Category Archives: home

Birthday Art

Last week was my birthday.  I learned a long time ago that I don’t want to wait around to have friends/family bring celebration to me; if I want a particular celebration, then I just make it happen.  I came to this revelation after wasband #1 and I split up.  It was Valentine’s Day and I was feeling sorry for myself so I went out and bought myself a small bouquet of flowers, some heart-shaped balloons and a couple of pink frosted donuts with sprinkles (one for me, one for the dog).  I had also scored a big box from the new tv of the neighbors (Katy Scarlett loved to sit in big boxes and then eventually destroy them) which I decorated with red and pink markers for her.  Turned out to be a great day and a great lesson for myself.

This is not to say that I don’t love what friends/family do for me – I think when folks think of me it means MORE to me because I am self-sufficient in the “celebrate me” arena.  This year I had an especially nice surprise.  While I was out walking the dog that morning, the little girls next door (Margot and Matilda) came over and did chalk decorations all over my sidewalk.  I’m sure they had help from their parents, but the rainbows and butterflies were clearly Margot’s inspiration.  It was so touching – it’s still there a week later although getting a little faded from folks walking on it and the couple of rain sprinkles.  It was the best birthday wish I got this year!

Do you have a favorite neighbor?  Or a not-favorite one?

Frozen Treats

I have always loved popsicles.  I ate so many as a small child that I got lots of cavities in my teeth. My early favorites were the blue raspberry ones. Ice cream bars were never a favorite,  not until I spent a month in the summer after Grade 11 in Saltillo, Mexico studying Spanish. It was hot there in July, and I discovered a world of wonderful frozen confections. My favorite were strawberry ice cream bars with a ripe strawberry at the base. I looked for them in vain in the grocery store back home, but never found them again. I stopped eating popsickles and ice cream bars over the years.   My frozen treat consumption had dwindled to mainly bowls of vanilla  ice cream.

Just the other day I was wheeling my cart past the frozen treat section at Walmart when I spied some interesting looking frozen treats with a lot of Spanish words on the boxes. I bought some ice cream ones and some fruity ones that had the slightest hint of hot chili. They were all wonderful, and the strawberry  ones were very much like the Saltillo strawberry bars. I am in Heaven!

What were your favorite summer treats as a child? What do you like now?

 

Staying Home

Perhaps I’m odd. Perhaps my early years as an only child enhanced my ability to entertain myself. Perhaps I have forgotten what it was like to be young.  I just can’t understand why people are having such a hard time staying at home.

I see in my Facebook feed challenges to live for  a couple of months off the grid in a remote cabin, and winning a bunch of money. Heck, we have all sorts of entertainment in our living spaces, yet people continue to crowd into bars and large parties.

My  question for the Baboons today is:

Why is it so hard to stay home?  What would you include in a tutorial that would help people stay put?  How would you manage in a remote cabin off the grid for a couple of months?

Digging a Hole

I can get really dirty when I’m working in the yard and putting in a new fence post this week made for TWO seriously dirty days.

The fence was initially installed in the end of April 1991, right after I moved in, so I didn’t have to take the dogs out on leashes six or seven times a day so they could do their business.  One of the fence posts was replaced years ago and the others have slowly deteriorated over time.  I have a huge black steel fence post “holder” keeping one up and my handy man did a serious MacGyver on another one last November when the ground was already frozen.  YA and I decided to replace the saggiest one and see what lessons we learned before attempting the MacGyvered one.

All the online advice talks about how hard it is to get the previous concrete out and they weren’t kidding.  The hole was humungous because we couldn’t get any leverage in a smaller hole.  We finally got down to where we needed to be and we measured the post and I sawed it off to the right height.  Then on Day 2 we got an ugly surprise; the very corner where there post needed to go had an old remnant of the initial fence post.  Believe me when I tell you it doesn’t take thousands of years for old wood to calcify.  It took an hour, a saw, a drill with 2 different bits, one dandelion digger that didn’t survive the ordeal and a hammer to finally clear that corner.

So the post is in, I’ve taken another super serious shower and some ibuprofen for my sore shoulders.  YA and I had lunch after we had finished and we both agreed that we learned a lesson that we could apply to the gate post – that we were hiring someone else to do it!

Any projects that you’ve gotten dirty doing?

 

Tales of Woe

Last week I got bitten by a bee, on my bottom lip.  I felt the bee start to fly in my mouth (I’m sure that’s not where he/she meant to go) and I spit it out pretty quickly, but not before I got a mild sting.  No big swelling, no allergic reaction but it did hurt for a few days.  On Day 3, if I looked REALLY hard, I could see a teeny whitish blister.  Kinda.  Certainly no one else could see it, including YA.

Then on Monday, while hammering a nail in the bathroom, I missed the nail and whacked by left index finger something good.  I swore so loudly that I had to go apologize to the neighbors.  It really hurt.  No bruise, no blood under the fingernail.  Nothing except for the lingering soreness.

Now I don’t know about you but I think if you get hurt enough that it still hurts after a day or so, you should get a little bruise or a blister or something.  It doesn’t have to be some egregious wound, just a little badge of honor for your pain.

Have you ever received a trophy (or badge or prize)?

Who’s Choosing the Menu?

After the great naan breakfast recipe last week, we had ricotta cheese left.  I hate throwing out food so I bought some lasagna noodles and told YA what I was going to make.

The morning I started to make the dish, YA wandered into the kitchen.  “Make lasagna rolls instead of regular lasagna” she said.  I whined and said this was a lot more work than just quickly layering stuff into one pan.  She whined a bit more and I told her (as I was putting the noodles into the boiling water) that I would think about it.  This is straight-up parent-speak for “No, but I want you to quit bugging me about it.”

