Monday, May 31, 2010

Summertime, and the living's easy.

Happy Memorial Day! Things are starting to look like summer around here:
During the summer (at least every summer since I was a teenager that I haven't been stuck indoors all day) my feet get a flip-flop tan that lasts into the fall.

Actually, I've been known to wear flip-flops and a long winter coat at the same time. I wear them until I'm at risk of my toes freezing off, at which point I switch to brightly-colored sneakers. Why not something more dainty? because I have ginormous feet and the shoes I can most easily find are unisex (funnily enough, Ethan and I wear exactly the same size of shoe and pant, so if I'm shopping for him, I can just try things on myself for fit).

We've also been eating a lot of no-cook foods with fresh ingredients. My favorites are fruit salad made with fresh pineapple, blueberries, and strawberries, or a caprese salad.

We made this one with home-grown basil, and cheese from the Mozzarella Company . If you live in Dallas, you should try it sometime. They're located in Deep Ellum on Elm Street, just a few doors down from our favorite butcher, Rudolph's.

Finally, when it gets so hot that as soon as I go outside I start sweating, I make the switch from hot to iced coffee. To make it at home, we just use extra strong brewed coffee, mix it with sugar while it's hot, then pour it over ice and add milk.

We like to drink this in a shady spot in our yard in the morning and watch Reagan chase squirrels and birds. There's a Blue Jay in our yard who loves to torment him.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How does my garden grow?

My garden is growing quite swimmingly, thank you very much! Aside from some early problems with snails eating some of my young sprouts, things are doing pretty well.

My mammoth sunflowers are growing like crazy (they have gone from an inch to about a foot tall over two weeks!)

My tomato plants got big enough that they began to need cages (which I may have placed around the tomatoes upside-down... I'm not sure if they go hoop up or pointy end up.) There is still only one tomato, but there are lots of little flowers all over the plants, so I think there should be more soon!

My peppers are getting bigger, and pretty much every plant is flowering or fruiting.

And finally, the herbs that I put in the (sage, dill, cilantro) are starting to make their leaves and show promise of growing big and strong. Their rows are not quite as perfect as I would like, but I blame the cable man for planting his ladder in the middle of my herb garden. NO way it's my fault for just throwing them on the ground willy-nilly.

Yesterday, we had our first garden meal using basil- I made basil-pecan pesto pasta. it was delicious... and CHEAP. about 10-20 cents worth of pecans, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan, free basil, and a 50 cent package of spaghetti noodles. I used the bottom leaves, any leaves with a bug-eaten section (I pulled off the bad sections of course) and the flowers that keep popping up and I keep pulling off.

yesterday I planted some yellow summer squash and some winter spaghetti squash, as well as some smaller sunflowers. I also want to put in some string beans somewhere, but I'm afraid it's getting too hot. I'm going to try and post about the garden every two weeks, because I am continually amazed by how fast these things grow, and by the fact that I'm not killing the plants. And if anyone has any tips on how to grow string beans (I think I'm going to put some pole beans up by our chain link fence near the mammoth sunflowers, and some bush beans near the tomatoes) then send your advice my way!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Congratulations Erin!

My sister Erin graduated from Plan 2 Honors at UT Austin this weekend, and of course we went down to see her. Friday, we had a wonderful dinner at one of my favorite (totally non-trendy) Austin nice-restaurants, Bistro 88. It's in a strip mall in Westlake next to a dentist's office, and it's completely awesome. Their jalapeno-carrot soup is especially remarkable. We were so proud to see her graduate on Saturday, although I do have one piece of advice for the people who choose the speakers: don't choose a statistician unless you want people to pull out their iphones and ignore his speech. just saying. Also, if members of the audience begin to use the igun application to mock-shoot either themselves or the speaker, it's probably time to cut it short.

While we were in Austin I finally took Ethan to visit Mt. Bonnell, a small park with a beautiful view over Lake Austin.

We vowed that next time we're in Austin with nice weather, we're going to take a picnic up to the top. Of course I've been planning to do that for about five years and it hasn't happened yet. But here's a picture of the two of us looking surprisingly non-sweaty considering how we felt. I think it was 92 degrees out there.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's still alive!

In the week and a half (or so) since Ethan and I planted our veggie garden, nothing (miraculously) has died! In fact, we are seeing small but definite growth of things. Holy moly, we got something right!

We are getting our first tomato from our tomato plants (Growing on our Better Boy plant):

The baby lettuce seeds that we planted are sprouting like crazy:

My Mammoth Sunflower seeds have put up some sprouts... If I'm lucky, these little guys will get as tall as our garage!

And finally, we're getting our first pepper from our red bell pepper plant.

When we planted the garden we put in four types of tomatoes based on what I had read grows well in our climate: Big Boy, Better Boy, 444, and Golden Boy.

We also planted 6 types of peppers: we have a ton of Jalapeno plants, which we bought back in March and tried to grow in a container, only later to realize that it's not a good idea to try and fit like 8 jalapeno plants into one single pot. We also have red bell peppers, green bell peppers, Hungarian banana peppers, Serrano peppers, and hot green chili peppers.

