Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Half Hour, I Promise!

A half hour Paul said. That's all he would need to do some weeding in the front bed. I thought, hmm, half hour -- I could thin out the front maple. Of course a half hour turned into two hours, but we made some good progress. Paul has 95% of the weeding done. I thinned the maple, rhododendron, and cleaned up a bunch of plants. I also hacked away at my nemesis the burning bush. I don't know the correct name, but I call it the burning bush. In the summertime it's thick and green with tiny yellow flowers -- beautiful. In the early fall the leaves turn blood red -- beautiful. Then in the late fall through the winter it's a bunch of twigs -- not so beautiful. I never knew what to do with the bush so I've let it go. It was about four feet in diameter when Paul and I married, and now it's about eight feet in diameter so I'm slowly trimming it back.

Now that so much of the bed is cleaned up we'll have to find some plants to fill in the gaps. It was amazing to see the bleeding hearts coming back. Anne and Lisa gave them to me for Mother's Day about eight years ago, and I haven't seen them for about six years. Even the Jack in the Pulpit I planted around the same time has reappeared. There's a mystery plant that we'll let live another week before we decide if it's a plant or a weed.

We're making some progress on our yard one weekend at a time. Maybe this will be the year when we finally put a retaining wall around the bed.

Paul models for the camera.

And after!

Garden Haircut

I always forget to take the "before" picture until after. I was almost done with the Spinach before I caught myself, so I was able to get a shot of my lettuce before they received their haircuts.

We went to the Proctor Market yesterday, and I just couldn't resist a few purchases to add to our garden. I had promised Paul no more additions but he was a good sport, and agreed to these two. So I am pleased to announce that we are now the proud owners of a Negronne Fig tree and a Mary Washington Asparagus plant. Both of which will grow quite happily in containers according to the lovely man from Calendula -- can't wait!

Tonight Paul wants to barbecue but I'm thinking spinach salad. Hmm...with thin slices of red onion, a few bacon sprinkles, a sliced egg and an herbed goat cheese vinaigrette along with a few slices of River Valley Ranch cheese, and a loaf of french bread from the Upper Crust, yum! And that's what's for dinner tonight folks!

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Favorite Summer Salad

This month's Sunset Magazine had a recipe for Asparagus Summer Salad which I had to try. Luckily Paul had purchased some asparagus at the Proctor Farmers Market, and we actually had the rest of the ingredients on hand. Well except for the Feta which we substituted with some herbed goat cheese (oh, the sacrifices we make). I was excited to snip all the herbs for the salad from our garden -- basil, chives and cilantro. This was such a yummy salad, you have to try it:

Asparagus Summer Salad

2 lbs. thick asparagus cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tbsp each fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup each each (we didn't measure) chopped fresh basil, chives, and cilantro
1 cup (we used 1/2 the onion) thinly sliced red onion
3/4 cup (we used 1/2 cup) toasted pine nuts
2 oz. feta cheese crumbled (we used herbed goat cheese)
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Drop asparagus into water and cook until bright green and slightly softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain asparagus and rinse with very cold water until cool to the touch.

2. In a large bowl whisk together lemon juice, mustard, oil and herbs. Add asparagus, onion, pine nuts, feta, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
Serves 6 (according to the recipe. Paul and I split the salad with a small loaf of crusty bread, and a nice bottle of wine.)

Memorial Day Weekend

Some people like to get away for the holiday. Others plan gatherings and barbecues in the comfort of their decks and yards. Paul's plan was to bring home the laptop to prepare for the financial meeting he has tomorrow. Luckily I was able to steal him away for a few side trips.

Saturday was busy, tiring and fun. We rode our bikes down to the Proctor Farmers Market, about a five mile ride. We could have bought one of everything there, but luckily we remembered we didn't bring the car and settled on some cheese, asparagus, and baby bok choy. After we dropped off the groceries we headed to Tacoma Wine Merchant to pick up our wine club selections (and a few other bottles too). The weather was so glorious we didn't want to go back home so we headed off to Dukes for a late lunch and some water gazing. For dinner Paul barbecued a couple steaks along with the baby bok choy we purchased that morning. Then Heather and Rick surprised us with dessert which we enjoyed after a game of Scrabble (Rick won). They brought a growler of Oatmeal Stout (please correct me Heather, I know I didn't get the name right) which we had over vanilla ice cream -- a grown up (root)beer float. It was yummy!
Sunday we met Lynn for breakfast, and then did a "photo shoot" around the Bostwick Building. You'll hear about that later. Then we stopped at the Swiss to leave a card and some flowers in memory of Gayl Bertagni. When we returned home we set to weeding the front bed and building a small retaining wall on the side of our porch. Later that afternoon Kevin, Laura, and Jessica came over for a barbecue. We had shish-kabobs. It was a lovely day, but believe me I was ready for bed!

Monday started off slowly as we relaxed over coffee and pancakes. Paul decided to continue with the weeding while I started knitting some washcloths for Kevin. Then Paul set out to Salmon Beach to visit with the kids at their mom's house. I did some shopping, and we met up in time to throw together some dinner. We spread the last bag of mulch over the front bed and called it a day. Now all we need a vacation to recover from the three day holiday.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Artists Reception

Tacoma Art Place had a show featuring the art work of past 100th Monkey tile artists. I was one of about eight artists who participated. Last night was the Artists Reception, and it was nice to see how many of my friends attended the event. I was especially happy to see my friend Charan because although we've kept in touch through emails and the occasional phone call I think it's been close to a year since I've last seen him. He and I spent the bulk of the evening chatting away, and by the time I knew it the gathering was almost over, and I had hardly spoken a word to any of my friends so please, Heather, Jennifer, Jennevieve, Jori, Kevin, Lynn, Marse, Rick and especially Paul (hopefully I haven't forgotten anyone) please excuse my bad manners. Thanks for taking pictures Paul!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Downtown Farmers Market

Today Heather and I attended the opening day for the Tacoma's Downtown Farmers Market. I love farmers markets. So much fun to roam up one side of the aisle and down the other admiring the artfully arranged produce, tempting bakery items, ice chests filled with frozen meat and fish, and free cheese samples. Flower merchants whip together beautiful bouquets to adorn your tables, crafters proudly display their wares, food vendors from your favorite restaurants, and the people -- what better place to watch people?

Let's back it up a bit. First we must fuel our bodies so that we have the energy to shop, and so we stop at Satellite Coffee. Luckily for us Zachary was the barista on duty, and he quickly whipped us up our morning lattes: 12 oz Mocha with Soy for Heather, and a 12 oz Mocha with Hemp Milk for me. Since it was a special occasion we splurged on a blueberry scone, and a snicker doodle -- yum!

Fueled and ready for the day we arrived at the market to purchase our goods. Heather scored some lovely plants, spinach, green garlic, and rhubarb. I admit that I don't like rhubarb. I don't understand why it's good to take a hard stringy stem, add a bunch of sugar, and cook it to a gooshy-pulp to spoon on ice cream, or bake in a pie or cake. And why must strawberries be sacrificed to this gooey mess?

I copied Heather with the green garlic from Zestful Garden and spinach from Terry's Berries (we both read the Orangette blog on green garlic and spinach soup -- I'll let you know how it turns out), some cows milk blue cheese from Willipa Hills Farmstead Cheese, smoked Alaskan red salmon from Rolf's Choice, and Lime-Riesling Chimichurri from Sound Bites Sauce & Spread Co. My best purchase of the day however was several skeins of reclaimed yarn from the Smart Monkey yarn lady.

Such a fun day, but I was happy to take my treasures home and put my aching feet up for a rest. Can't wait till next Thursday.