Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forcing bulbs

I really am a gardener at heart. This I realize after my last clump of posts has been about creating a garden in two square feet of windowsill, in pots the size of a shot glass. (Not quite, but still...)

We went back to Medford for Thanksgiving on these lovely but treacherous roads -- this is your idea of a clear road, ODOT? I spent one glorious half-afternoon playing in the garden. I do mean playing, since I spent part of my time hurling frostbitten vegetables at the fence. (One zealously thrown honeydew nearly ended up in the pool. I'm kind of sorry it didn't.) In between playing, we raked leaves, dug dahlia tubers and ripped out the dead plants. Catharsis.

I also dug up a few clumps of grape hyacinth bulbs, which infest our yard like a plague. Thought they'd make a nice addition to my growing garden.
I also saw the opportunity to get the geranium, the leaves of which had been turning red (due, I suspect, to the coffee grounds I dumped on it a while ago) into a new setup. Currently, that's a jar of water, but I'm going to get a new pot for it soon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I propagated a begonia a while back, and finally potted it in this super-cool terrarium I bought few years ago under the belief that it was a lantern. (And then once I realized that it wasn't, I thought I could turn it into a lantern. I have since accepted it's a terrarium and decided to use it as such.) Now I'm rooting some geranium cuttings in it and letting the little begonia grow in the most humid environment I can make for it. Cool, huh?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (minus the parsley)

My little windowsill garden has been plodding along, and yesterday, I started finishing it. This already-started trio of herbs (sage, rosemary and thyme) came from Trader Joe's (LOVE!).

All three plants were growing in one pot, so I split them into separate pots so a) they'd fit better on my windowsills and b) I could use the pots I recently found. The herbs were fairly densely rooted, so I used an old butter knife to work the roots apart.

The smell was intoxicating while I was working on separating them, and I am quite pleased with the results.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I don't like thift stores. Sorry.

I'm not really a big fan of thrift stores. I don't particularly like digging through piles of other people's unwanted crap without the guarantee that I'll find what I'm looking for, plus they always seem kind of...unsanitary. And one that I went to smelled. This is probably very elitist of me to say.

(I'm also completely amazed by the plain old junk in these places. I know all about the concept of trash into treasure, but WHO buys these tacky little statuettes of cats playing with balls of yarn or garden gnome pitchers in the first place? And is there anyone out there who wants used Tupperware? Ew.)But I'm in need of a few items, and resale shops were/are my best bet. Items needed: a dresser for the apartment (those under-the-bed boxes ...I'm over it. Especially since mine don't fit under the bed.) and some trays for those little pots I got for the windowsill.
Being very picky, I struck out on the dresser. (I'm still stalking Craigslist daily.) But I did come up with some nearly perfect metal trays for those pots. So now, I just need some plants to complete my sweet little windowsill garden!
Items not needed: this silver-plated Paul Revere bowl. But for $4... It's amazing what a little silver polish will do. (That's the "before.") Right in time for Christmas decorations. Also, there was a lady who saw me eyeing it and chatted me up for 10 minutes about how she'd gotten one as a wedding present, it was perfect for everything, blah, blah, and I felt guilty about putting it back after that. So here we are.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Goodbye, blurry pictures

I'm super-excited about this cheap-o tripod I got from the dollar store. (Confession: I totally love dollar stores...there is so much great stuff to be found, and I usually come out with some little item I am jazzed about. My favorite wine glasses are from the dollar store.) I've had these before, but I keep losing them. They're really helpful for taking pictures without a flash (ick) and perfectly purse sized.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Snow day

Yesterday was the second snowy day we've had here, and I have to say, I'd forgotten how much I love snow. I remembered loving it, but didn't remember that I could happily spend the whole day looking out the window. Which I almost did. You can see in the picture that it wasn't really snowflakes wafting down to earth, since they'd clumped together to form "megaflakes."

The only appropriate food for a day like yesterday is soup. (Well, to be fair, scotch, hot chocolate, warm chocolate chip cookies and pancakes also make the cut, but who EVER turns those down?) So I had this sausage bean soup. (Leftovers from last week.) I've made a few changes since I started making this recipe last year, including:
  • Sometimes I add spinach (I think the recipe says fresh, but frozen works fine)
  • Switched to using shell pasta -- it's cuter
  • Add celery. I have this thing for cooked celery. Weird, I know.
  • More onion, more canned tomatoes, more carrots.
  • Crushed red pepper, since the sausage I use now isn't as spicy. This is a great spicy soup.
I love using it when we're having people over for dinner since it makes the house smell so good. Soup, fresh bread and salad make a perfect wintry fall dinner (or lunch).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Flower pots + pound cake

Last week, I went with a friend to Pack It. (I've been sitting here for three minutes starting and deleting sentences, trying to describe this place.) It's kind of like a junkyard/salvage lot, with a pinch of garage sale, and a dash of antique store, if you're lucky and you know what to look for. On steroids. An acre or so of the most unlikely and utilitarian and just plain weird junk I've ever seen. Anyway, I found these pots among the heaps of pre-owned toilets, unwanted industrial air conditioners and old furniture.
Well, the terra cotta ones, except for the one in the saucer...I had that already. Vestige from my past (brief) life as a cubicle dweller. The whole collection was only a few bucks, and they're the perfect size for those southwest-facing windowsills.

My little begonia that's rooting in water is almost ready to be planted. Some geranium cuttings and other to-be-determined plants will fill out the rest. Just goes to show, you can take the gardener out of the garden, but you can't take the garden out of the gardener.

In other news, we've eaten three pound cakes in the last five days. Wow, that's really bad. The cakes were really good, though. (This is what remains of the last one.) I meant to freeze at least one, but I kind of ate it instead. These things happen. I make no apologies.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sort of successful roast beast

At some point earlier this week, I got it in my head that I should make roast beef. It was always among the highlights of Sunday brunches growing up, and I couldn't think of any reason why I shouldn't make it. In retrospect, these:
  • I have never been successful cooking big pieces of animal (chicken stands out in particular)
  • I don't have the greatest track record of baked meals turning out well
  • I'd never made a roast before
  • Picking cruddy cuts of meat is a hidden talent of mine
all should have been good deterrents. Anyway, I picked up something labeled "round rump roast" at the grocery store, which looked very much like the pictures of what I'd planned on making. As is the case for some women when jeans shopping, the "rump" ruined everything. Little did I know I'd picked up a super-tough piece of meat.

Anyway, things turned out ok. Todd liked it a lot more than I did, which isn't saying much, since I found the combination of spices I used borderline nauseating. (Dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, kosher salt, cracked black pepper.) It must have been the basil/oregano. Other than that, it was kind of like chewing on beef-flavored shoe leather. Todd ate it on sandwiches.

It ended up sort of like the picture. Not really that bad, but not really that good, either. Lesson: get the right cut of meat.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Indoor gardening

While it 100% sucks that I don't have a 30-by-40-foot garden anymore, it hasn't stopped me from propagating ...houseplants. That I technically have very little space for. It's just so fun, to make things grow, and also free. This particular one was a necessity, because my begonia (a gift from Todd) was starting to get one stem that was too long.

It hurt my heart to just snap it off and toss it, so I put it in a vase of water to see what'd happen. A few weeks later, roots!

Still not sure what I'm going to do with it, but I have a while to figure that out. It needs more time in the water to sprout plenty of healthy roots. I'll pot it in a few weeks. I don't think it's possible for a reasonable person to have too many potted plants.