 3 families in a giant house with piss-poor kitchen accoutrements that did not stop us from cranking out some serious food.  Plenty of games played and stitches sewn.  Dogs nervously let off the leash to tear off down the beach after a little orange ball.

I love cresting the curve on I-5 just as downtown comes into view, especially after being in the middle of nowhere for days.  It’s comforting and exciting at the same time.  It’s home.  My brain feels scrubbed from the sea air and break from routine, slightly more ready to take on the letter from the landlord that is supposedly coming any day.  Renergized enough to finish the nagging house projects in this tiny little space  (I sure wouldn’t mind that 3rd floor at the beach house).

Speaking of breaks, the camera seems to be suffering from one somehow.  I like these anyway.

offer it up

I am not a religious person.  When people of faith are faced with troubling times, they turn to that faith for support and guidance, which I have to say sometimes sounds kind of comforting but makes no sense to me.  I knew someone once who would “offer it up” when struggling with a decision or crossroads in her life.  She was putting it in God’s hands, I suppose.  Not my thing, but I can get behind the whole letting-go aspect of it.

Fortunately,  I haven’t been faced with many truly stressful times, compared with some folks.  No health issues to speak of, family intact (knock on wood), not raking in the dough but able to pay the bills (ok, that is sometimes stressful – we own a bar).   When those uncertain times and forks in the road do appear, I usually:  a) feel like vomiting, b) consider the options, c) gnash my teeth and d) dive on in.  There are a few times, however, when you can only do and control so much.  In that case,  I do “offer it up”.  Not to any God(s) – I just let go of all the unknowns and try to take some comfort in knowing I’ve done what can be done.  The rest is not up to me.  Is it cheesy to believe in fate?  Some would say that’s a cop-out,  I know.

We are currently waiting to hear from our landlord about extending the bar lease past 2020.  It’s been a week, with no word.  It is possible they will say no.  Then what? That is where the gnashing of teeth and urge to vomit kick in.  On to the Plan B-making.  The convincing The Geek that he DOES have worthwhile skills and can do anything he sets his mind to.  The potential freedom of not being the one in charge of 10 other peoples’ livelihoods.  Not being the one who gets the call from the alarm company at 3 am.  Or the loss of a place that has been home for 15 years, where we’ve met and worked with so many amazing people. The loss of the freedom to be our own boss, to pick the kids up early if we need to, to stay home when one is sick.

Given the choice I’d hope they sign it so we have some options, but I have “offered it up”.  I will no longer ask everyday “anything in the mail?” I will trust that what’s meant to be is what will happen.  Call it a cop-out if you want – I believe in the Force.

march in the garden

Look – it’s a wee little pea sprout!

I *think* there might be some spinach and poppy sprouts too, but honestly, it could be weeds.  We shall see…

And my new lettuces…

And some oregano and thyme…

Tulips, and maples and muscari – oh my!


You would think you could post photos side by side, but I sure haven’t figured it out.  Last  – the newly pruned apple tree.

I can’t wait to see what April brings!

crafty sunday

Apparently spring only lasts for one day around here.  The high 60’s of yesterday gave way to wind and clouds and rain – there may be no planting today.  Instead, KC the Bride is coming over later to crank out more table runners.

She is getting married in August in her parents’ backyard and has a vision for the tables.  She plans to layer table runners done in blues in the True Lover’s Knot block on top of vintage lace.  An ambitious plan, given that she a) hasn’t sewn much and b) is doing it on her grandmother’s sewing machine.

So we will spend this blustery day making things.  I’m browsing some of my favorite books, trying to find a project, probably a bag of some sort using some of these awesome fabrics and buttons.

IKEA is a fantastic place for fabric, big pieces for not a lot of money.  The gray print and the blue came from there, for like $8!  The vintage buttons and rolled fabric came from the Beppa fabric sale, also super cheap.

As for patterns/construction ideas, I have a few go-to books curently. Fabricate has lots of unique construction ideas for all sorts of things, and encourages you to think outside the box.

For lots of useful projects, I like The New Handmade.  Someday when I’m feeling especially ambitious I will make the messenger bag.  But my current favorite bag pattern book is The Perfect Handmade Bag.   SO many cute bags!  She emphasizes using recycled materials, like felted sweaters (pick up for a song while thrifting, or your husband accidentally shrinks one and even your daughter can’t fit it).

And of course, there’s always Amy. Stinking cute bags and tunics! This time though, I think I will try to make a version of a bag I saw at the Beppa sale.  No pattern, but it didn’t look that complicated.  Keep your fingers crossed.  And if you happen to know anyone who’s going to the beach with me next weekend, you might mention there could be a bag in their future, should they happen to purchase some fabric.   I’m just saying.