She left me in the kitchen and a few minutes later, I heard the vacuum running upstairs.  I made the lasagna rolls.

Is there anybody who can push your buttons this well?

Plants on the Move

Ligularia, or “The Rocket”, is one of my favorite shade plants.  We have several in our yard, and I like to pair them with Hydrangeas.  They can be somewhat alarming when it is hot, as they droop in the day, but then they perk right up again after it cools in the evening. They come in different heights and leaf colors. I like the large ones with big green leaves.

I am an impatient gardener, and I plant things too close. I seem to forget just how big Hydrangeas get, and that they will muscle out anything next to them if it isn’t far enough away. This happened recently on the north side of the garage. I had planted Ligularia too close to the Hydrangeas, and the they became completely covered.  Ligularia can become quite large, as you can see in the header photo.  The ones in the north bed were puny, so last Saturday I decided to transplant them to a more open space in the fern bed. It is shady and they can predominate over the ferns. I was amazed to see how resourceful the Ligularia were, and that they had actually migrated from the middle of the Hydrangea bed to the very edge of it, as though to escape the larger shrubs. I initially planted them in a straight line with the Hydrangeas, and here they had moved at least a foot north to the edge of the bed. It is as though they tried to transplant themselves.

We have become more strategic landscapers in the past few years,  but our tendency is to plant where there is  room and to fill in empty spaces somewhat willy nilly. I suppose that is why we end up transplanting things a lot.

What is your landscaping strategy?  What have been your successful and not so successful outcomes?

 

Breakfast Naan

Even though I have a strict rule about cookbooks (if I buy one, I have to get rid of one), it doesn’t stop me from checking them out from the library.  I love reading through cookbooks, seeing what different chefs/authors do, with new or old ingredients and techniques.  It’s been a while since a cookbook has been tempting enough for me to want my own copy, but I usually find one or two recipes that I like.

I found a Naan Breakfast Pizza recipe recently that I thought would be fun to adapt to my kitchen.  It turned out great.  Here is how I made my version:

(this is for one, but you can certainly make more at one time)

½ naan bread (I’m only socializing w/ the dog these days so I used garlic naan)
1 tablespoon ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 strips vegetarian bacon
2 tablespoons grated gruyere cheese
1 scallion, chopped
4-5 grape tomatoes (or any other kind of tomato you like, or have on hand), chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

  • Grease a pan (or spray it).
  • Spread the ricotta over the naan, making a slight “well” in the middle
  • Crack the egg into the “well”
  • Arrange the bacon around the egg
  • Sprinkle the gruyere, scallion and tomatoes over the naan
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Stick in a 400 F oven for about 10 minutes – until the egg is the way you like it.
  • Enjoy!

Have you tried anything new lately?

Weeds

Husband and I returned home last Tuesday from Brookings to a garden jungle of weeds. It rained every day we were gone, and the temperatures were quite warm, so everything grew. We weeded on Wednesday.  Husband estimated we  hauled about 50 pounds of weeds to the city  grass clippings and weeds dumpsters,

I have never seen the utility of using a hoe to weed. It just cuts the weeds off at the top, and leaves the roots to produce the weeds again. We are hands and knees, crawl through the garden and pull the weeds up by the roots sort of gardeners. We are, however, getting older and Husband has neuropathy in his fingers from diabetes.

This year we tried a new strategy, laying down newspapers between the rows  and on the edges of the beds and covering them with a layer of top soil. That really helped  keep the weeds down. Husband has bought at least 30 bags of topsoil toward this endeavor, and after weeding yesterday he liberally strewed newspaper and dirt in all the places he hadn’t before.  It was a real pleasure to gaze at the garden yesterday and see nary a weed.

What is your favorite garden tool?  What special satisfaction do you get from gardening?

Retro – Again

It seems a truism that “what goes around, comes around” but I hadn’t given it much thought until about a month ago when YA announced that she wanted to do tie-dye.  She normally gives me a lot of grief when I wear one of the two tie-dyed shirts that I still own, so it was a surprise that apparently tie-dye is cool again.  Only pastel now.

The last time we did die-dye was several years ago and in the process we had used up several colors, so new ingredients were needed.  I got onto the website of Dharma Trading Company (a good source for a lot of fabric crafts) and let her choose the colors she wanted.  It took almost 3 weeks for the supplies to arrive since their warehouse is only staffed by 2 people at a time right now and YA probably asked me every other day when the order would arrive.   I ordered a “blank” sundress for myself, YA got two t-shirts and a sweatshirt for herself.

Despite the fact that I’ve done tie-dye for years, YA didn’t trust my knowledge, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.  I sent her off to do her own research and “voila”… all my advice was corroborated, including making sure you wash your fabric to get the sizing out before you start dyeing.  She REALLY didn’t believe me when I had said this was necessary.  Thank you, Google.

She got the dining room table all set up while I mixed the dyes in the individual squirt bottles. Then we tied our projects.  I went for a traditional sunburst pattern while YA only wanted the general “scrunch” look (no particular pattern in the end).  I also wanted to use bright colors so I did my dyeing first and then YA headed back to the kitchen to water down the colors she wanted so her pieces would be pastel.  Lots of color swatches on paper towels before she got what she wanted.

It was hard for her to wait 24 hours while the dye was setting and she was very concerned that if we did the final wash (in the washing machine) the color from my dress would bleed onto her shirts.  Once again, thank you, Google.  They turned out great – I’ve seen her wear both of her t-shirts already and I assume I’ll see the sweatshirt again when the weather cools down.  Unless tie-dye goes out of style before that!

What would you like to see come around again?