29 October 2010

to bed

This will be my last season at our community garden.  While it's hard to give up the little plot that I've kept for the past five years, anyone who's grown food at a community garden knows that the experience comes with some unique challenges.  After plenty of ups and downs, I've decided to focus my attention on container gardening here at home, which will make my tiny allotment available for some other eager gardener next spring.

This morning, I went to do the last of my gardening, tucking the plot in for the winter.   I didn't want to leave a big, weedy mess for the lucky soul that inherits my little chunk of real estate.  And honestly, I haven't been a very active gardener this summer, so I definitely had some work to do.

In the course of an hour and a half, the plot went from this:

To this:

I know, I know.  It just looks--sad.

Usually, this time of year, I clear out what's left of all the summer crops, put in my garlic, and scatter cover crop seed everywhere else.  I decided not to plant cover crop this year, partially because I didn't want to make a bunch of work for some new gardener next season.

Instead, I did some lazy "sheet mulching"--layering greens and browns and then covering it all with cardboard.  The organic material will break down over the winter, feeding the soil a bit.  The cardboard helps keep everything in place and will also, hopefully, keep the weeds down during this "off" season.  Again, it's lazy, but it should do the trick.

I had a good time in the garden.  I collected seeds from the calendula and nigella, so I'll have some souvenirs to sow in the spring.

And I spent some quality time with the last of the summer's pollinators.  A male Rufous Hummingbird came and went all morning, zipping past me to get to the tangerine sage.  Of course, I couldn't snap a photo; hummingbirds are much faster than I am, especially now that I've cut my coffee consumption to half a cup a day.

This little lady, though, wasn't in any hurry to move on.

I left the garden with a little bag of seeds and a clump of wild onions descended from some that my cousin smuggled off a Canadian campsite a few years ago.  I'll take a few months off from gardening, but at the tail end of winter, when the seed catalogs show up in the mailbox, I'll start scheming again, building a little garden--this time a container garden--in my imagination.

I'm trying to spend this weekend getting things done.  I've got some plans for November that might take up quite a bit of my time--I'll let you in on the excitement next week, I promise.

We're also planning on attending the annual neighborhood pumpkin carving party tomorrow night.  And of course, the trick-or-treaters will be here on Sunday.  Which means that I might have to buy some more candy for them.  I'm not sure what happened to the last two bags I picked up...

Maybe Halloween chaos is enough to fill your weekend.  If not, here's a to-do list for you:

Put vanilla in your soup.
Download some wrapping paper.

Have a lovely--and spooky--weekend!

25 October 2010


So we had a party last weekend and it was pretty great.  A little tame, really, but that's what you get with a house full of family.  And sometimes tame is good.  There were streamers and music.  We ate "tacos." which is what my man's family calls something that I would be more inclined to term "make your own burritos."

And we ate cake.  Specifically, Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake With Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache.  So, a really healthy cake.  It was my man's birthday party, though, and he should have nice things--at least once a year.

The recipe took awhile but was pretty dang easy.

All the pieces fit together nicely, and the end result was killer.  Even if you're a layer cake novice, like me, you can bake this cake.  Just don't come crying to me when you then proceed to eat the entire thing in one sitting.  On Smitten Kitchen, Deb cautions that this super-rich cake should be served in extra-thin slices.  For whatever it's worth, the "normal" size pieces I served seemed to go over just fine.

Of course, I don't have a gorgeous "after" picture to share.  We went from candles to cutting pretty quickly.  After a few minutes, things looked a bit like this.

You get the idea, though, right?

I made a few paper things for the party, too.  If you squint at the corner of the cake picture above, you can see one of them, a badge I made for the birthday boy.  I started out with some directions from Jessica at How About Orange but ended up making something significantly bigger than the "mini medallion" she gives the dimensions for.

I did struggle a little bit getting the whole thing glued together.  I ended up using a combination of rubber cement, tacky glue, and packing tape.  If I had it to over again, though, I'd probably just use some good double-sided tape.  Although, I don't think even that would overcome what I found to be the only real design flaw of the thing, a funny little seam in the paper.

