baby spring

Better weather is creeping in slowly this year.  We are way behind the garden progress of this year.  Oddly, the weeds seem to be right on schedule.

golden spirea

Crandall currant bought last year at Tilth's Early Edible sale. Still alive!

future apple

Fragaria vesca bought last year from Annie's Annuals.

future raspberry

Farmer Fels graciously gave me some Marshall strawberries he rescued from the Herbfarm farm he works at.  They are hard to come by now.  Hoping I don’t kill them!  No pressure!

Marshall strawberry

extremely large euphorbia

This is my partner in crime in the yard.

lawn boy

ready for his close up

This morning we’re taking the Lawn Boy to Magnuson Park for some off-leash time, which happens to coincide with the Arboretum’s Florabundance Sale.  Plant sales are like crack, I tell you!  Is there Plants Anonymous? I can’t say NO, NO, NO…

Happy weekend to you all.

discipline apply here

Yesterday I sent the Stitchers an article about a woman who lost 300 pounds over 5 years through diet and exercise.  FIVE YEARS!  She remained focused on this goal for FIVE YEARS.  It boggles the mind.

I am the complete opposite.  I have remained unfocused on many goals for five years.  For way over five years actually. I don’t understand how some people do it.  Lots of moms and/or dads bring home the bacon and turn it into tasty meals while overseeing homework and organizing all the other household stuff AND maintain some sort of hobby or outside life.  Am I missing that discipline gene?  Did I get the spelling gene instead?

My dad was disciplined about damn near everything.  I can remember a little file box with bill stubs in it – mine go in a drawer, if at all.  He clips his hair almost daily, jeans are neatly creased.  My mom leans more toward the middle.  With four kids, her time was pretty much already consumed but she usually had some plan for dinner and knew who had to be where at what time.  The laundry was never completely done, but she had some sort of crafty thing on the side.  Hmmm.

I have only two kids and a husband who does his fair share, and usually more.  What’s my excuse?  I have none. I am sad and pathetic, but it’s not like I lay around eating bons bons and watching my stories ALL the time!  I am stumped.  Where does my time go?

Last night for example.  It was a full work day, so I was home at 6.  I did bar bookwork, and we grazed on party leftovers (bonus of party hosting: leftovers.  Bonus bonus in this case: houseguest did clean up!).  Then,  since Girl Child and The Geek were otherwise occupied (and the Boy Child is away for 4 days), I watched episode 7 of Downton Abbey.  Girl Child grudgingly went to bed and The Geek and I watched The Killing from Sunday.

OK, so last night I did lay around watching my stories!  Jesus. But I prefer to call it “recuperating from party hosting”, thank you very much.  In any case, something has to change – time is a-wasting.  If that woman can focus on something for FIVE YEARS, surely I can do SOMETHING for half an hour.  Drum roll please….

THINGS I WILL NOW FOCUS ON COMPLETING

  1. Meal planning.  For crying in the night, this should not be that difficult.  I hereby swear to set aside time to plan out a week’s worth of meals and make a shopping list for the Geek.  Like Real Grownups do.
  2. Do the stinking laundry.  And purge the crap we don’t wear.
  3. Lose 10 pounds.  I refuse to purge my Lucky jeans.  Having never had to LOSE weight, this is foreign to me.  Am hoping #5 below will do the trick.
  4. Excavate the bedroom.  Reduce the Hoarder Alert from Orange to Yellow, at least.
  5. Walk or do Kinect.  See #3.
  6. Bring the monthly bar work current.

I AM disciplined about some things, the fun things.  I’m pretty good about writing here, but that’s FUN and some people like it.  I also feed the dog most days.  I am RELIGIOUS about securing camping dates.  So there’s that. Now I just need to apply that fierce dtermination to the things on my list.

Wish me luck.  I might forget.  Luckily, Downton Abbey is finished for the season and Mad Men won’t be back til 2012.

monday words #5

Odds are today’s poem is not unfamiliar to you.  It is one of my favorites and well-worth revisiting, however you take its meaning.  Enjoy.
The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost, 1916

thirteen

The Girl Child turned into a teenager today.  Holy crap.  She is getting to the age that I can remember being (not being like Lefty, who can probably remember things from the womb). Like her,  I can remember planning out wardrobe pieces, though I didn’t have the interweb to assist me.  Specifically, a burgundy corduroy blazer when I was her age. But I digress.

