Five Course Dinner

Little F’s dinner was served sporadically tonight.  Or as I like to think of it, in courses.  First came the soup course, or in this case the cereal course: a snack pack of organic Golden Graham knock-offs served in the car on the way home from daycare.  Next came chips and salsa as the appetizer, which he munched while dinner was cooking.  (“It’s ‘picy!  I love it!”)  The third course was the fruit (not-quite-salad), of course.  Little F ate a couple of slices of grapefruit and then two little locally grown yellow plums.  (“I want that,” he said pointing at the plums.)  After the fruit came the main course: pasta with homemade pesto mixed with a little Alfredo sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese to temper it for a toddler’s taste buds.  (“Yummy pasta!”)  Finally, for dessert he had onions.  Little F picked out all of the onions from my wilted beet greens and ate them off my plate.  With my fork.  (“I want tomatoes.”  “Those are onions, not tomatoes.” “I want onions.  Onions are good.”)  Who doesn’t appreciate a five course meal on a Thursday night?

Taking Inventory

This is the first year I was able to plant a garden in quite some time.  Last year we were working on getting this house ready to live in and living in the single-girl house.  The backyard of the single-girl house was super shady and in the drop zone of a black walnut tree, ensuring I would never be able to grow anything back there.  It was also the playground for three medium-sized dogs, Lucy-dog and our neighbors two dogs who we called the juvenile delinquents.

I grew the occasional tomato plant in the front yard of the single-girl house, along with some herbs and stuff, but it was never enough to tell someone, “I have a garden.”  It was more like, “I have a tomato plant.”

This year I’m back in the dirt and I couldn’t be happier.  So let me know take you on a virtual tour of my ad-hoc garden.  Next year I’m going to actually plan things out instead of randomly throwing things in the ground when I had time and room…  If I put it on the interwebz, it’ll happen, right?

Extremely Lazy Bed Potatoes

I had some organic potatoes that had sat in the pantry for, let’s just say awhile, and started to sprout.  I had just read about lazy bed potatoes so I decided to give it a try.  I’m still not really sure what I’m doing with them, and I’ve never grown potatoes before, so I’m willing to chalk this one up to experience and hopefully gain some knowledge for next year.

First Pea Flowers… Just in Time to Die Off in the Heat

Of course I couldn’t get a decent picture of the pea flowers with my phone (I have no idea where the SLR camera is) so just pretend I meant for the shot to be of the weedy patch behind the peas and for the flowers to be out of focus.  I tried and tried to get peas to grow this year.  In the end I had to pre-germinate them and then plant them outside.  I never got any of the directly seeded peas to sprout.  And I finally got my act together enough to get the sprouted peas into the ground and get them to take off just in time for a stretch of 80+ degree weather. (The rabbits which ate the earlier shoots down to the ground when the weather was cooler certainly didn’t help matters either. Hmph.)  I’ll be ecstatic if these two blooms give me pea pods.

Tomato With the Last of the Beets in the Background

I started my tomato seeds way too early this year.  I got excited by the mild winter we’d had and stuck those babies in the peat pots at the end of February.  You’re not supposed to plant tomatoes in this part of the country until Mother’s Day so my starts got leggier and leggier as I debated over whether or not to put them in the ground.  I started somewhere around 60 seeds and ended up with about 10 in the yard here.  I gave some away to friends but most of them got so leggy they tangled and twined with each other.  I also lost track of my labeling system so I don’t even know for sure which varieties I planted.  Oops.  I know I bought three kinds of seeds: Hillbilly/ Flame, Reisentraube, and Todones de Contores (I’m sure I butchered the spelling of the one that starts with “R” and just made up the name of the third variety I listed.  I could go run around the house and track down the seed packets or I could make up words while I sit down.  Guess which I picked!).  I figure I’ll be surprised once they start setting fruit; it will be like Christmas in July!  My hope is that I’ll have enough tomatoes at the end of the summer to have a real reason to learn to can.  And give to my friend MB in exchange for her homemade tomato sauce!