And, no, that's not such a big deal.  I just don't like it when seams show.  I thought the thing turned out well enough in the end.  Our six-year-old nephew agreed.  "Hey," he said to his uncle, "nice badge."

And my partner-in-crime rocked it all night, which is way longer than he would've worn the tin foil crown I really wanted to make for him...

22 October 2010


I've been busy these past few days.  Although my man's official birthday was a few days ago--an event that we commemorated with a dinner out and some present-opening--we're celebrating in a bigger way tomorrow, when his family will be coming to the big city for as much of a party as we can cram into our little apartment.

So I've been cleaning a bit.  And decorating.  And grocery shopping.  There's a cake in the oven right now--or rather, two-thirds of a cake, because I'm baking something so ambitious that it won't all fit in the oven at the same time.  I really want to tell you about the cake, but since I'm still trying to keep a few secrets from the birthday boy, I'll have to save the details for next week.

Hopefully, it turns out.  I'm still a bit of a layer-cake novice.  Happily, though, this will be the first of my layer cakes that I won't have to transport any farther than the ten feet from the kitchen to the dining table.  That's in my favor, I think.  I'll let you know how it goes...

If you can't tell from this post, I've got my hands kind of full this weekend.  If you aren't planning a birthday bonanza tomorrow and are looking for some fun, here's a to-do list for you:

Eat more smores.
Put your kids in danger.
Plan for the future.

Enjoy your weekend!

18 October 2010


No real post tonight, folks.  I'm going to spend the evening eating these pancakes, finishing this book, and trying incredibly hard to avoid eating all the Halloween candy I bought for those sweet little trick-or-treaters.

Thank you for your patience with my laziness.  It's been a very long day.  I'll be back on Friday, of course, with a to-do list for the weekend and maybe a little gossip about my partner-in-crime's birthday...

15 October 2010


I went to the Children's Garden today, just like I have nearly every Friday for the past five years.  You can learn a lot by gardening with kids.  And a little bit of what you learn is actually about gardening.

Today, I learned--or, at least, was reminded--that the harvest is the most exciting part of the garden year. There were shrieks, giggles, oohs, and ahhs for each radish that was yanked from the ground and every squash that was wrestled off the vine.  A good time was had by all, and I was lucky enough to be there to join in.

Hopefully, the rest of my weekend will involve a little knitting, a little cooking, and some top secret maneuvers that involve my man's quickly approaching birthday.  If I have any extra time, here's what I'd like the rest of my to-do list to look like:

Make a moose.  Or, okay, a deer.
Trick you-know-who into eating eggplant.  
Dream of cheese.
Repaint the bedroom.
Start  a new collection.
Buy another sewing book.  And also, learn to sew.

Here's hoping you all have a lovely weekend.  See you next week!

11 October 2010


Since I started writing here last February, I've been using a mitten for a camera case.  While unconventional, perhaps, this arrangement has been working out wonderfully.  My little camera has traveled safely on city buses, in gardens, through crowded farmers markets, and to Ohio last June for the big-deal wedding.

Yesterday, though, I decided that my camera deserved something better.
Also, it's getting cold out and I want my mitten back.

So I cut off a chunk of a felted sweater sleeve, dug out a scrap of leftover "Key Tree," and spent a few minutes making this little camera cozy.  It's not fancy, and it's probably not going to last all that long, but that's okay.  It'll give me an excuse to make another one.  Maybe next time, I'll do something more exciting, with a zipper or something.

For now, though, this will do just fine.  The wool is nice and soft, and I stuffed a little bit of roving under the fabric to make things extra-cushy.  My little Canon PowerShot is officially ready for cold weather.  Now I'll have to move on to winterizing the laptop...

08 October 2010


With holiday knitting around the corner, I'm taking stock of my knitting assets, namely, the yarn stash.  With so much to see--and, um, buy--at the yarn shops, it's easy to forget about all the lovely stuff I've already got squirreled away.  I'm determined to use this knitting season to thin out my stash a bit.  Like the media will never tire of reminding us, "times are tough, recession, economic disaster, etc."  It's high time that I figure out how to work with what I've got.