In honor of the big 1-3, thirteen words and wishes for my girl baby…

  • Dream.  Dream big and reach for them.  You have the power.
  • Be kind.  Life is short enough as it is.  Don’t waste a minute of it being mean, or with people who are mean.
  • Stripes and patterns do go together.  Mix it up.
  • Widen your gaze.  What’s right in front of you isn’t always all there is.
  • Try.  Yes, you might fail. But what if you don’t?
  • Listen.  To a friend who needs you, to people who have something to teach, to your heart.  Especially to your mom.
  • Laugh.  It makes everything brighter.  It makes the wrinkles worth it.
  • Make your bed.  If that is clean, it makes the rest of the mess less obnoxious.
  • Write.  Don’t forget that gift. Texting does not count.
  • Work hard.  The easy way out is usually the hardest in the end.
  • Stop.  Take a minute once in a while and just stop.  Remember the moment.  How things smell and taste.  How you feel. The people.
  • Family.  We love you.  And you are lucky enough to have friends who may not be related by blood, but are family nonetheless.
  • Love.  All I really want for you is to know you are loved, and someday find your own love.  To have nothing but peace and joy and happy ever after.

I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.  Happy birthday, baby girl.

first day of kindergarten, with my first day photo

gallery

There is a space on the wall above our “office” (and by that I mean the desk upon which our computer sits in the living/dining area) that has never  been quite right.  Add to that my growing collection of thrifted art with no home, and the light bulb went off.  Gallery style hanging!  I thought it might help separate the space visually from the rest of the wall.  Regular readers will know precision in anything is not my preference/strongpoint, so I was a bit wary about taking this on and having it turn out halfway decent.  Then I saw on the glorious interweb about using newspaper templates to figure out the layout – even I could handle that.

draft

Now, the biggest problem is that most of this art hangs by wires, making it hard to measure where the nail should go.  Let’s not tell The Geek how many *ahem* extra nail holes there may be.  And yes, I know the spacing is not perfect – you artist types will just have to live with it.  Especially the horsy print on the right – it is just a tad too big for that leftover space – but since it is a horse, I think a certain artist might forgive me.

time for your close up!

someday i will find a good mid century lamp, i swear

The bottom line is it makes me happy despite its lack of precision!  And it does separate the space like I hoped it would.  Bonus: I get to see the stuff that would otherwise lay around in a pile.

begin again

It’s a long, bumpy road, this life thing.  You’d think by the time you get to be a “certain age”, you’d have it pretty much down, or at least the big stuff.  Not the case, at least for me.   Sometimes it’s just so easy to maintain the status quo, to avoid rocking the boat or taking risks.  Even when the writing is HUGELY on the wall.  Your vision narrows and you stay the course.  But it turns out the risk of staying the course is riskier than changing it.  So you leap, and hope you don’t pull everyone down with you.

But then. Look at that.  The trip down is a little turbulent, but the landing is pretty swell.  Everything is brighter, lighter. You wonder what took you so long, and remember the hard parts, the complicated bits.  But really, they were small, compared to this.  You see that now. You see the fresh, the peace, the possibilities. You are grateful for the new beginning, a chance to be even more and even greater.

And especially grateful for the people who have the faith to see it, too.

early bloomers

Yesterday we visited our second plant sale of the season, the Arboretum’s Early Bloomers sale.  Members donate starts from their own garden and the proceeds go to support the Arboretum.  But first – check this out.  Not raining Friday night, yet this appeared over our house.

spooky

Anyhoo.  We picked up The Lovely Miss Z to whisk her away to the sale.  This sale is the  mellowest of any we go to, which is kinda refreshing.

mellow

more

sunny perennials. wishful thinking, currently

They also have smaller starts down in the green house.  I was tempted by this one, just for the name.  But I restrained myself.  Barely.

loving this name

booty

We came home with some good stuff:  Yellow Lady Bank’s Rose (a fragrant climber for the deck post), sweet box, a yellow lily, an interesting Nepal Willow, “Pleasant White” azalea, a white forsythia, and a satuki azalea.  And in news on the home front,  my peas have sprouted! The beasts did not eat them all!

pea babies

Elsewhere around the yard -

my spring favorite - smells like heaven

flowering quince - this one is practically pre-historic

kerria

And in the “best save” department, a red contorted filbert that I bought *ahem* last year and never planted is evidently still alive.  We shall see.

breathe, dammit, breathe!

