Sow: long weekend landscaping

It’s been a long day with a very tight deadline for work, so I’m up late and writing more as a little wind down, despite my laptop feeling like it’s overheating from the exuberant pounding I’ve been giving it all day. Whenever I am away from the office for a week, there’s usually some sort of fallout. I expected today to go exactly the way it did and I was not surprised.

On the plus side, the weekend was a long one (Memorial Day here in the USA), so today, you’re getting lots of photos. First up was our long weekend landscaping project which fortunately was not hampered by all the (much needed) rain that we’ve been getting since Sunday.

A few days ago, I mentioned that Bruce and I were very unimpressed at the high cost of the type of patio planters we were looking for so we looked to the Urban Farm for a little inspiration: Stock Tanks! These mini stock tanks from Tractor Supply Company are absolutely perfect for some patio accents. Now we just need to find some patio lanterns (ah, a wee bit of Canadian content for you hosers).

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Look at me all covered with dirt and happy as can be. We picked up two tiny stock tanks for the new patio and put blue agave and lemon coral sedum in them. I like ’em! • Photo by Bruce

And guess where they're made...

And guess where they’re made…and if you’re wondering what the blue thing is in the driveway, it’s Gidget’s and Godiva’s wading pool • photo by Bruce

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Mini stock tanks in context after the first of the weekend’s rain storms. At least all of the plants, the grass, and the Urban Farm are super happy with all the water. Our new rain gauge said we received 1/2 of an inch yesterday.

Lots of good stuff to harvest yesterday…and more today.

The gigantic harvests are starting. Lots of good stuff to harvest yesterday…and still more today. From left: power greens mix (spinach, chard, kale), big bag of mint, a huge head of curly lettuce, a bell pepper, a bunch of beets, two jalapeños, and a big bowl of salad greens. 

As a special treat, it’s gratuitous dog photos galore!

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George could finally relax and sleep through the night again. • Photo by Bruce

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And here’s a little update on my sweet pal Murphy: here he is with his new sister Harley. He looks pretty content, don’t you think? • photo by Debbie

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Sow: spring 2014 update

There’s something so amazingly satisfying about popping out the back door right off the kitchen and picking a super gourmet salad right out of your yard. So far in spring 2014, the things you’d want in a really good salad are growing like gangbusters.

We still have the same set up: 4 raised beds and 3 stock tanks plus a few large pots.

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This is my master planning document. My pal Lisa gave me the PDF with all sorts of gardening planning stuff for Christmas 2012, but this year, I’m only focused on filling this out.

It’s so hard to read so here’s what’s where:

Raised bed #1:
-Pole beans at the back on the trellis
-2 poblano pepper transplants
-2 yellow bell pepper transplants
-2 bell pepper transplants
-2 tam jalapeño pepper transplants
-2 larger basil transplants

Stock tank #1:
-1 poblano pepper (accidentally got an extra)
-tomatillos from seed

Large pot in front of stock tank #1:
-cilantro

Raised bed #2:
-Pole beans at the back on the trellis
-Clemson spineless okra (same kind I grew last year)

Stock tank #2:
-Red velvet lettuce (another favorite from last year)

Raised bed #3:
-Pole beans at the back on the trellis (and last year’s Malabar spinach seems to be coming back)
-bok choi
-Detroit dark red, early wonder and chioggia beets (more favorites from last year)

Stock tank #3:
-French breakfast radishes (a personal favorite)

Raised bed #4:
-Bloomsdale spinach
-Nero toscanakale
-5-color silverbeet chard
-Arugula
-Mixed salad greens (Q’s special medley, gourmet baby greens)

Whew! It’s busy on the urban farm this year and everything’s been growing like crazy.

So without further ado, here are some photos of stuff growing:

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French breakfast radishes: 73 harvested so far!

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chioggia beets: first one picked on 5/4/14

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first bok choi: picked 5/4/14

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a sample salad green harvest — I’m giving it away too!

