Monday, June 18, 2012

My life is pretty boring.

I think this blog needs a makeover. What do you guys suggest?

I'm fond of garden stuff. I can kinda draw. I don't know. I like using the blogger themes because they're easy but they're boring and I'm tired of boring. My life is boring enough.

I'm off work till this evening. This will be my second short day in a row and I worked 4 early hours yesterday and will work 4 very late hours tonight, so it's like having an entire day off in between. Kinda neat. I'm enjoying it, because work is still ok but I don't love it (does anybody love their job? Am I being unreasonable to say that I'd like to want to go to work?) and time off is precious.

Speaking of makeovers, on Saturday after work I caved and got a flat of 20 (ok, 18. Two were dead, empty cells) marigolds. Yesterday (Sunday) I planted a neat line of them next to the lavender where my seeded marigolds had failed to grow, and had a bunch left over and was staring contemplatively at them when Rick got my attention.

"Look at this!" he said.

He was pointing to the tiny space on the other side of our porch steps, which is just a pie-slice bordered by a concrete walk. It contains our gas meter and until yesterday it contained a lot of weeds. This year it also contained lemon balm which is only technically not a weed because I did plant it intending to grow and harvest it. But it's spread from one corner of the yard to ALL the other corners in a ten foot radius. It's coming up in the middle of the yard! This plant doesn't just spread. It flings itself in every direction and thrives. We even yanked some out of the sidewalk four feet below the main plainting and on the other side of a concrete retaining wall. Note to self: Don't let the lemon balm flower and go to seed this year.

But back to the little pie-slice. Rick yanked out ALL the weeds (no small task, I assure you) and left me a nice, well-turned patch of dirt. Not very good dirt, but plain boring plant-something-in-me dirt all the same. He was going to leave it alone but I thought: I have marigolds, and there is an empty space that could use some color! The front of the house has had a makeover from empty boring weed-filled space to slightly less empty, colorful, weed-free space. Well, mostly weed-free. We still need to mow. I did clear the weeds out of the edge beds, though.

I also thought I was rather clever for having bought enough marigolds that they somehow perfectly fit into the front of the little pie-slice. They're spaced a bit far right now but they'll fill in. I hope. I know annuals like better soil and I didn't amend mine one eensy weensy bit. I think they'll deal, though. I'm a lazy efficient gardener, after all. I don't bother with such things as soil amendment for my annuals! They're going to die this fall anyway and have to be replaced! (Remind me to find some short perennials for that pie-slice).

What do you think of marigold as a background color for a blog? Too bright?

Friday, June 08, 2012

Beet it! (+Forward-thinking Friday #3)

After three weeks of looking at my schedule and deciding that a 6am farm stint wasn't what I really needed, I got today off and managed to hike up to the urban farm for a few much-needed (on all sides) volunteer hours. I spent 3 blissful hours weeding peas and harvesting stuff that Tim, the coordinator for the day, insisted that I take. I came home with enough lettuce to have huge salads every day all week (and I have more in my garden!), a small bag of fresh snap peas (I munched a few while picking, I admit it!) and two bags of beets and beet greens. I haven't ever tried to work with beet greens, and I'll probably default to wilting them with spinach, and making them into salads unless someone has a better idea.

The beets I'm going to try to pickle! I think I got enough for a small jar, and that's all I want to try (as impractical as might seem to not do a whole bunch, my kitchen is not equipped for bulk preserving right now). I figure if I can do a simple pickled beet, I can do pickles this summer with the cucumbers I'm hoping to get, and maybe even attempt to can some tomatoes!

What are you preserving this summer?

Oh, and a Forward-Thinking Friday, since I've fallen off that wagon...
Since last time I've gotten my garden planned and put in, started some seeds and killed most of them (for all my supposed gardening experience I am a terrible gardener), tried to keep the house cleaner, etc. We managed to get new light fixtures cheap at one of the big box stores and replaced the old icky brass-and-wood chandelier-bulb fixtures in the kitchen and entry. The end result is much nicer!