Next up in the sale arena – the NW Perennial Alliance sale next Sunday. It was really excellent last year.  I need to get a wagon for this one!

looking forward

It seems to me that by this time last year, much fun had already been had in the sun.  I distinctly remember sitting in the sun with Miss Z and drinking Prosecco pre-plant sale in mid-March, fer crying out loud.  And the weather being so nice, I already had lots of yard chores done and plant babies in.  So far, 2011 has been a bust.  I am left to planning what I WILL do in the sun, should it ever actually make more than a 5 minute, filtered appearance.  Such as:

  • Busting out the spring clothes.  I am most displeased that I am still having to wear winter’s wardrobe.  It was 38 degrees here when I came to work yesterday, and it snowed the day before that!  My skirts and sandals are dying to come out and play.
  • Getting yard work done!  Seriously, it disgusts me.  Not only the regular maintenance stuff in the front, but the whole back yard needs to be gutted.  Which I am actually kind of excited about.  Pressure washing, concrete staining, junk hauling – all that needs to happen first.  Then the rebuilding of the landscaping.  And plant buying.  Maybe less viewing of 4 neighbors yards.  Also, I would super appreciate it if the “lawn” would  dry out enough for me to mow it before it’s 3 feet high.
  • Happy hours al fresco!  Yes!  Fancy cocktails, food and good people on Fridays!  Hoping it becomes a regular thing this summer.
  • Picnics.  In the park, with The Sandwich.  Our go-to is salami, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil on rosemary or olive bread, with dijon, olive oil and salt and pepper.
  • Don’t even get me started on BBQ’s.  Ribs, foolproof grilled chicken, cornbread salad, potato salad, grilled asparagus, grilled haloumi.  PIEEEEE.
  • Camping.  It’s true, I may well be the only member of my family that actually enjoys camping – the others endure it.  First trip out this year – Steamboat Rock in June.
  • Farmers markets.  I will try to grow some things, but I LOVE the cornucopia of stuff you can get at the markets.  Goal this year:  go to the University Farmers market and get everything for the entire meal.
  • Summer schedule.  On Wednesdays-Fridays, I get home at 2:30 pm.  Which makes the summer days seem twice as long.  Kids are home, we can head out to swim, picnic, take Jack to the park…
  • Big goal this year!  CLEAN OUT THE FREAKING GARAGE.  Our house is 980 SF.  The garage is another 500 SF of unfinished, packed-to-the-gills, space.   Need to gut it so we can one day convert part of it at least to living space.  It will be done!

I hope I get to do some of these things soon. Otherwise, the consequences may be dire.  I’m used to this weather, having lived here since the 70’s but jesus, this is too much!

What about you – what are you looking forward to when the sun comes out?

sunday soup

Given the fact that it is apparently the season of never-ending winter up in these parts, some soup seemed like just the thing.  This one really could not be easier – not that any soup is hard.  Split pea!  With beer!  And sausage!

the goods

What you will need:

1 bag of split green peas, rinsed and picked over

3ish carrots, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 potatoes, chopped, bite size

package of ham hocks

1 bottle of beer – medium ale works best, I think

smoked sausage – I used smoked turkey keilbasa – chopped bite size

water

ground cloves

thyme

a spoonful of coarse dijon

couple of bay leaves

Chop the carrots and celery – if you want to add some onion, feel free.  Soften them in some butter, 3-4 tablespoons in your soup pot, maybe 5 minutes.  Add the peas, beer, 6 cups of water, ham hocks, mustard, pinch of ground cloves, and bay leaves. Bring to simmer, cover and simmer for about an hour.   Meat on the hocks will be nearly tender – you can remove them and shred the meat back in the soup if you like.  Add the potatoes and sausage.  Simmer another 30 min to hour, depending on if you like your soup chunky or smoother.  Salt and pepper. If you are especially ambitious, you can add a splash of apple cider vinegar.  We usually eat this with biscuits and jam, but cheesy biscuits would be good too.

maybe winter's not so bad after all

A few things of note:  I don’t chop this stuff too small, since it gets smaller on cooking and I like a chunkier finished product.  Totally up to you.  And if you like it thicker, leave the lid off.  Or thinner, add more water.  It’s pretty hard to screw up!  Enjoy!