This weekend we also did a few improvements to the urban farm in preparation for fencing off the urban farm from the rest of the yard:

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mulched and added pavers in the weedy part of the yard. fence is going where the grass starts.

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Guinness “helping” in the back of the truck with the mulch. Gidget is eating dog food that spilled in the bed.

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The rest of the urban farm

Hopefully I’ve caught everyone up enough! Harvesting is underway and each night I look forward to seeing what kind of growth happened while I was at work.

Gratuitous dog photo of the day:

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Gidget “helping” me lay sod in April


So: epic (culinary) fail

Perhaps you’ve gathered that yet again, work’s consuming me. If you were my clients, surely you’d be delighted, although all work and not much play in the dirt makes Julie a less than ideal worker bee. Still, I’ve eaten some great ice cream for dinner in an airport and met some very cool people.  I can’t really complain.IMG_3952

But I will grouse about yesterday. You see, I had a holiday. Yes, a real “freebee” day from the company. It wasn’t even a national holiday. It was Columbus Day. We won’t get into what that all means since I try not to discuss anything more political than the anarchistic act of growing food in the Dallas city limits.

It was also Canadian Thanksgiving. And while I joked with my Facebook friends that I get two Thanksgivings because I have so much to be thankful for, I really wasn’t joking. I love having two opportunities to be grateful because I really and truly am doubly grateful.

 [For those readers who are unacquainted with Canadian Thanksgiving, it is very much like the big dinner American Thanksgiving except without the pilgrims and Indians mythology. Nice dinner with family and friends. Except it’s not the biggest holiday on the Canadian calendar. I think Christmas, even amongst non-Christians is a bigger deal, perhaps because it’s really three days, the Eve, the Day, and Boxing Day and usually at least two of those days are days off from work.]

That aside, yesterday I was not grateful for my temporary (I hope) lack of culinary prowess. Or perhaps it was just one of those accident-prone days, you know, when the moon is in the wrong phase or Jupiter is aligned with Mars. Something like that. Better to be in the kitchen than at work, however!

Anyway, the day started innocently enough. I packed Bruce’s lunch since the poor man’s company doesn’t like holidays (or vacation time) one bit. I tidied the kitchen. Then I made two giant jars of refrigerator pickles in anticipation of upcoming guests. I pickled okra. I pickled peppers.

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I’ll let you guess which one I should have been wearing gloves for.

I’ll let you hypothesize which one I kept top of mind for the rest of the day.

I’ll let you gather which jar Bruce thinks I should empty right now.

It’s not the okra. Ugh. (By the way, I have two huge freezer bags in the freezer crammed full of okra. If you are visiting this winter, I hope you like stewed okra or some of the various leafy greens which are now thriving in the rain-sodden mess that is the Urban Farm.)

Next, I made a delicious butternut squash soup: the only culinary success of the day. I was very glad it turned out nicely since it would be a distraction from the rest of the meal.

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 After that, I went about my day-off business of painting the inside of a cabinet, filling nail and staple holes in the trim, organizing a couple of closets and cabinets, and then the arduous task of bookkeeping and bill paying. Ugh again. Not because of the paying, but because of my several month neglect of being organized.  I do love my shredder and filing cabinets though. Godiva loves sleeping under the desk while I work. The rest of the Gs were sprawled across the office sectional and on the newly reupholstered bright orange ottoman. We are not afraid of color in this house.

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Then, lo and behold, it was time to get busy on the Thanksgiving feast since Bruce would be home from work soon. We had a difficult time finding the traditional fowl this year for some reason. In past years perhaps we were living amongst more ex-pat Canadians or people who liked turkey more, but the grocery stores did not have the bird. Even the yuppie-hippie grocery store had slim pickings in the turkey department and we settled for a boneless breast wrapped up in string to look like a pork roast.

At least that’s what I thought it looked like from memories of childhood. Generally Bruce is the meat man and he figures out the preparations of roasts and such.

Not yesterday. I consulted the Internet, found a simple roasting guide and, since our trussed up bird was smaller, I figured the minimum time would be perfect.

