|Of course after I took this picture I added five more things to the list.|
Monday, June 17, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I planted a bougainvillaea last week in one of our patio planter boxes, and it needed something to climb and wind around. I also wanted something in that area that would help replace the look of the fig tree and fill up some of the vertical space and big expanse of the shed wall. The space behind the plant is quite small so it requires a narrow trellis or ladder and since I'd generally rather make something than buy it I decided a homemade rustic ladder would look nice.
As I've mentioned before we have a grove of black bamboo in our backyard that benefits from an occasional thinning. That means I've got quite a stack of long bamboo canes laying around ready to be used (I've got to thin it again so if anyone in the area wants bamboo for a project or for staking things in the garden, let me know). I found two thick long canes to use as the legs of the ladder, and laid them out on the ground. I just eyeballed the length and the spacing - since I was going for a rustic look I wasn't concerned about it being perfect.
Next I took another cane of bamboo and laid it across the legs for the first rung. I marked where the cut should be and then sawed off the length with a pruning saw.
I put a bead of wood glue under each end of the rung on the ladder legs, and then tied the rung tightly with garden twine.
I continued up the ladder, spacing the rungs more or less evenly and gluing and tying them as I went. When I was done I put a bit of glue over each knot to help hold it in place, and when the glue was dry I trimmed the ends of the twine close to the knots.
Once everything was dry and the ladder was in place against the wall I added more glue to each joint for extra strength. This ladder wasn't designed to hold up anything more than the branches of a plant, so it doesn't need to be all that secure - I just want to keep it together if the twine starts to decay in a year or two.
I can imagine doing this again for other areas of the house - how about a skinnier ladder in the living room for a magazine rack?
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
You have to try this - herbed pizza dough topped with caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. Wow was it good, and so simple to put together too. I cooked the sliced yellow onions over medium heat in a cast iron skillet until they were soft, sweet and deeply browned. Meanwhile I sauteed the sliced mushrooms (I used shittake and crimini mushrooms) in olive oil until they were soft and browned as well. The dough I used was Trader Joe's refrigerated herb pizza dough - I rolled it out into a rough rectangle shape and spread a very thin layer of greek yogurt on top to give a little tartness to the pie - then topped it with the onions and mushrooms and baked it for about 12 minutes at 450 degrees. So so good!
We ate the pizza alongside steamed artichokes and it seemed like such an elegant meal for very little actually cooking. As for the kid report: One loves artichokes but had to be coaxed to try the pizza while the other ate up the pizza and had to be coaxed to try the artichoke (which he said was a monster). They ended up eating and enjoying both things by the end of dinner, so another successful meal at our house.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Do you ever just feel lazy and unmotivated? Man do I have a case of the lazies lately. It's not that I can't think of anything to do, it's that I can't bring myself to do anything. I've been crazy busy with the end of school for the kids so I think that has something to do with it - sometimes when I've got down time I just want to zone out in front of the TV or with a good book (speaking of good books, I read a great one recently: The Favored Daughter by Fawzi Koofi. This woman is amazing - she's had an incredibly hard life in Afghanistan. Now she's the speaker of parliament there and running for president in 2014. Reading this book certainly put my little problems into perspective). (Disclosure: The book link above is an affiliate link and if you happen to make a purchase through it I'll receive a small percentage - at no cost to you!)
I'm trying to think of ways to jump start my creativity again. I'm going to put together summer journals for my kids that combine road trip journals with field journals, so I did a small watercolor map of our beach trip this summer. I scanned it and I'll print one out for each journal and paste it in.
|OK, the map is not quite to scale, obviously.|
Do you have any advice to get unstuck and get busy?
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Choose which fruit to use. Firmer fruits work better, so think apples, pears, peaches, plums. Berries are delicious in crisps too, but add some firm fruits as well for better texture. Cut your fruit into bite sized pieces - you need enough to fill whatever container you're using to bake the crisps. You could use a pie plate, a cake pan, a baking dish or individual ramekins. Add some flavoring; think cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract, bourbon, rum or other liqueurs. Sweeten the fruit with sugar or honey, not too much, about 1/4 cup and adjust it for how sweet the fruit is naturally. Add a spoonful of cornstarch, mix it all up and pour the fruit and juices into your baking dish.
For the topping mix up some uncooked oats, a bit of flour, some brown sugar, a pinch of salt and a few chunks of butter. Crumble the butter into the other ingredients until its into little pieces and evenly combined, then dump the whole mix on top of the fruit in the baking dish and bake it at 350 degrees until the fruit is soft and bubbly and the topping is browned.
That's it! No measuring, no fuss, just a yummy fruit dessert.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Well I finally got my tomato plants in the ground - it's probably super late for most of the country but just fine for the northwest. I actually plant them in planters because the least shady spot in our yard is up against the side of the house so they sit on a gravel strip with a nice southern exposure. I planted a roma, a supersweet 100 cherry tomato, and 'champion' which seems like a slicing tomato. I also put in a few jalapeno peppers and pot of sugar snap peas.
The big project of the day was pulling the fig tree out of the planter box next to our patio - we always loved to eat the figs at the end of summer until last year, when we happened to notice the rats enjoying the figs too. That pretty much ended our enjoyment of the figs, so the tree had to go. There happen to be a lot of other plants in that planter I wanted to save, so I had to dig and cut out the fig just around the bottom of the trunk and then pull out as many roots as I could. I had to cut through a few of the roots with a pruning saw they were so thick. Look at this thing!
I planted a bougainvillaea in the fig's spot, which will look nice against the shed wall and will complement the Mediterranean herbs that are growing there now (rosemary, lavender, marjoram and sage). It normally won't overwinter here, but I've got it in a little microclimate so I'm hopeful. I still need to fashion some sort of lattice or ladder it to climb.
I also had a fuchsia to pot up so I planted it in an old watering can that belonged to my grandfather. I think it'll look really great once the fuchsia starts to flower and droop over a bit.
Finally, here's a peony that's just bloomed - beautiful isn't it?
I hope you're all enjoying your June gardens! What's blooming in your yard?
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Yum, we had pork loin chops on the grill tonight and I cooked up a batch of peppers and onions to go with them. I read in a magazine recently (Sunset maybe?) about cooking steaks on a plancha on a grill (a plancha is a heavy cast iron griddle) and as I was getting the coals ready I remembered we had a plancha stuck in a cupboard somewhere around here so I pulled it out and dusted it off.
|Peppers, onions pork and the plancha - before and after|