Friday, April 30, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

Headed out for a weekend in San Francisco with some of my girlfriends.  Although I'll actually be in town for less than 48 hours, I have ambitious plans to eat seafood at every meal--wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday: Eames rocker

My wishlist post today features another iconic mid century furniture item--the Eames Rocker.  From designboom and deconet: Brothers Charles and Ray Eames experimented with new methods of bending plywood from the work they did during the wartime navy effort and applied these techniques to their furniture design.  The fascination of new materials led the Eames' to inventive modern furniture, such as the molded plastic chair.  The shell is made of fiberglass reinforced plastic, and the base is an eiffel tower metal base with wood rockers on the bottom.  It is said that these rockers were originally gifts to Herman Miller employees who just had newborns. Today Vitra produces reissues of the Eames Rocker. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wreath of the month: April

I think I was overly ambitious when I started my wreath of the month project.  I might have had better luck if I just chose to make a wreath each season instead.  So in compromise I've decided to tweak my project a bit to become a wreath every other month instead.  And then next year I'll complete the missing months as needed.  Whew. 

So in honor of Easter and all things spring this month, I chose to make an egg wreath.  Coincidentally it also was the easiest wreath I've made so far and all I needed were some pastel eggs (nicely speckled from Joann's), a grapevine wreath, and a hot glue gun.  My kind of project.

The breakdown:
  • Grapevine wreath: $3 (at Joanns)
  • 2 boxes of speckled pastel eggs: $8 (50% on sale at Joanns and well worth it)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks: free
  • Total cost: $11
  • Total time: 10 min to make, 24 days to gather up the resolve to actually get the materials and get started
The final product:

Oh and here is where the wreaths I make usually hang--by the back door that leads into the garage.  That way we get to admire it each time we leave the house!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vintage Monday: Frolic by Laurel China snack set

My love for snacks, retro china, and snack sets is well documented and I have acquired my first set!  It's a lovely print called Frolic by Laurel China, made in Japan.  I love the little retro print and the teapcups and plates are so dainty. (pictures by etsy seller, I can only wish my backyard looked like that!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Favorite Friday Recipe: Cheddar crackers

Having cheese as an ingredient is a main criteria for anything B loves to eat.  So when I happened upon this recipe for cheddar crackers I thought it'd be perfect for him--he especially loves to add these to his homemade chex mix.  The recipe originates here and there are some better pictures here.

The above is a picture of my first attempt--they turned out pretty well.  Next time I'll roll the dough even thinner and hope they puff up even more.  You can really taste the baked cheddar in these and they're so flavorful you don't really need many to feel satisfied.  That's what I love the most about cooking/baking with whole ingredients--you're putting good stuff in so your body doesn't have to figure out what to do with chemicals or other artificial stuff. (although I would be hard pressed to give up Twizzlers, red dye and all)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday: wooden toys

I am in love with these wooden toys.  I really like the organic feel to the wood and the shapes are so great and modern--perfect for sitting on a windowsill or perched on a bookcase. Who says they're just for kids? :)

Balancing Cactus by Plan Toys

Ellie the Elephant by Brownsugar1

Mushroom Carnival by MerryMae

Little Kangeroo and Owl (seen above) by Littlesaplingtoys

Stacking Tree by Plan Toys

Moon and Stars by Littlealouette

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

March showers bring April flowers

We've had a rainy and cool spring so far and B and I have been hard at work gardening various portions of our front and back yard.  It's exciting to plan and plant flowers and know that we'll (hopefully) see them year after year.

Since this is our first spring in our new house, we were pleasantly surprised to inherit some really lovely flowers.  We spotted several sword shaped leaves arranged in a fan shape sprouting in a garden bed in the back yard and soon found these gorgeous irises--in yellow, purple and white.  We've seen several around the neighborhood too and wonder how long everyone's had them in their gardens.

We also have this great rose bush that is flowering like crazy near the back gate.

Last weekend was spent clearing out and replanting one of the front flowerbeds with some Geraniums and Knockout Roses.  Hopefully they'll grow well and flower even more throughout the year.

And we also found a nice shady spot with just enough morning sun to try our hand at some hydrangea bushes.  If we have a good year or two we might just try our hand at my favorite peonies next!

Monday, April 19, 2010

DIY: Vegetable garden update

Remember my post last week about our new raised bed vegetable garden?  Here's an update with more pictures, about a month into growing season...

Just starting out:

A little less than a month later:

A closer look at the cucumbers:

Tomatoes (they're beginning to flower!):

Swiss chard (boy we've got a long ways to go!):

 Green beans:

The tops of the onions peeking through:

And I'm guessing our first vegetable we'll harvest--the squash:

Oh and a ferocious little creature decided to make its home among the flowers in the garden...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring flowers: ranunculus are finally in season

So remember my previous post about loving ranunculus?  I finally chanced upon them two weeks ago at the grocery store, squealed in glee and hurriedly rushed them home so I could begin admiring them sitting prettily my cozy little entryway nook. 

Well...I wish this post could end right here, but unfortunately there was a mischievous puppy who shall not be named...

...who by some miraculous feat, managed to balance on his back paws and get high enough to bite the head off one of the flowers and then proceed to gnaw on all the petals on where else? Of course... our bed.