Not likely.

Post-dog walk, I knew the evening was going down hill fast. Guinness hates rain and it had been raining all day. His parasympathetic nervous system problem that makes his brain and bladder forget about communicating didn’t really set the mood well. Nothing like catheters to make everyone anxious. Ugh.

As for dinner, either the bird was frozen on the inside or our oven didn’t work. Well, I know the oven worked because it set off all the smoke detectors. Apparently it was dirty from something else cooked in it. I wouldn’t know what since we haven’t used the oven in ages. It’s too hot here for ovens in summer.

I baked pumpkin cupcakes before Bruce showed up with no issues. No smell, no smoke. Today my coworkers all thought they were muffins which tells you how good they were, despite being a recipe from a famous Food Network couple. I didn’t like them much, but I knew many of my coworkers would be jones-ing for sweets mid-morning and they’d vanish into thin air. No waste!

And I knew it was hot since I burnt my arm. Again. I have a lovely patchwork of cooking scars that hopefully my clients don’t assume are from teenaged cutting or something even more sinister. They are mostly from baking cookies and cupcakes.

Back to the football-shaped turkey breast. It browned nicely, but took its own sweet time cooking through to 155° F. And every time I opened the oven, it belched out smoke. The house still smells like it. So does my purse—it happened to be on a chair near the oven.

The sides were done about 1 hour too soon. I reheated the soup we were supposed to eat while the turkey rested so that we didn’t resort to cooking something else for dinner when we were ravenous. We picked at the riced potatoes and tested the gravy repeatedly.

Only the Gs seemed excited about the bird when it was ready. Between the smoke detectors barking “fire, fire” and the smoke signals, we were done. And we had killed the wine we selected with the dinner already. I was thankful it was finally done cooking.

The Gs were thankful for the lavish handouts, probably a bit more heavy handed than usual once we realized how dry the little football was.

That my friends, is the story of Canadian Thanksgiving 2013 on a rainy night in Texas.

And here is tonight’s gratuitous dog photo of a black and white puppy stuffed with turkey (photo by Bruce):

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Sow: live, learn

I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m not very pleased with the Urban Farm at the moment, although it looks nice from the mulching two weekends ago. (Side note: We’re getting really good at mulching—this morning we mulched the front flower beds ourselves. Oddly, lots of cars slowed down to watch me spread the mulch around. I can’t figure out why. Either they didn’t think it was an ok thing to do on Sunday morning or they were shocked to see homeowners doing their own yard work. I really enjoyed it—and it gave me a good look at the growth of all the perennials and shrubs planted last year.)

This fall growing season does not seem to be going very well yet. My kale seeds never sprouted. The two kinds of beet seeds I planted have not turned into a bounty of beet sprouts, much to my (and Bruce’s too) disappointment.  Eating lovely roasted yellow farm-grown Ontario beets last weekend made me yearn for beet harvest time again. I guess next weekend I’ll plant some more seeds and see what happens.

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this is what I’m dreaming of

After a chat with one of the horticultural experts at North Haven Gardens today, I’ve decided not to move forward with growing my own blueberries. I just don’t think we have enough space for two bushes that need their own 4″ x 8 ” raised bed. I’m worried about crowding the fig tree that hasn’t given us any figs yet. Sorry birds!

And then there’s my nemesis: the tomato plants. They’ve made me want to rip them all out of the ground and throw them in the composter. They are not looking very well. So far I’ve pulled three. There are four more left.

But before you think the worst: don’t think I’m giving up on the Urban Farm, because I’m not.