Hops in a Bucket

With all the beer brewing we do, we decided it was time to grow some hops of our own.  Knowing that hops can be invasive and not knowing where we ultimately want our hops to be permanently homed we used five gallon buckets.  Most of the articles I read about hops recommend growing them in halved whiskey barrels or wine casks, which are considerably larger than five gallons.  We’ll see what happens.  We started with three varieties: Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook.  The Cascade is the one shown above and it’s the tallest of the bunch.  Before they sprouted, the Centennial and the Chinook hops kept getting dug out of the buckets by some unknown garden pest.  The Centennial rhizome finally stayed planted and took off but the Chinook was a goner.  We said our farewells and then I stuck a tomato plant in its bucket.  The cycle of life.  I don’t know if it’s because the buckets are too small or what, but I’ve heard that hops take off and shoot up and once you get them trained they climb like nobody’s business.  Well this guy kept flopping over, trailing along the ground, flopping over, basically not following directions.  I think we finally have it trained now and we should be good to go.  We’ll see if we run into the same issues with the Centennial hops now that they’re big enough to start training.

Zucchini

This poor little zucchini plant got a late start, but I have high hopes (I accidentally typed hops, ha!) for it.  I actually got this from a big box store because I forgot that I wanted to grow zucchini until it was too late to order seeds online.  I figured almost everything else was started from seed here at the house so I could fudge with this one plant.  I just got Lil’ Z in a week ago and it’s already grown some new leaves!  I’ve also burned some leaves off from lack of water, but who’s keeping track?  Oh, yeah, I am.

My Favorite Thing I’ve Grown

And of course, a shot of my garden assistant who can’t believe that I would have my camera, er I mean my iPhone, out without needing to take some pictures of him.

As I said before, we’ll see how this all works out.  The soil here is pretty clay-ey and I didn’t have any compost or amendments on hand to really give the soil the boost it needed.  I don’t use any chemicals in the garden so we’ll see what kinds of pests (insects, animals, fungus, etc.) stop by to check it out.  Oh, and not pictured here are the blueberry bushes we planted in the front yard (two of them), the leaf lettuces which were already harvested or the ones that are burning in their containers as I type, and other herbs I’ve got going: lemon thyme, basil, parsley, and lavender.  I clipped all the flowering branches off the blueberry bushes to give the plant time to really get established without trying to put its energy into fruit production this year so we’re all anxiously awaiting next spring so we can get some blueberries!  Assuming the birds don’t get them first.

On our wish list for the future: a peach tree, strawberry plants (with a raised bed to try to contain them), a fig tree, to be able to get carrots to germinate without the birds getting to the seeds two seconds after I go inside, and I’m wishing/hoping I get my act together later this summer and get the fall crops in the ground.  I’ll be sure to update once I’m able to start harvesting and get the fall crops going.

Life, the Universe, and Everything

I found my way to this post listing the forty-two best lines from Douglas Adam’s, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy this morning and thought it was pretty awesome.

Big E and I are both fans of Douglas Adams and I actually threw him a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy themed party this past March for his forty-second birthday.  Forty-two isn’t normally a milestone year, but Little F was due the day before Big E’s fortieth birthday.  Needless to say there was no big celebration that year.  The next year I was planning a retirement party for a co-worker and Little F’s first birthday party, so once again Big E got pushed to the side.  But once I realized exactly which birthday he was having this year I decided there was no better time for a big party than the year Big E became the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

I’m not the best party-thrower, but I think everyone had a good time.  The theme wasn’t the easiest to work with either, but I did the best I could:

Babel Fish

Little F eyeing the mice cakes

And the best part, which I don’t have any pictures of, I made a cake shaped like the Earth which we blew up at exactly 11:46.  I was hoping for a Gallagher-esque spray of cake and icing, but what we got was pretty good too.  A word of advice to anyone looking to blow up a cake with fire crackers: Don’t waste your time with anything smaller than an M-80, go for the gusto.

Oh, Happy Day

Oh, happy day! The house is sold (!!!) and I have plans with my BFF since grade school to get pedicures and then eat Thai food later tonight. As you can see, my toes are in desperate need of some attention. Of course that hasn’t stopped me from wearing my open-toed shoes this spring.

20120522-173025.jpg

I’m not really a girly girl, I tend to get my toes done maybe twice a summer and I’ve never paid for a manicure. There were several years when I scoffed at the idea of someone scrubbing the hard-earned calluses off my feet: Scrub them off?!? How will I be able to walk barefoot without any calluses? Do you have any idea how long it’s taken to get my feet this tough?!?

How things change.  Sometimes I miss my dirty, gnarly feet.  For some reason I doubt Big E does.

A Done Deal… Almost

The single-girl house

Yesterday Big E and I went to the title company and signed all the paperwork for the sale of our house.  The buyer signs her paperwork on Tuesday but until that check hits my bank account I’m remaining cautiously optimistic.  I don’t want anything to jinx this.