For herbs, we have some decently-sized sweet basil plants which we were also growing at our old apartment (3 plants to a little tiny pot... just putting them into the ground has made them explode in size!). We also put some seeds into the ground on the off chance that they'll grow this late in the season; dill, sage, cilantro, Thai basil, and Genovese basil. I'm not sure if they'll grow this late, but if not we're only out a few dollars.

If everything keeps growing well, my family and friends better get ready for lots and lots and lots of tomatoes and peppers this summer. I also need to find a recipe for hot pepper jelly and pesto!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Inside the house

The inside of our new house is starting to come together. We are really enjoying the space so far.
Living room:

Here we used two bookcases from our old living room, moved in Ethan's old sofa and used the chair that I re-covered in green velvet. We also played musical tables in here; we made our old coffee table into a TV console, made our old side table into a coffee table, and we're using a subwoofer as a side table between the couch and green chair. I still need to make the pillows that will tie in the green with the blue, and I have some curtains made of canvas that I am going to hang behind the sofa.

Guest room/office :

we took the day bed that used to be our main seating in the living area and moved it into our second bedroom to make it into a space for guests and a proper work space (no more printer hidden in the closet and papers strewn across the kitchen table!) Regan has claimed it as his bedroom whenever guests aren't here.


We used pretty much all the same things here as we did in our previous kitchen, but it feels so much more open! and we get to cook on a gas stove, which is a real treat.

Our bedroom:

Before we had a lot of red in the bedroom, but I got tired of having such an intense color. I chose to take off the red duvet cover in favor of the ivory-colored comforter, we put our old loveseat (dyed charcoal gray with Rit) in here for seating, and I converted a small dining table from Ikea into a combo vanity/bed-side table. I also put the black Uzbek Suzani that was formerly hanging on the wall across the foot of the bed for a little color (because although I like all-white linens for other people, I really just can't be satisfied with them for myself!)
I still need to swap out the navy blue lamp shade for white (to match the other side), make some kind of drapes, and hang up some art. I'm also trying to think of a way to make the awkwardly-placed windows look less awkwardly placed.

So that's the inside of our little house! I hope you enjoyed seeing it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

just peachy

Ethan and I just moved into a little house near White Rock Lake. We are so excited to finally have a yard, and Reagan is ecstatic. We've been sitting out here pretty much every evening since we moved in.

We've already started planting things like tomatoes and peppers and some basil to see if we can actually feed ourselves something this summer (yes, we started planting stuff before we were fully unpacked--The yard had empty flowerbeds and garden areas with no plants in them, and it looked sad).

we got 4 different kinds of tomato plants and 6 kinds of peppers, because I think we are both expecting some of it to die. If nothing does, we'll have to figure out a good recipe for home-made salsa or something! can you make your own tomato paste?
Our neighbors (who are really, really awesome serious gardeners with two greenhouses and like 4 big raised veggie beds) told us that the little tree in the middle of our yard is a peach tree! And it's already growing little peaches!

We got some fruit tree fertilizer spikes to encourage it, and I'm so excited at the prospect of being able to make peach pie or cobbler or preserves with fruit from our own tree in the fall (I'm sure my 80 hour work week won't interfere too much, right?)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Losefast Market

Have you ever heard of High Street Market? basically it's an etsy seller/ blog writer who has been getting a fair amount of press lately for her amazing one of a kind vintage home decor items. I hadn't heard of the blog until recently, but today I visited her etsy store for the first time. And I discovered that several of my random thrift store finds are similar (and in some cases, identical!) to the things that she sells!! True, in some cases my thrift store find is in slightly less perfect condition (a ding here or there) and in pretty much every case I have had to put in some good time polishing, which is not the case with the products she sells, which are all sparkly and well taken-care-of. but seriously! check it out:
vintage faux-bamboo brass tray
High street market, $68:

Losefast Market (via Salvation Army, $4):

Vintage Mexican ceramic owl

High Street Market, $32

Losefast Market (via Salvation Army, $2)

Footed Paul Revere reproduction bowl

High street Market, Pewter, $36

Losefast Market, Silver Plate (also via Salvation Army... there was one on my way home from work last year, $6)

Today I stopped by Garland Road Thrift (where I found the 1928 silver-plated Reed and Barton serving tray a few weeks ago) and scored this:

It's a vintage (manufactured in West Germany!) Steiger leaded crystal desk clock, working, in perfect condition, for $5. I looked it up when I got home and it's selling on Ebay for $30. Maybe I could open a real Losefast market! If I keep bringing home more thrift store treasures, I may have to. I think I'm getting addicted to the thrill of finding the one awesome thing in the middle of a bunch of junk.
Today I saw several really nice old brass lamps for $10 or so, a solid wood octagonal coffee table with internal storage and all the hardware (although in need of refinishing on top) for $19, several cut glass punch sets (and other cut glass items), lots of nice old frames in need of new pictures, lots of sturdy old baskets, and many silver-tone/silver-plated (very tarnished, usually) trays. On the flip side, I saw a crock pot shaped like a basketball, a curling iron with hair still in it, a second-hand bedside commode, a gun rack, and a ton of other cheap-o yucky junk. But if you have the patience to wade through the junk, it's possible to find some treasures. Just make sure you wash your hands (and anything you buy) as soon as you're home