Lots of good stuff is happening, but at this point, I’d like to think of my approach as realistic. I’m getting schooled by the climate—and maybe even though this is my second fall season, I’m not the best student. I love digging in the dirt and seeing the results of weekends spent outside. But I’m thinking that I’m going to stop experimenting with tomatoes. I may grow Sweet 100s or some other kind of cherry or grape tomatoes in a large pot, but I’m going to leave the big juicy and heirloom ones to the professionals. I can pick up delicious ones at the hippie-yuppie grocery store. Or from a real farmer at a farmers market.  So I don’t see some improvement in the tomato plants I planted in July by next weekend, I’m pulling them out next weekend and planting collard greens. Or something else that likes fall/winter in North Texas. Maybe even more lettuce since after yesterday’s rain storm, none of ours looks too great. The bok choi looks puny, snow peas are still small. {cue the violins, right?}

But the okra? Still going strong. Same with the basil. Same with the peppers. Same with that wild and crazy Malabar spinach which now is thickly covering the trellis since we haven’t harvested any for over a week—it also has lovely tiny purple berries. Bush beans are flowering. Chard seeds have made 5 viable plants. Stuff is happening, it’s just taking it’s own sweet time. And I’m not as patient as I should be.

After the kale seeds didn’t happen, I picked up 6 kale plants at North Haven Gardens today — 4 Nero kale (the Italian one that looks like palm trees) but also 2 Russian kale with their pointy leaves and purple-y veins. The parsley seeds didn’t sprout either so I grabbed two Italian flat parsley transplants. It’s funny because the cilantro seeds are doing their thing and I’m excited to see the results. But I guess you just never know if conditions were right, the birds were hungry while I was at work, whatever.

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to fertilize everything and see what happens.

And with that, I leave you with the gratuitous dog photo of the day:

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Godiva also likes to see what happens, usually from a human vantage point

Enjoy your Sunday evening!

 

 

So: different welcome

IMG_3905If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I was born and raised in the US, moved to Canada when I was 26, became a Canadian citizen after living there for 5 years, and then I moved back to the US 6.5 years ago. And you know that pretty much any time have the opportunity to go to Toronto for work, family or friends, I go.

Here’s a little story that might explain why:

Last Thursday I hopped on a American Airlines flight at DFW to YYZ (Toronto’s Pearson Airport). It was uneventful and perfect for working since the miracle of a row with 2 empty seats happened. When we landed I grabbed my stuff and made the longish trek to Customs and Immigration. With a Canadian passport, you can now go through a automated line  which lets you check out faster. As you walk out of the section with the automated lineup, there is a line up of Customs and Immigration officers and each person speaks to one of them and shows them their receipt from the machine that scanned their customs form and passport.

I did not know the customs agent nor had I ever been in his line in the past. He greeted me with a hearty, “Welcome home!” and proceeded to ask me what I would be doing on my trip. I mentioned that I was having a girls’ weekend in cottage country with two dear friends. His next comment was, “Well, then, when are you coming home to stay? Your friends and family miss you and Canada wants you to come back.” I was a little shocked by his comments (you’ll understand why in a minute), but I laughed and thanked him. He wished me a wonderful weekend and I was on my way. I really wanted to hug him.

The weekend was wonderful, the weather was perfect, company excellent, everything you’d hope a fall colours weekend with your girls would be.

Late Sunday afternoon, I was back at YYZ. I got my boarding pass and took my completed US customs form and headed for the US Customs and Immigration line (flights to the US are often processed in Canada). After standing in line for 30 minutes, I reached the officer. He took one look at me and one look at my passport and asked me if I was going home to Arizona. I told him no, that I was born in Arizona but I now live in Texas. Maybe he was trying to stump me. Next he asked the purpose of my visit. I said, I was visited my friends and had a girls’ weekend. He said, “why would you come here for that?” to which I replied that we were at my friends’ cottage and left the husbands, kids and pets at home. He then asked me if I ever lived in Canada. Of course, I said yes, and mentioned that I lived in Toronto for 12 years. After that he grunted at me and chucked my passport at me. I took that as I was free to go and headed towards Security which ended up taking over an hour.

I boarded my plane, grumpy and hot from rushing to the gate. And while the miracle of the a row with two empty seats happened again (perfect for working on the way home), it took me a little while to feel cheerful. I was glad to that I was going to see Bruce and the Gs in three hours and a bit, but that’s because home is wherever they are.