Tilth!

After months of anticipation, The Lovely Miss Z got the party started with this sweet gift:

And we popped a bottle of Prosecco and plopped down OUTSIDE ON MARCH 19TH with a lovely spread of meats and cheeses and bread while we contemplated our soon-to-be-loot (and the bottom of said Prosecco bottle – tasty stuff, and you can’t save it, you know).

And then we headed out!  A gorgeous day for the sale it was, too.  This is the sight that greeted us:

Yes, that is a line of people!  All of whom paid $25 each to come the night BEFORE the sale to avoid the crowds and get primo plant selection.  Once inside we were greeted by rows of baby veggies and herbs and flowers and bamboo and trees and berries – OH MY!  There might have been a little squealing going on at this point.

And then the booty-collecting began!  Lots of lettuces, tarragon, a fig tree, some bamboo, pansies, calendula, bachelor buttons, a random cauliflower, some beets AND a currant plant!

So today the real fun starts – the planting!  Weather could not be better – high 60’s and sunny! But first, a little birthday cake baking…

discombobulation

If I’m ever on Inside the Actors’ Studio,  and I get to do the Questionnaire, my two favorite words will be “discombobulated” and “cattywampus”.  Unfortunately, the window of opportunity for that event to happen is growing ever shorter.

I have been feeling lately rather discombobulated, as I’m sure most people do from time to time.  “In a funk” and  “off my game”, for reasons not quite known.  Partly from stress no doubt, which can’t be controlled, only mitigated as best you can.  Maybe it’s the change of seasons, which normally is a cheering kind of thing.  Could be the feeling that something is not quite right, off-kilter somehow.  As though the words you’re saying are leaving your mouth intact, but reaching the listener with every third word missing.  So you keep trying, but more and more words go missing, til you aren’t even sure what you said in the first place.

It’s true many people would say I’m discombobulated pretty much all the time, with too much going on, so maybe there’s a bit of that in this fog too. The fog is dense with things you could swear are real, but maybe are just swirling trails of smoke and dark. The tricky part is in the knowing and heading out to higher ground.

The problem lies in how to fix it – I want my mojo back.  I want my game back and my kilter on. Tonight I go at long last to the Early Edible Sale with The Lovely Miss Z. Retail therapy AND plants – surely that’s a surefire way to get re-combobulated.  And if THAT ever becomes a word, I am so claiming it.

markers

When we bought our house 3 years ago, it came with a large assortment of very old plants – the original owner was a big Arboretum supporter, so we’ve been told.  One of the first days we were there, a neighbor came over and told us we had a tree in the front yard worth $60K!  Sweet!  I thought he meant this one:

But no, he meant a regular big old maple tree.  I’m guessing we’ll never see that $60K, since it’d be a little hard to remove and transplant that beast.  There’s also a hot pink rhodie TREE, bigger than our house, tall enough to stand under, and lots of miscellaneous shrubs.

Sadly, I only know what a few of them are called. And now that we are adding our own plants, there’s a lot to keep track of.  Hence, my need for a labeling system.  I’ve been doing some research into the options.  I want something good-looking and long-lasting.

There’s the tried and true white plastic sticks you write on with a Sharpie and end up replacing constantly.  Some people do the same thing with wooden sticks – popsicle sticks or tongue depressors.  Not quite the style I’d like.

Which leads me to the tags made of metal of some sort, usually either zinc, aluminium or copper.  From what I can tell, the zinc and aluminium ones are the most versatile when it comes to the actual labeling – you can use any sort of permanent pen, though most people recommend a Nursery Gardening Pen for longer durability.  I like these big boys for bigger plants:

And for smaller plants, these will do the trick:

Some folks use an actual Label maker to print out little plastic labels to put on them.  While I like that idea, I’m not about to drop $60 on a “garden label maker” – I wonder if a regular one would work just as well.  Or I might try print out labels from my computer and decoupaging them onto the metal.  And SOMEDAY, I’m going for these

In the meantime, any other suggestions from the gardening world?  You know I’m not good about waiting to start a project!

information overload

Thank god for the interweb.  I say that almost daily, for it’s amazing what you can find there.   For a beginning gardener, it’s a miracle sent from heaven.  What on earth did people DO before?  Lots of library books and the occasional class, I guess and if you were lucky, a friend with a green thumb.  I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I already have a few favorite sites.

As mentioned previously, Annie’s Annuals is like flower porn. Lots of rare, hard-to-find things (though, to be honest, I’m so new I probably wouldn’t know if it was rare or not).  I do know they have lots of things I haven’t seen locally.  My order comes in a couple weeks, so I can’t vouch yet for the quality, but the prices are excellent and their reputation is stellar.