 

Today we were over there for the last time building up the dirt line on one side of the foundation where water was known to seep in and getting the last of our belongings off the back patio.

It’s all a little bittersweet.  This was my single-girl house that I only expected to own for a short time.  This was what really kept me tied to one place after my years of wandering, even when I would have rather been wandering.  This is where Big E and I had our courtship through renovation: the two of us replacing the roof over the screened in porch the first month we were dating, Big E installing a ceiling fan in the bedroom, Big E refinishing the hardwood floors one weekend while I was out-of-town.  This was where Big E and I returned after our wedding. Little F learned to crawl and walk on those floors.  This was home.  This was our home.

Little F, Lucy, and Big E on our last trip to the old house

The house had been vacant since we moved.  The walls had been repainted.  The stager had done her job very well and made the house feel welcoming, but not like our own.  It was full of strange furniture and art work that we never would have hung on the walls.  The last few times I was there it no longer felt like the backdrop to all of those life-changing events, it just felt like a nice, small house.  A line from an Indigo Girls cover of the Dire Straits song, “Romeo and Juliet” comes to mind: Now you just say, Romeo? I think I used to have a scene with him.

I hope the buyer enjoys her single-girl house.  Maybe she’ll meet the man (or woman) of her dreams while living there and start a family of her own.  Or maybe not.  I certainly realize that particular idea isn’t everyone’s vision for their future.  I wasn’t even sure it was my vision when I bought the house, but these days I’m quite happy it’s become my reality.

Who, Me?

20120515-201058.jpg

Big E is putting Little F to bed and I’m in the kitchen trying not to eat the entire portion of cake my step-sister sent home with us after our Mother’s Day get-together. One more bite can’t hurt, right?

Intentional Home Thursday Pt. 1

First off, let me say that I already know that I won’t be doing this every Thursday.  There’s too much going on for me to be able to commit to that kind of blogging.  I’m not sure I’ve even managed to post more than two times in one week since I started this in September.  Thirteen posts in four months does not a blogger make.

While I may not be a blogger, I am an avid reader of blogs.  And one of the blogs I read is Pancakes and French Fries, written by Jules.  Back in October she started a 31 day series where, inspired by some things that happened in her personal life and this William Morris quote, she de-cluttered, repaired, cleaned, and organized her home; kicked butt and inspired lots of people in the process.

I know I mentioned that we just moved into a new house and I think I may have mentioned that this house is a rehab job, which is no where near complete, but complete enough for us to live in while we fix up a second house to sell and a third house to rent.  (Phew, how does Donald Trump do it?  Oh, yeah.  He has tons of money and can pay someone to do this crap for him.)  There are no shortage of projects for me to tackle, and I hope to post the entire list soon.  Jules posted her master list here, I love how she identified the overall feeling she wanted for each room.  I may have to copy that part too.  Oddly enough I spent part of my weekend walking around the house, pen and notepad in hand, taking notes about projects which still needed to be started/ finished in each room so I already have a rough idea of what needs to be done.

For this week’s project I am highlighting the very unglamorous, un-sexy coat closet!  We were working on it this weekend, and I neglected to take any before pictures.  I’m definitely no DIY blogger.  (Or any type of blogger as I mentioned earlier.  Ha!)  Okay, let’s focus…

When we moved in, there was nothing in the coat closet.  No bar to hang any hangers on nor any shelves on which to place the things you place on the shelves in the coat closet…  Light bulbs?  Um, board games?  Those were the things on the shelf in our previous coat closet.  So without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the New and Improved Front Entry Closet!

Coats on hangers, what a novel idea!

Please forgive the crappy iPhone picture.  I’m not sure where the cable for the SLR camera is.  Actually, I’m not sure where the SLR camera is.

There are still things I’d like to do in there: paint the walls and either tack the carpet down so it’s secure or pull it up and carry the tile that Big E installed in the entry way into the closet.  The closet isn’t very wide so Big E suggested we put two levels of coat racks in there to double our space. It works for us because neither of us is very tall, thus we have short coats, and the couple full length coats I do have can be hung up in our regular bedroom closet. And this way Little F can take his own coat off the hanger and start to learn to hang it up himself when we get home.  It’s not totally obvious from this picture, but each bar has a shelf over it so there are places to put things.  The only thing on the upper shelf right now is an old purse, which I love, but I no longer love the color.  I want to attempt to dye it but that will be a post much farther down the line.

It’s not exactly beautiful, but it sure is useful.

(If you can’t or don’t want to click the link to the William Morris quote, it is, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”)