Of course, everyone came to DFW to pick me up. There were lots of tailwags and kisses, then Gidget insisted on sitting in my lap for part of the way home.

Here’s your gratuitous G photo for tonight:

Gidget really likes to be in the car, even when it's in the garage.

Gidget really likes to be in the car, even when it’s in the garage.

Sow: mulch better

Sorry, folks. I know I’ve been MIA for much longer than normal. My feeble excuse is work’s been pretty intense and snuck away to the Great White North for a much needed girls’ weekend with two of my pals.

While I was gone, Kate from the yummy foodie blog Tea and Tamarind nominated sowsewso for the Shine On Award. (I’ll take care of the formalities of accepting later. Maybe on the weekend.) Thank you, Kate! I appreciate your kudos and I thank you for the nudge that got me to write today’s post.

But in the interest of catching you up on what’s been happening on the Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm, I need to show you a ton of photos:

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ugh. untidy garden.

Summer’s been rough in the aesthetics department. The pine straw mulch looked great for a while, but then it seemed to help the grass grow back in the places where we didn’t want it.

So we started ripping up the landscaping cloth

So we started ripping up the landscaping cloth around the raised beds and stock tanks. Notice who appears to be doing most of the work.

 

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I read that many people use newspaper to more successfully smother grass and weeds, so we got several coworkers to save their papers for us

once we got all the old stuff up, we could put down the newspaper

once we got all the old stuff up, we could put down the newspaper

then it had to be soaked so that it stuck to the ground better

then it had to be soaked so that it stuck to the ground better. again notice it’s Bruce doing all of the work.

mulch applied over the wet newspaper

mulch applied over the wet newspaper. it already looks better, right?

 

we ended up doing about 1/2 of the garden on the first day because we ran out of mulch

we ended up doing about 1/2 of the garden on the first day because we ran out of mulch. still it looked much better.

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it’s a little hard to see everything, but once it was done, it looked awesome. thanks to Bruce for all the help.

It’s been about two weeks since we completed the mulching. I’d like to say that the grass/weed mixture is 100% smothered and the mulch looks perfect. I’m afraid that this weekend, I’m going to need to pull out some grass. But still if I’m vigilant, I’ll be able to keep things looking nice.

That’s important since it’s patio season again in North Texas. Time for sitting on the patio enjoying adult beverages with friends as we watch the 4Gs and their doggie pals romp around the yard. I can’t wait. It’s really lovely.

As for the urban farm, my kale seeds haven’t sprouted and after a few weeks of waiting and watching the chard sprout and thrive, I’m giving up and picking up some transplants this weekend. Bok choi is growing well. Beets are a little disappointing so I’m going to plant more seeds. Beans are doing their thing and flowering so I’m hoping for a bumper crop. Various salad greens are growing well.

Tomatoes are a disappointment once again and may get pulled out. They are a complete mystery to me. I tried everything, fertilized as directed, watered, and the weather wasn’t that hot. But some of the plants are flowering again so maybe there’s hope.

Snow peas seem to be taking their own sweet time, but maybe they don’t like being so close to the okra. The okra may get pulled although it could still keep producing until the frost kills it. I’ve been giving it away and I have a huge bag of it in the freezer. I’d love to make some pickled okra but that is a little more of a time commitment than I can do. I’d like to get some collard greens growing. Peppers are going crazy. Basil too. Radishes are turning into cute little seedlings. Malabar spinach is thriving and so pretty. And the peaches I froze back in the spring are reminding me that it’s time to make jam.

You’ve probably gathered that I haven’t been spending much time with urban farm. Hopefully I get a bit of time out there this weekend.

And now it’s bedtime.  So I bid you goodnight and leave you with a gratuitous (and nap-tastic) 4G photo:

"hey people, where are you gonna sleep?"

“hey people, where are you gonna sleep?”