For lots of gardening (and a ton other stuff) it’s hard to beat Sunset magazine’s site.  There’s a calendar for what to do in the garden each month, plant finder, great articles and inspiration, landscape plans, all specific to our area.

We’re also lucky to have Seattle Tilth, which, according to their website is ” a nationally recognized non-profit educational organization dedicated to inspiring and educating people to garden organically and conserve natural resources.”  They offer classes and fabulous plant sales, and their site is full of local resources for organic gardeners.  The Lovely Miss Z and I are going Friday to the Early Edible special Friday night sale.

Given that our veggie gardening method of choice is Square Foot Gardening, I’m also a big fan of My Square Foot Garden.  You can sign up for your zone, and they will send you weekly emails listing what can be planted during that particular week.  There’s also a photo gallery, veggie reference guide, and a TON of other information.

Another local resource is Diggin Food, a blog by a Seattle gardener, Willi Galloway, who mixes in recipes with what’s going on in her garden.  She’s a gardening whiz, being a Master Gardener and expert for NPR and eHow.com, as well as the West coast editor of Organic Gardening magazine - she knows her stuff!

And though I haven’t yet fully checked it out, The Lovely Miss Z turned me onto You Grow Girl, which looks to be chock-full of awesomeness.

A person really could fry their brain just by looking at all the information just in these sites, let alone the rest of the interweb.  Let me know if you have any go-to gardening sites!

bella nutella

There are few tastier things than Nutella.  It’s nutty and chocolatey, super smooth and melty in your mouth.  Sometimes just a spoonful is all you need, but other times call for, well, more.  I make a lot of cheesecake, and I’ve long thought Nutella would make a pretty spectacular cheesecake.  Hence, the Great Nutella Cheesecake Experiment.

*DISCLAIMER:  I am not a professional photographer, as the following photos will prove.  But I promise to try to get better.

For the crust, I used store-bought graham crackers and chopped hazelnuts, mixed with melted butter and baked til set.  I would have used some other kind of cookie for the crust, but the food processor broke and the budget does not include a new one just yet.

I first thought of great dollops of Nutella sandwiched between layers of cheesecake.  I was going to nuke it and make it more spreadable, but lo and behold it says right on the jar “do not microwave” and given its unknown chemical makeup, I thought it wise to heed that advice.  I’d also planned on flavoring the cheesecake with Frangelico, but alas, did not have any.  I did however have some Godiva liqueur and Amaretto, which I used.  Liberally. Hey, the alcohol cooks out.

It was nearly done and crack-free, til the very end, when a crater developed in the center (eh, it makes it easier to taste a sample).  It did stay nice and even though.  Gotta put a pan of water in while it bakes, and let it sit with the oven turned off.

The next day, I melted some good chocolate and guilded the lily a bit.  Next time, I’d go with more of ganache topping- I didn’t like the hard chocolate shell.  Or maybe a baked sour cream topping with liqueur and brown sugar.

And the verdict?  It was fuh-reaking delish!  Needs more Nutella nuggets, but I had to make do with what I had.  And considering  I totally made it up as I went along, I think it turned out very well – a good mix between dense and light (I should probably write down what I did before I forget).  I may consider mixing the Nutella directly into the batter next time and seeing what happens, or doing a swirl variation.  Luckily 2/3 of the dinner guests cancelled, so there’s still some left!  Can you say BREAKFAST.

greenery

It’s been unseasonably warm this winter/early spring, which means unusual progress has already been made in the yard.  The Geek built these lovely raised beds, so we could attempt our first vegetables.

We’ve planted some peas, poppies, and sunflower seeds, but no seedings yet.  At the nursery last week, I couldn’t pass by some strawberry and brussels sprouts starts!  The brussels sprouts spent a few days under plastic water bottle cloches when the weather was rainy and windy.  They seemed to like it!


In raspberry news, the sticks are beginning to come to life – it was looking a little grim there for awhile.

Thanks to the Artist, I discovered one of my favorite plants – Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick.  I hunted for them last spring, only to find they are usually pretty expensive.  Luckily I happened upon two at Home Depot, of all places, for $30 each!  A screaming deal!  Soon they will also sport some gnarly green leaves.

Lots more fun green and colorful stuff to come next Friday, when the Lovely Miss Z and I hit Seattle Tilth’s Early Edible Sale.  On the list, a fig tree! Maybe some bamboo and beets.

Off to cook up some rosemary pork pasta AND try out the Nutella cheesecake!