We laughed off the incident but then things turned dire the next morning when he began having blood in his pee.  We then googled and found that ranunculus, along with a surprising number of plants/flowers are toxic if ingested by dogs.  Off to the emergency vet we went and after a week of exhaustive tests, he finally got on the right antibiotics and got better.  And no, it wasn't the ranunculus flower after all, so I'm glad that hasn't tainted my love for them. (Although I'll be glad if I never have to set foot into the emergency vet hospital again!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Favorite Friday Recipe: Homemade Pizza

Make your own pizza night is becoming a popular meal at our home lately.  It's quick, easy and fun to make especially when you have company visiting.  What makes it so great is this Basic Pizza Crust recipe by none other than the Pioneer Woman.  And she's right, letting this dough sit at least 24 hours in advance really helps, and if you're baking it 48 to 72 hours later, the dough is miraculously even better! 

In our household, fresh mozarella cheese is a must, then we load on all our ingredients--for me: mushrooms and olives, and for B: some sort of meat (bacon, pepperoni, Canadian bacon).  The trick to making pizza is to really pile on the ingredients, don't be shy!

After a nice little baking in the oven:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday: Arco Lamp

The Arco Lamp is by far one of my favorite lighting options. From Apartment Therapy: The Arco design, like the many other designs by the Castiglioni brothers, simply makes sense while also being visually appealing. An overhead light without the hassle of wiring, it was supposedly inspired by a street lamp, one of many instances where Achille Castiglioni looked to mass-produced everyday items as a springboard for reinventing domestic objects. The impressive chunk of Carrera marble that serves as the base is both decorative and essential to the piece’s physical balance, while the hole in the base is so a couple people can carry it using a broom handle (great idea for a relay race?). The generous sweep of its neck makes the Arco practical and versatile, accomplishing so much with an elegant economy of form and material.

You can find more about the history of the Arco Lamp in their detailed article here.  And here are some more lovely pictures gathered from google images.

Since this lamp runs in the xxxx digits, I've been on the hunt for an alternative and CB2's Big Dipper Arc Lamp certainly fits the bill. It has a gorgeous high arc to it, is relatively sturdy (per reviews) and the lampshade instead of the chrome softens the effect.  This would be perfect for the living room.  Or so I'm trying to convince B.  At the end of each month, I peruse our house budget to see what leftover funds we have so I can finally purchase this indulgence.  Sadly, this remains, still an indulgence (as opposed to landscaping supplies and paper towels and oh...gutters) so it is resigned to sit at the top of my wishlist for a while.

Monday, April 12, 2010

DIY: Raised vegetable garden bed

This Vintage Monday post has been officially hijacked by a DIY post instead!  We've been working on this project for the past couple of weeks now and in order for me to show the progress pictures, I've first got to show you what we started out with!

B and I attended a local gardening class back in March and learned all about how to create a raised vegetable garden bed.  The class also included DIY composting (ew and ick), rain barrels and how to build trellises and green houses.  It was really informative and fun and just the kick start we needed to get going on our own little garden.

Step one:
Locate a plot in your yard that receives a ton of sun.  Mow the grass down (we neglected to do this) and apply compost liberally, making sure you cover a good 1-2 feet outside the edge of your garden bed as well.

Step two: 
Water the compost--it's supposed to help break down the weeds in that area and provide a ton of nutrients for your future vegetable roots.

Step 3: 
Spread out a layer of cardboard to cover the compost.  We broke down cardboard boxes and made sure to peel off all labels and tape.  This cardboard acts as a protective layer to help the compost break down all the weeds and prevent them from growing up in your bed.

Step 4: 
Water the cardboard (do this on and off for an hour or so) and get it really good and soaked.  This helps the cardboard begin to disintegrate more quickly.  Ideally the cardboard helps the compost keep the weeds down to a minimum and yet it also disintegrates in time so that when the vegetable roots do grow, they'll grow down past the cardboard into the composted soil.

Step 5:
Place your newly made wooden frame on top of the cardboard.  B made the frame with untreated pine wood using his handy drill and coated deck screws.  In our class they recommend 4x4 beds.  We got greedy and made ours 8x4.  Ideally you should be able to lean in and reach two squares from each side to make it easier on your back.  Remember to get untreated wood since you'll be growing edibles.  We were hoping for cedar (lasts longer and looks nicer) but Home Depot didn't offer it in the lengths we needed so we went with pine.

Step 6:
Start hauling your soil and place it in the frame.  (We went to the Natural Gardener and bagged our own soil and compost in the soil yard.  By "we" I really mean B)  We went with the Hill Country Garden Soil.  Fun fact: each bag was 10 gallons and weighed 70lbs each!  You can calculate how much soil you need for your frame with this nifty formula.
Step 7:
Once the bed is filled with soil, be sure to mulch the outsides (where the cardboard still lies) to make it prettier and to keep the weeds at a distance from your garden.

Step 8:
Measure and mark each foot.  Then using green gardening tape, stretch it out and staple on each side, horizontally and vertically till you get a nice tic tac toe board.   If you have a 4x4 bed, you should have 16 squares.  In our case, we went with slightly bigger squares and got 7x4=28 squares.

Step 9:
Plan out where you want your plants. We used a combination of seeds and already sprouted plants.  Plus we added some different flowers for color and to also attract and repel certain bugs to our garden.

Here's our diagram of what we planted (so we could remember and not be too surprised when something started sprouting):

Step 10: 
Water daily and keep watch!!

ps: a watchdog helps!