 

 

 

 

Sow: late start

Perhaps it’s not the best idea to plant the fall carrot and radish seeds before work. I’d like to think that it wasn’t that. Maybe it was the garage door not wanting to open (worked fine for Bruce tonight). Or the strange melted-looking blue-green plastic that was adhered to the side of my otherwise clean and wrinkle-free pants (not sure how that happened). I couldn’t go to work like that! And then, well, Gidget was out too long with me and the rest of the Gs while I was planting those seeds. So she didn’t want to pee when I let her out before I left (ah, puppies).

You get the picture. Clearly, I was working something out in my head this morning. And puttering around in the garden needed to happen. I’ve been a bit out of it. Lots of learning happening at work and maybe it’s sucking up all of my energy. And I’ve been a bit foggy for at least a week.

Fall allergy season seems to be hitting me harder than usual. Luckily I’m not snotty or sneezy. But I’m terminally itchy. Throat and skin definitely, but my eyes especially. That’s a problem for looking at a computer screen after a work day of looking at the computer screen. All in all, this sort of discombobulation is no good for making regular blog posts.

As I’ve said before, I’m not usually a procrastinator, but tonight when I said to Bruce, “I think I’ll write a post in the morning,” he gently reminded me that I’ve been saying that all week. And it’s Wednesday, in case you haven’t noticed.

So this morning while I was puttering and trying to get the synapses firing, I tried something new with the carrots and radishes. Remember all that seed tape that I made back in February? I made too much and said that I’d use it in the fall. Well, today it got used!

carrot seed tape in stock tank #3

carrot seed tape in stock tank #3

Notice I’ve used a different approach. In the spring, I planted long rows of carrots with radishes in between, since they come up first. Bruce took one look at it and said, “Why did you do it that way?” He had envisioned the carrot tape going from side to side, with radish seed in between, because he was sure that I’d do it that way to maximize the harvest. Well, duh! Of course, my brain didn’t work that way. Should have waited to do the planting when he was around!

But this time, I realized the error of my ways and got it planted this morning. It’s a little late, but given the wacky weather we’ve had all summer, it’s probably ok.

the seeds under the dirt, the recycled skewers mark the carrot rows

seeds under the dirt, recycled skewers mark carrot rows

Looking forward to seeing the radishes come up soon. I also threw some free thank you mesclun seeds that came with my Botanical Interests seed order in the front part of the stock tank. Never can have too much salad, right? Not in this household!

In the meantime, Bruce and I’ve been doing a lot to spruce up the Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm. In fact, we’re about 2/3 of the way done. We’ll finish up the first fall improvement on Saturday and then I’ll post the photos. Believe me, it needed it, especially since the temperatures are headed down to the cooler 80s and that means time to enjoy more time on the patio.

Are you looking forward to cooler fall weather where you are? Or is it already there?

The Gs are looking forward to more time outside when fall and winter come. Here are your gratuitous dog photos for today:

our supervisor for last weekend's improvements

our supervisor for last weekend’s improvements

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camped out in the kitchen, hoping for fall out

So: blue weekend

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tiny piece of inspiration

Hooray! The makeover of the formerly boring beige laundry room is pretty much complete—we finished the blue touchups on Sunday afternoon. I still need to get out white paint for the trim and the door, but the ultra blue (the paint color is called Azurean) makes me smile whenever I see it and it really brightens up a room that’s really not known much for fun.

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glass tile countertop works great with the wall color, just need to get that white counter trim done

We’re really pleased with how it turned out and I plan on getting the cabinets all organized during this long weekend. There’s a ton of space for the laundry stuff, some cleaning supplies that don’t need to go in the utility closet.

It may even be the home of Morty, the much neglected sewing machine (he really needs to come out and see some use in this last part of 2013). Morty would look pretty slick in this room because he’d stand out. Of course, the sewing basket and all of the fabrics I’ve been saving (truthfully old clothes I’m either going to repurpose or just practice with) should probably live here too.

While the color is certainly not a typical midcentury color (maybe too extreme—you think?), it makes me happy. So does the ironing board cabinet.

