24 September 2010


I have officially harvested my first pumpkin.  It is a little undersized, but given that it's the only surviving pumpkin of the season, I'm incredibly proud of it.

I've been so immersed in the gardening world for the past few seasons--I can go on in great detail about the ideal backyard compost pile and when exactly one should plant peas in USDA Zone 8-9.  It's easy for me to forget sometimes that I've only been growing food for five or six years.  There's a long list of things that I have yet to try planting.  After this summer, though, I can cross "pumpkin" off that list.

For a long time, I thought that pumpkins were beyond me because, with only some containers on the back porch and a ten-by-ten community garden plot, space is incredibly limited.  This spring, though, my man and I decided that the big wooden crate that last year's sickly blueberry died in would be plenty of room for two pumpkin plants.  And up to a certain point, we were right.

The vines tumbled out of the container and wandered eight or ten feet down the sidewalk, right up to our--very patient--neighbors' front porch.  The blossoms came on beautifully, but then, one by one, they withered and fell off the vine.  I talked with my friends at The Garden Hotline, who diagnosed the problem as "incomplete pollination."  It was a rough year for bees in Western Washington, with a cold, wet start to summer.  Apparently, this created some pollination problems that extend well beyond my little pumpkin blossoms.

I could have tried doing some pollinating of my own, by going from blossom to blossom with a little paintbrush, but the timing of it never really worked out.  In the end, we were left with one handsome little pumpkin, turning round and orange on the sidewalk.  It might be small, but I couldn't be more proud.

Pumpkins ripening on the vine really do mean it's fall, and as I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm thrilled about the change in seasons.  I've always considered myself an autumnal soul.  Maybe it's the September birthday.  Or maybe it's because I'm from the Midwest, where fall is one of the more tolerable seasons on the calendar.  Whatever the reason, I'm ready to settle in for a few chilly, gray months of falling leaves and mud puddles.

If all goes according to plan, I'll be spending my weekend baking, knitting, and spending time with family.  I'm also planning on doing some cooking, starting with tonight's dinner, enchiladas baked in this.  Maybe you've got a grand plan for your weekend, too.  If not, here's a to-do list to get you started:

Download a quilt.
Protect your dinner table.
Fall in love with fatherhood.
Find a use for that pumpkin.
Knit a lampshade.
Subscribe to something new.

Happy weekend, everyone!

20 September 2010


That pesky baby blanket is still growing and growing.  When I finish it--and make no mistake, dear readers, I will finish it--it will officially be The Biggest Thing I've Ever Knitted.  You might recall that I was waffling about whether or not I'd be giving it away.  Now, after logging so many hours of my life working on the project, I feel safe in saying that the blanket will not be going anywhere.  I couldn't bear to let it leave now.  We've bonded, this blanket and I.  But it is starting to get on my nerves a bit.

To keep myself from going out of my mind and swearing off knitting forever, I took a break from the blanket the other day and, in the course of two hours, churned out this chunky little hat.

It might not be obvious from the photo, but this is a small hat, for a small head.  The pattern is the Pointy Elf Hat from Joelle Hoverson's More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.  It called for Hand Jive Nature's Palette Thick/Thin Bulky Merino, but after trying four different yarn stores, I decided to opt for something I could actually find in stock and used Malabrigo's Gruesa in Apple Cinnamon, which worked out just fine, thank you very much.

It's just so nice to have finished something.  That's why I got into this whole knitting business in the first place.  I enjoy the process as much as the next girl, but there's nothing like binding off the last stitch to make me feel like I'm actually doing something with my life.

I like this hat.  It's sturdy, but kind of sweet.  I also love the fact that it knits up so quickly, although I was kind of sorry when I finished it, because I'd been having such a good time along the way.  Fortunately, I've got a second skein of the Gruesa, so I can start another little elf hat whenever I want to.  I'm going to try to make myself wait until I'm done with The Blanket that Ate Seattle--I mean, "the sweet little heirloom that's bound to be passed down from one generation to the next, et cetera."

Wish me luck.

17 September 2010

being home

My new job has introduced a new schedule to my days, and while I'm not working nearly enough hours to pay the bills--that's something I'll worry about soon, but not right now--I have had quite a bit of time to kick around the house.  It turns out that when I have extra time, I do not feel at all compelled to do the dishes, organize my craft mess, or write long-overdue thank you notes.  Instead, I'm just making lots of food.

For starters, I've resolved to bake bread once a week, and since we're only on week two, I'm not going to start bragging here, but I will say that baking bread is a very straightforward process.  For those of you put off by the idea of spending lots of time in the kitchen, I'd mention that the recipe we tend to use around here--from The River Cottage Family Cookbook--only requires fifteen minutes or so of actual, hands-on doing.  The time spent waiting for dough to rise or bread to bake can be put to good use by sitting on the couch and thinking about how you should do some dishes or write a long-overdue thank you note.

I also made refrigerator pickles this week.  I didn't really use a recipe, but you could probably find a million of them on the Internet.  The most important ingredients are cucumbers, vinegar, and salt.