Having said that, I have to confess that I made this resolution yesterday, and managed to break it by this afternoon.  It's not my fault.  I blame the yarn.  I picked up a skein of Tahki's Montana, and then found that I couldn't put it down again.  It's big and soft and almost entirely unprocessed.  It also smells a bit like sheep.  It took me awhile to notice this detail.  The cat, of course, picked up on it right away.

Unlike some things that follow me home from the yarn shop, I actually have plans for this acquisition, but as they involve Christmas presents, I'll have to wait until the new year to share the details...

I'm going to spend some of tomorrow sorting through jars and jars of yarn.  If there's time after all that, I might make a batch of granola or bake some bread.  Maybe you've already got your weekend planned out, too.  If not, here's a to-do list to get you started:

Spoil your sweet tooth.
Make a new friend.
Be awesome for Halloween.
Start quilting.
Eat more muffins.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

05 October 2010

soup tuesday

I've written about soup before.  As you might recall, I am a big fan of soup.  My man, sadly, is not.  At best, he tends to view it as a vehicle for bread and cheese.  At worst, he just leaves the leftovers in the fridge, waiting for me to eat them all up.

I'm determined to keep making soup, though.  I figure that sooner or later, I'll come across more soups that my partner-in-crime will be happy to put in his mouth.  Now that it's officially soup season, I thought it might be fun to share some soups with you, too.  There are some lovely soup recipes out there, whole cookbooks dedicated to this practical--and usually fairly wholesome--dinner time staple.

For this first "Soup Tuesday," however, I won't be including a recipe, because you can find it here, on Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette.  While Molly's post begins with a sad tale of woe, it ends with a delectable lentil soup.

Lentils are pretty great.  We don't eat them all that often, but I'm out to change that.  Lentils are full of folate and iron, and if you eat them with rice, you get a complete protein.  Oh, also, I think they taste good.

This soup goes together pretty quickly.  I stuck pretty close to the recipe.  I usually do.  I am a recipe-follower, almost to a flaw.  It makes me feel safer, like I'm less likely to destroy dinner if I just step carefully in the footsteps of, say, Martha.  Or Molly.

I used the Aleppo pepper, because we happened to have some.  (The odds are pretty good that my fellow Seattleite, Molly, and I probably hit some of the same spice shops.)  And I used vegetable broth, because chicken broth doesn't come through our kitchen all that often.

I did make one major omission, though, preparing this Red Lentil Soup with Lemon.  I left out the lemon.  As it turns out, my man doesn't like lemon either.  Go figure.  And we didn't have any lemons to juice, anyway, which kind of simplified things.

In the end, the soup came out well, and both my man and I happily emptied our bowls.  This counts as a success in my book.  One soup down, several months of cold and rainy nights to go.  If you have a soup you think is worthy of Soup Tuesday, let me know.  I'd be happy to pass it along.  

In the meantime, like the great lady said, Bon Appetit!

01 October 2010


I'm not sure what happened.  It was summer when I left the house this morning.  The sun was shining.  There was a nice, gentle breeze.  Somehow, though, by the end of the afternoon, fall had finally arrived. The gentle breeze has gotten a little rowdy, and the sky looks like this:

I'm not sad; I've been telling you for weeks how ready I am for the fall.  It's just funny how quickly it can sneak up on you like that, such a stark change in the season.  If the experts are to be believed, we're going to see some even bigger changes when winter comes to Seattle this year.  Bring it on, I say...

I'm also celebrating some belated birthday mail that arrived in our mailbox today.  My dear farmer friend in Virginia sent a lovely letter, along with a Ziploc bag labeled "Magic Beans."  I guess I'll have to plant some to find out exactly what they do, but you must admit, magical powers aside, they sure are pretty beans...

Our weekend plans include eating lots of produce--our fridge is bulging with the CSA harvest--and helping my sister-in-law's family move into their new home.  After that, it's back to work for me.  If I had more time this weekend, though, my to-do list would look something like this:

Get a kitten.  Right now.
Stop thinking about babies.
Decide whether you're in or out.
Do not buy this.
Make these cookies again.  And then give them all away.
Wait patiently for someone to ask what you'd like for Christmas.

Happy weekend, everyone!  Check back next week for a new seasonal feature: Soup Tuesday!  See you then...