Do you have one of these babies in your house? This is the second house that we’ve had that has had such a built-in. In Toronto, we removed one to free up some needed space. Here, it’s perfectly fine where it is, although we don’t really use it. I just love the lattice screen at the bottom. The knob is not original and it’s not what I would have chosen, but it’s here. If I find something cool, I may replace it just for kicks. For now though, it’s fine.

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we kept the original ironing board cupboard and ironing board —a little visual interest for the room even though we don’t use it at all

The new ceiling light makes me happy too. The circles remind me a little of soap bubbles which is fun for a laundry room. The designers probably intended some grander purpose for it than lighting up the sorting and folding, pouring and spraying that will happen in here. Maybe a dining room or kitchen—or even a foyer (in Texas, it’s pronounced FOY-yer by the way, so I usually say entry, lest I be accused of putting on airs by Frenchifying the word).

It puts out a ton of light so it’s great for the laundry room. And for lighting up Guinness, who has recently rediscovered his love of the laundry room now that there are no paint cans, tools, and tarps in his way. It’s also a nice place to hide from the younger ones and their rambunctious romping and destroying of toys. Bruce calls George and Gidget the NGs (new Gs) and Guinness and Godiva the OGs (Old Gs).

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A bit of the fancy ceiling light…that we picked up at Costco Canada last summer

Speaking of the Gs, Gidget got a bright blue ear on Saturday afternoon as Bruce was painting behind the washer and dryer. That makes her even more official as a member of the 4G Network. Now, every one of those dogs has now gotten paint from this house on them. Guinness and Godiva have gotten orange and avocado green on them, George managed to paint himself with bits of gray while we worked on the office/tv room. And I always manage to get some in my hair too. Not sure what that says about me except that I’m klutzy.

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we painted the cabinets blue since leaving them white looked funny and made your eye just look at the wall of white

So that’s what we were up to last weekend. Bruce wants to put a shelf above the washer and dryer, but that’s a project for later once we see how we like the new set up.

We also took Gidget to our vet and found out that she’s not 11 months old. Dr. Hutson thinks Gidget’s probably 8 months old tops.

Now that explains a few things! Gidget decided last Monday that she might like the taste of the bay window sill and moved on to the surfboard coffee table. Luckily, Bruce is handy at fixing wood things, she didn’t hurt herself, and we have gone back to using the crate while we’re gone for during the workday. It’s just too long of a stretch for her to be left to her own devices—and the naughty 3Gs didn’t police her very well. Still, I know she looks forward to the Kong filled with peanut butter (I freeze it for less mess).

At the vet we decided to get her DNA tested like we did for Godiva (lab-bull terrier-chow-English setter) and George (lab-golden retriever-pomeranian-some other small dog). We’ve assumed Guinness is 100% lab but several people have remarked that he might have some Great Dane in him. Looks enough like a lab that we’re not bothering with DNA. I’ll let you know what we find out about Gidget. We should know in a couple of weeks. Any guesses? We think terrier of some sort for sure, but who knows?

Gidget’s gained a few pounds (yay!) and seems to be getting a little bit taller. She also was a wee bit sick and the vet found out she had giardia. Unfortunately, it’s contagious when you have a pack so It’s meant treating all the dogs this week. They haven’t minded much since we mix the medicine (it’s a powder that must taste delicious) with their favorite wet food. They’re going to be sad tomorrow when they take their final dose. They all line up and sit when they see us doling out the wet food and sprinkling the powder on. We have to hold each dog’s bowl to make sure each gets their own dose (it’s by weight). As you know, George would be glad to take everyone’s medicine.

I hope that you’re all doing great. Thank you for your kind words about my last post. We are all so glad that Gidget found her forever home.

PS: I’m sorry that I haven’t written much lately. Work’s been a little nutty. And having a puppy in the house again is keeping everyone on their toes. I’m hoping that things have settled down a bit now.

So: renos and reunions

Wow! What a weekend. Today alone was an amazing high energy day. We managed to install our new pantry cabinets, put the pantry back, and entertain a friend from college!