Ours is a dill pickle household.  My man refuses to touch sweet pickles, and while I'm willing to try one now and then--they remind me of my grandmothers--I'll still always end up choosing dill in the end.  Obviously, you can make your own choices in this matter.  I'm not telling you what to do.  I'm just telling you which is better.

I have one more day off before I'm back to work again, and I've got plans to do some more cooking, but I also want to get some knitting done.  I may have to make some tough choices tomorrow.  If you're looking for ways to make the most of your weekend, here's a to-do list for you:

Start collecting something.
Find out what Katie ate.
Make a garland--and maybe a cake, too.
Design your own fabric.
Make a baby so you can buy hats for it.

Happy weekend, everyone!

13 September 2010


No real post today, friends.  The good news is, I've just started an exciting new job.  The not-as-good news is that I'm feeling pretty beat.  I'll be back in this space at the end of the week with some food talk and a to-do list to get us all through the weekend...

10 September 2010


My man made pesto yesterday.  This, in itself, isn't a big deal.  In an average summer, we're probably making some kind of pesto every other week or so.  Yesterday, though, was the mother lode, pounds of basil and a nice pile of homegrown garlic magically transformed by the food processor into about a dozen jars of goodness that will get tucked into the freezer.  We'll dole them out carefully over the course of the winter, each jar a reminder of the basil-y goodness of summer.

We have other ways of bottling the season.  I'll probably be making a batch of refrigerator pickles this weekend, with the giant pile of cucumbers that have taken over the bottom drawer of our fridge.

I'm a champion of pickling, curing, freezing, canning, and doing whatever is necessary to preserve the bounty of the summer and autumn, in order to eat well the rest of the year.  On the other hand, I'm also a proponent of cooking up whatever's in season.  And right now, one of those things is kale.

I'm making kale chips tonight.  They're tasty and easy and the end result feels--snacky.  Decadent.  Kind of like junk food.  Which they are, I suppose, but at least a snack food that started its life as an easy-to-grow, good-for-you green.

You can find kale chips recipes all over the place, and honestly, you might not even need one.  

Just preheat the oven to 350 F.  Wash a bunch of kale, and then pat it all dry with a clean dish towel.  Cut out the thickest of the kale stems.  Drizzle some olive oil over things, add some salt and pepper, and toss it around.  Lay the kale leaves in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until things are crispy, about ten or fifteen minutes.

I have a busy weekend planned, but with the chilly almost-fall weather and a bit of cold, I'd really rather just curl up at home.  Here's a to do list for a weekend of not-doing-much-at-all...

Make your own notebook.
Tour a tiny house.
Cozy up to your teacup.
Be really bad for no good reason.
Stay in bed and cuddle.

Happy weekend, everyone!

06 September 2010

labor day

As predicted, the Labor Day holiday here in Seattle has proven to be cold and damp.  Instead of basking in an end-of-summer barbeque with food and friends, I've mostly been making tea and nursing a case of the sniffles.  

Lest you feel too sorry for me, though, I will mention that I enjoyed a lovely neighborhood pancake breakfast this morning which, though a bit chilly, was full of the laughter and fun we've come to expect from our lovely neighbors.  And I took a pan of that tasty peach shortbread, which promptly disappeared.  

{I know I mentioned this recipe in my list of links last Friday, but now that I've actually made it, I can really recommend it.  Fast, easy, and guaranteed to please a crowd.  Potluck recipes don't get any better than that.}

With today's excitement behind us, I don't have much more planned.  More baby blanket knitting, more tea, more staring out the window daydreaming.  

I hope you're all having fantastic, colorful holidays today.  Soak up some rays and light some fireworks for me, would you?

03 September 2010

last hurrah

Summer in Seattle is going out with a bang.  Eighty degrees and sunshine, with wispy clouds in a blue sky.  The neighborhood is full of kids in wading pools and parents fanning themselves and soaking in the rays.  Of course, the forecast for the weekend is chilly and damp. Which is fine with me, really.  As indicated in my last post, I'm ready for fall weather, with sweaters and cups of peppermint tea.

Actually, I love pretty much everything about autumn.  Rustling leaves, cider, root vegetables.  There are some things I'll miss, though, as summer slips away, and most of those things are food.  Right now, I'm cramming summer in, one mouthful at a time.  This is the last, best chance for tomatoes and berries and peaches, and I'm loathe to miss out on any of it.  I've been hitting the farmers markets twice a week, stocking up on anything that I can't count on seeing there three weeks from now.

This week, I made a gorgeous yellow tomato sauce and fresh pasta to go along with it.  I ate the leftover sauce for lunch the next day, spooned over a few crusty slices of a baguette.  I think I could eat a lunch like that every day for a year, without getting tired of it.  But maybe it seems that way because I know that, soon enough, the only tomatoes I'll be eating will be the ones that come from a can.

If you're feeling a little bit torn between summer and fall, like I am, here's a to do list to keep you busy for the holiday weekend.

Make a lazy salad.
Bring the outside inside.

Happy weekend everyone!