Sunday, October 7, 2012

lady, get on that!

I have a bee in my bonnet. And this is a good thing.

There are a handful of projects that I've been meaning to tackle since before I even moved furniture into the house.


finishing the edges and trim in the kitchen...

touching up paint mistakes in the basement...

and turning the garage into a truly usable space.

It's time for me to get on those projects, my friends -- plus a few others. I can't tell you why (yet! maybe ever.) but there's a reason and it's a good one. And even if "it" never comes to pass, it is providing me exactly the motivation I need to finish some long-standing items on the to-do list.

Will you help? Encourage me with your comments, texts, phone calls and stories of your own DIY mis-adventures!

*Project name lifted directly from John and Sherry over at YHL

Friday, October 5, 2012

decorating: summer into fall

Chilly weather is here, and I've slowly been replacing summer/neutral decor around the house with fall and Halloween pieces. 

I keep the same pieces on-hand from year to year (most came from my mom and our collective PartyLite stash) but I try to do different arrangements each time. Here's this year's versions!

Dining room table: silver bowl and hurricane shade --> wire apothecary vase with fall leaves and pumpkins

Dining room window nook: dried hydrangeas --> rosemary plant (has been outside all summer), red candlesticks & fall flower arrangement

Desk: mish-mash of summer wedding invites --> two of my favorite leaf-shaped candle holders

Kitchen corner shelves: Twins baseball memorabilia --> white and orange ceramic pumpkins

Front porch: blue jars and swirls --> pumpkins and jar candles

Living room: added leaf tealight holders to existing tablescape, and a big bowl and leaf coasters to the coffee table 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


It's prime apple season here in Minnesota! Some college friends and I made a day of it on Saturday, driving out the Aamodt's Apple Farm in Stillwater and baking in my kitchen afterward. In the past 24 hours, the following apple-licious dishes have been cooked in my kitchen:

  • Mini apple hand pies (shared)
  • Apple pie (Meredith's)
  • Apple crisp with my mom's cobbler crust - amazing (mine now!)
  • Stewed apples with ginger, lemon, cinnamon and cardamom, in the crock-pot (all mine.)
  • Autumn chopped salads with Honeycrisps (also mine)
I learned that Haralson and Regent apples, while not as large or pink-pretty as Honeycrisps, are great for cooking and baking. Good thing, because we picked a peck of 'em at the orchard yesterday.

Now I have stewed apples and hand pies to tuck in the freezer for later.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

creepy yard squirrel chronicles, continued

yes, I really did take this picture myself. Instagram filter: Rise.

and yes, I think he is trying to dance Gangnam Style.

Monday, September 17, 2012

garden jewels and freezer pickles

I could look at these beauties all day long.

And I sort of did, yesterday. Was playing catch-up from three weeks of out-of-town travel (surprise!) including two weddings, two work trips and a family road trip. Between the garden and the farmer's market, I had a lot of veggies to tend to. It's going to be a delicious week of roasted, sauteed, juiced and pickled veggies.

Center stage: the easiest way to preserve cucumbers (in this case, lemon cucumbers) without dipping a single canning jar into a single vat of boiling water.

Freezer Pickles

Per batch:

4 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
1 thinly sliced onion
2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp dry mustard

1. Combine the cucumbers, onion and salt in a colander. Let stand and drain for at least 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the turmeric, celery seeds, pepper and mustard. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Pack the cucumbers into freezer containers (many small, or one large), leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Pour in the brine (equal proportions in each container). The brine might not cover the cucumbers - this is alright. Mix well, then freeze.

4. Defrost in the refrigerator at least 8 hours before serving.

Monday, September 3, 2012

eating all the weeds

I have found the secret to happiness.

1. Buy a weedeater (battery-operated because cords are a pain)
2. Watch the DVD
3. Learn to fix it all by yourself
4. Cut down all the weeds in your driveway, yard and sidewalk that you never knew how to deal with before
5. Calculate how much time you would have spent pulling weeds by hand, and spend it in the hammock with a good book

before and after in less than five minutes:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

did the 26 survive?

Not the name of a new reality TV show. This is the end-of-August post to see how the garden fared this summer :-) If you recall, I planted a bunch of herbs, vegetables, berries and perennials in May, plus a few more throughout the summer. How did they fare? Well, it was a mixed bag. I am three summers into gardening in this yard, and still figuring out where the best places are for everything. And I think it's safe to say there will be some major yard & garden layout changes coming in time for next spring's planting...

Doing well:

  • Basil
  • Nasturtiums
  • Chile peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Lemon cucumbers
  • Lemon verbena
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Lavender
  • Begonias
Doing ok:
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes (still all green in late August ... weird)
  • Plants in barrel by the front steps
  • Lettuce 
Bad news:
  • Zucchini, acorn squash and summer squash (lots of flowers, no veggies -- yet)
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Thai basil
  • Onions
  • White hydrangea
  • Cilantro
  • Sage
  • Wedding wildflowers
Cherry tomatoes and the squash patch

Peppers, tomatoes and herbs by the back door

Slow tomatoes

Nasturtium (you can eat the flowers and the leaves! great on salads)


What's left of the potted plants after the squirrels spent the summer digging them up

In the middle: pretty red begonias. On the far right: pathetic, wilted hydrangea that never took

Side yard, including three tomato plants

The giant lemon cucumber monster

Kale and basil

Lemon cucumber flowers

Swiss chard (small but tasty)

More garden posts:
Agriturismo (2011)