First of all, hanging out with IdaRose for the first time in a very long time was awesome. It was a big surprise since we heard from her yesterday, but the Mortroski Mid-century has a welcome mat out 24-7 so we were ready.

I wish we lived closer, we’d probably have lots of fun dinners and do cool things together. And I wish I wasn’t traveling this week while she’s in Dallas because I’d love to take her to some of the museums and restaurants. But at least we had a lovely dinner and a few hours together tonight.

And before she came over, Bruce and I were very busy today (I realize this is a surprise):

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Putting together the new cabinets for the pantry. Notice the supervisor.

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The gutted closet that will be a pantry. Notice the new supervisor.

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Bruce doing the finesse stuff.

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The final result

People, this is an Ikea setup. We are very impressed! We have 1/2 for pantry items (canned goods, staples) and 1/2 for cleaning stuff (home for vacuum, broom, steam mop, cleaning supplies). It’s lovely and well thought-out. Works for us–and we could get it all installed in a Sunday.

So: cupcakes, ketchup, catch up

I made breakfast cupcakes for my coworkers yesterday. We trade off bringing breakfast. Some people buy it, usually from Taco Cabana (breakfast tacos) or McDonald’s (Egg McMuffins), but I always love it when they make it. It’s always more yummy and more inventive.

Some people really go all out. We’ve had omelette bars, breakfast taco bars, panini bars, pancakes. We’ve also had kiddie cereals, leftover pizza and beer, and WalMart donuts.

Throughout my work career and amongst my friends, I’m known as a cupcake fan and cupcake baker. Any excuse, I’m pulling out cute papers and whipping up a batch.

So, I thought it would be funny to make breakfast cupcakes.

Here’s the recipe:
http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/bacon-breakfast-cupcakes-recipe/1/print/

I made 2 batches, first bacon as guided by the recipe:

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For future reference, it takes a whole pack of Oscar Myer bacon. And I didn’t even know refrigerated hash browns existed. I added some chives from my herb patch as sprinkles.

Then a no meat version for my veggie coworkers:

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I used southwestern hash browns which were spicy and delicious.

Everyone enjoyed them–the moms thought it was pretty kid friendly and good for a crowd. I would definitely make them again but experiment with the flavors.

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Egg mixtures

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Potatoes baking

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Filling the cups

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I have a handy carrier (I told you I was hard core when it comes to cupcakes. Bruce got it for me as a gift.) that I used to transport them to work.

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The trays. This model holds three dozen. It’s also good for carrying cakes.

After all that pre-work cooking, I decided relaxation was needed and picked up dinner at a nearby Thai place. I was really hoping it would be great since they deliver to our neighborhood, but it was not. We’ll keep researching, but it’s painfully apparent that we’re not getting Toronto-quality Thai delivered to our house any time soon.

Still someone else did the cooking.

After dinner, Bruce and I watched The Buddha finally. We missed it when it was first run and recorded it this week. I really enjoyed it–a little enlightenment and armchair traveling for a Friday night.

This morning we woke up to beautiful sage flowers. This variety of sage only blooms when it rains:

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After our long weekend dog walk, Bruce made breakfast and put out ketchup from one of the local hamburger chains:

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We have never tried their food even though we’ve lived here 6 years. So after our errands and morning chores, we decided to have a rare burger lunch. And as several of our friends said, it was great for fast food. But definitely only to be eaten occasionally.

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After lunch, I received an email from a college friend I haven’t seen since the mid-90s. She’ll be in Dallas for work this week. Unfortunately, I’ll be in North Carolina.

That’s ok, we made a plan: I’ll pick her up at the airport and bring her over to the Mortroski Mid-century for dinner tomorrow night so she can meet Bruce and the Gs. That way if she needs help or gets lonely, she’ll know who to call.

Today’s okra harvest:

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I’m going to pickle it in the morning.

And your gratuitous weekend dog shot, this time of Godiva:

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