Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Garden

There's a whole lot of green happening in the garden these days, with little splashes of color. I'm looking forward to seeing yellow squash, red, black and yellow tomatoes, yellow and red sunflowers, and yet-to-be-known colors of poppies. I have scattered countless packets of poppy seeds in every garden I've had for the last six years, only to have had two poppies come up. This year I did the same, scattering packets of Icelandic Poppies and one or two other varieties. A few weeks later I was looking at the flower bed, wondering what were weeds and what would become flowers. There were all of these plants that sort of looked like dandelions, but not quite. I was suspect of them, but let them stay. There were so many of them I never thought that they would turn out to be poppies! Now I check them at least twice a day to see if any of them have bloomed. They're so strange looking, with their feed-me-Seymore drooping buds covered in prickly hairs.

I'm still figuring out the paths for the garden. I have two 2' wide paths and one 3' wide path. I was figuring on reducing the larger path to 2', but now it is getting crowded out by squash and a creeping succulent, so I'm not sure.

We are on the eve of a terrible hot stretch topping out at 102 degrees on saturday, with nothing below 92 degrees for the next ten days. I know that this means the lettuce and chard with bolt and the peas will die. Gianna burst into tears when I told her the peas would die. I empathized, but inside I was smiling that she loves the peas so much. It's true, there's nothing like a fresh snap pea plucked off the vine and popped into your mouth. Happily, everything else should do pretty well with the heat. I spent the last two weekends wrestling with the soaker hoses and have finally come up with a system that will make it easy for me to keep the garden hydrated.

I am not looking forward to the heat. I have stocked up on food that mostly doesn't need to be cooked (salami, berries, baguette, cheese), things that can be turned into cold salads (quinoa, potatoes) and things that can be grilled (meat, veggies). I've been asked to make peanut butter chocolate popsicles by the kids for tomorrow, and if I'm feeling extra ambitious I have the ingredients to make milk chocolate ice cream as well.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Bathroom: Before and After

The bathroom is the only room in our house that didn't get a fresh coat of paint before we moved in. The previous owners had chosen terrible colors for the whole house and the bathroom was no exception. For the bathroom they tried to match the tile colors, with pink walls and a burgundy ceiling. The dark ceiling made it feel really small, and it's already a pretty small room. While my husband was installing a ceiling fan the dark paint began peeling away. Of course it didn't all come off and we knew it was beyond time to give this room a nice coat of paint. Why would you paint the vent? They painted the inside of the medicine cabinet burgundy too. I just don't understand.

In the store the paint looked like a light gray, but on the walls it looks more blue. At first we weren't sure about it, but changing the shower curtain made all the difference. Having a light colored shower curtain also makes the room lighter and bigger. For the first week after hanging the new curtain there were many requests for 'the yellow submarine song!' The new sink is a really great too. I love it! The previous sink was alright, but didn't have any storage under it, which this tiny bathroom desperately needed.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Bliss

Half chocolate ganache, half sweetened cream cheese under rhubarb paste leftover from making syrup. 


Puff pastry, bun baking, barbecuing, fence building (my husband - not me!), flower sniffing, garden improving... It was a great tease-of-summer weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Look! The peas are sprouting!

I recently checked out Date Night In from the library. It's about a couple who, upon realizing they needed a weekly date night but couldn't afford to pay for a babysitter and dinner out, decided to have their date night in. Each chapter is a menu for a date night, usually a cocktail, dinner and dessert. I loved it right away. The photos are gorgeous, the recipes interesting but still approachable, and the writing is really personable. I really love cookbooks that have stories in them. I always want to learn more about the recipe and/or author and this book delivers both. Last week, after seeing rhubarb pop up in the grocery store, I decided to make the rhubarb syrup from the book. It was so easy and delicious, and the resulting Rhubarb Sour is so good. Really, really, really good. It's like spring in a glass that gets you a little tipsy. I've already bought another pound of rhubarb to make another batch of syrup. I've also already made the braised green beans twice. Dean can't stop eating them. Aside from the delicious recipes, I really like the sentiment of the book. We've started doing our own weekly date night in after the kids go to bed, although it is a truncated version of just drinks and dessert. I can't imagine waiting until after my kids are in bed to eat dinner. Last week we had champagne and banana cream pie.

This passage from the book really sums up how I feel about cooking. Her husband had requested a cake made from cake mix for his birthday: "The truth is that I felt I wasn't loving my husband well enough by just adding eggs and oil. I wanted to spend hours constructing a perfectly balanced cake with many components that each, in their own way, say, 'You are loved.' Because, whether he realizes it or not, it's through my food that I love him most honestly. I am terrible at kissing him in public, and I get a weird and red in the face when trying to use words to tell him how I feel. But creaming butter and sugar together until they're the color of marshmallows and folding in flour so that the cake has enough structure and tenderness? Now that's how I say, 'I love you.' "

Needless to say, I bought the book. It has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf.

A week and a half ago Vincent borrowed a friend's rototiller and two hours later we had a garden! We sowed snap and shelling peas that afternoon and now they're coming up. I'll be sure to be put building trellises on our weekend to do list. We originally thought this would be a temporary garden, with plans to level out and terrace the backyard. Now we've decided that keeping the garden section sloped is good for drainage, so suddenly my temporary garden has become permanent! It's actually good that it turned out this way. I'll have a spring and summer to see how the garden behaves with the sun, etc before putting in permanent plants, such as asparagus, artichokes, and rhubarb. More immediately I'm trying to figure out where to plant the herb garden. I impulse bought these herbs this morning. I'm such a sucker for good package design. The backyard continues to put on a beautiful show for us. I'm not sure what the pink flowers are (with the bee) but they sure are delicate and pretty. I wonder what new flower will appear next week or month!