So this week I will:
1. Finish patching the hole in the kitchen ceiling that was hidden by the big old light fixture.
2. Finally finally FINALLY pick a paint color for the entry!
3. Pickle some beets.
4. Finish my shelf/grow-light setup (ha!) and post some pictures.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

More food talk.

I've been talking about food a lot lately. Not that there's much else to talk about. Work at the new job is relatively steady and sane (this makes me paranoid because when I hit a nice steady sane rut, it usually means something huge and terrifying is going to happen soon).

The garden has been as lazily tended as ever. I bought a tomato plant a few weeks ago, and a cucumber plant yesterday. Nothing interesting happening there, though. No blossoms yet. The grass keeps growing and we keep ignoring it. Well, Rick keeps ignoring it. I keep thinking "What if I dig all this up and put a new raised bed in over there?", but I haven't gotten to it yet. Because I'm lazy efficient like that.

 Oh, and we got a new car after our old one was "totaled" (but the old car was a 2000 Saab convertible and was totaled not because it was insanely damaged but because the 16-year-old who backed into the front headlight damaged just enough stuff, and since Saab went under the parts are more expensive and the total replacement cost for headlight/bumper/etc was ridiculous). The new (used) car is a Subaru Forester, by the way. It's very nice. It's a manual transmission! I guess that's news.

But really, there's not much going on. So I share what I'm eating. Today for example, I had a lovely snack! It was a banana-berry smoothie with some yummy slices of swiss cheese and salami on the side.

I love smoothies. You can make them with almost anything. Basically a smoothie is the best way to get a million servings of fruit (and maybe some veggies) all at once in a tall cold glass. 'cause smoothies, for proper texture and flavor, have to include some ice. Or frozen fruit. I use frozen fruit because then even if the smoothie gets warm and liquidy and juice-y, it doesn't get watered down. Also because buying real fresh berries is expensive and we don't grow our own (yet) but we can get bulk frozen berry mix (with blackberries, raspberries and blueberries!) at our local big-box members-only store. We buy frozen pre-sliced strawberries, too. They're pretty good.

Anyway, smoothies are awesome. I almost always use banana in mine. Bananas blend really well and make the smoothie nice and creamy so you don't have to add a lot of milk or ice cream (if you add ice cream it's a milkshake anyway) or powdered thickening agents or 'smoothie mix' (ew). They also sweeten up any potentially tangy berries. Applesauce is good for that, too. And you haven't lived until you've tried a Peanut-butter Banana smoothie. One of these days I'm gonna try Nutella in there. Have I said I love smoothies yet?

The best part about smoothies (making them, anyway) is this: The Ninja Warrior! We have an older version, which we got on a "deals" site *coughwoot.comcough* for a really good price. We figured, why not? It sounds like one of those things you see on an infomercial at 2am. "It slices! It dices! It MAKES YOU SANDWICHES!" (Not really.) But it's actually a really solid tool and out of all the kitchen-y gadgets we've collected it's the only one that gets taken off the top of the fridge for regular use. Yeah. I swear it's magic. I'm pretty sure I've pimped it before, too. Forgive my unpaid pimping of this product. It's just that I actually think I love it. I've never loved a kitchen implement before! Don't judge me too harshly.

Here's how to make a smoothie with an immersion blender: You just put your ingredients in the included (but not pictured) beaker (or your desired cup, if it's wide enough for the blender head). Pile it in any way you please. Don't cut up the softer stuff too much because this thing can handle big chunks. Then you stick the floppy silicone blending guard on top, insert the wand and push the really convenient button on the handle. And it goes whirr whirrrrr whirwhirwhir whirrrrrr and you wiggle it up and down and around a little bit and your smoothie is done. And you'll never go to a smoothie place again. Think of the savings! Think of your waistline! (Smoothies are healthy!)

Also cleanup is literally as easy as wiping it out with a soapy cloth and rinsing (the wand is stainless steel for easy clean-up and the handle with the motor detaches for still easier clean-up). It's terrific and I, the girl who never washes her dishes after she cooks, will wash this out after I use it every time because it's SO EASY. I think everyone should have one!

Or at least, everyone should have a smoothie. Come over. I'll make whatever you like!