Monday, June 25, 2012

Garden Update #2

It's been very warm so the garden has been growing pretty well. We also had two days of heavy rainfall last week which probably kicked things into gear too.

Some of the wildflowers have started to bloom, even though the Morning Glory looks like it's threatening to choke out a few of them.

The two happy squash plants are producing tiny baby squash. The other two plants seem to be growth-stunted.
The dill is blooming and the lemon verbana is trying to take over. (they're to the right in this picture)

We caged the tomatoes and I'm hoping that the Mortgage Lifters will perk up now that they're off the soil. The cherry varieties are making lots of green tomatoes and a few ripe ones.

I still have one empty bed (at the front) but I may put down some bean seeds in it since our growing season lasts into October.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Finished kitchen update

Finished! Well mostly finished. There's still the dryer venting issue to contend with and I have to buy frames for the Etsy prints I bought, but the big stuff is done.

Doug spent a whole Tuesday night putting the island together. It looks great and has some nice storage space for some of my baking pans. The top is maple and the whole thing is super sturdy. We're really pleased with it and we'll be able to take it with us if we move. It's given me so much more space for prepping and making.
The shelves we were going to make ended up not being made. On one of our (many) trips to Lowes we saw some pre-made shelves and just bought those instead. So they aren't DIY but they look good and I think they'll hold up pretty well.

The counter tops finally got installed and they're so nice and smooth as opposed to the tile we had before. It's a hundred times easier to clean them too since we don't have to dig into the grout. I love the under-mount sink, it's slightly deeper than our old one and holds more.
I couldn't find any curtains I really liked and after searching for inspiration on the internet I thought it would be neat to do cafe curtains. I bought the hardware at Target and used a fabric shower curtain, also from Target, for the fabric. The shower curtain was $20 and made the curtains for the window and almost fit the back door. I did end up about 4 inches short on the back door curtain, so I picked up some lace to sew at the bottom to make up for the missing inches. Still not bad for twenty-ish dollars. Plus if we get tired of the pattern we can just grab another shower curtain (Target has some really great looking and reasonably priced fabric shower curtains).

Our new dishwasher was the final installation piece and it came last week. It's quieter and more efficient than our old one.

All and all we are very happy with the way everything turned out. The dryer thing is obviously something we didn't plan for, even though the installer knew about it beforehand he didn't take the lazy susan in the cabinet into account, but it has been our only major hiccup. It was hard in the interim between the cabinet installation and the countertop/sink installation and I probably whined about it more than was necessary but we are both glad we did it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Baking with Julia: French Strawberry Cake

This is the part where normally I would show you a photo of a cake, a French Strawberry Cake. Unfortunately, to see that you'll have to go to the blogs of the other bakers in BWJ. Apparently I am just not able to make a genoise cake without screwing it up. I had a similar problem with the batter when we made the Berry Surprise Cake from the Dorie "Baking" book. Somewhere between adding the flour and the butter I made a grievous mistake and deflated the batter. It all seemed fine until it came out of the oven and was about 1/2" inch thick.

Ugh. There was no way it was going to be sliced into three layers. I let and cool and tasted a piece just for posterity's sake and it was just awful. Hard and rubbery. A total waste of eggs, butter, sugar, and flour. Did I mention I was making this for dessert later that night? Instead I tossed the genoise fail, utilized the strawberries, made sweet cream biscuits for shortcakes, and used the heavy cream to make whipped cream. I think my cooking mojo was totally off on Saturday period because I was not happy with the shortcakes either. Dinner was not my best work. I owe my friends who came over a do-over with a better menu. 

Anyway, to go see what this cake should have looked like visit Sophia's Sweets or Think, Love, Sleep, Dine - they hosted this week's recipe and have very nice cakes to see!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Garden 2012

With all the house updates going on, I failed to mention what's happening with my little vegetable garden this year. I decided to keep it simple since baby is due at the end of July and I really don't want to spend too much time dragging the water hose outside and being munched on by mosquitoes. I bought eight tomato plants, Black Cherry, Mortgage Lifter, San Marzano and Mr. Stripey. I also planted four yellow squash plants, lemon verbena, dill, basil, oregano and thyme. For two of my six beds I spread a wildflower mixture. I'm not really sure what's in there but it's growing. In one of the same beds my Morning Glory vine from last year has reseeded itself and is taking over. 

Here are photos from May 14th (there's a lot of weed eating/edging that needs to happen back there, until then it looks pretty hairy). 

Tomatoes & herbs
Wildflowers/Morning Glory
And here are photos from yesterday, the tomatoes really need to be staked/caged and something is munching on my herbs. 

 Squash, two plants looks good, two plants look crappy. Maybe powdery mildew? 
Wildflowers/Morning Glory, which is totally taking over the back bed
This bed is where the cucumbers were last year and one came back but looks rather puny, plus my neighbor's cat is using it as a litterbox (grrrr). I might try to go grab a couple of things and plant there just because it looks sad.
Doug's grapes, maybe we'll get some edible grapes out of them this year!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Nursey update

Our nursery/baby room is coming together quite nicely. When we were on vacation the first of April we finished clearing it out, painted it, set up the crib, and hung some of the prints we had. In the last few weeks we've continued to work on it, most of the big stuff is done, just little things remain.

Project number one was to sew ribbon loops (thanks for the idea Lynsey!) on the back of a baby quilt to hang over the crib. My mom actually made this quilt in 1979, two years before I was born. I distinctly remembering sleeping with it/playing on it during my childhood. I just bought some wide, white grosgrain ribbon at Michael's, cut five lengths of it, roughly the same size, evenly spaced them across the top, and then hand-sewed the loops to the backside. I didn't want to use my sewing machine since it's an older piece and I wanted the stitches to be loose enough to remove if I needed to. The curtain rod is really too long so Doug is going to shorten it.
Project number two was to cut fabric pieces from my stash and stretch them over embroidery hoops to hang over the changing table. Super cheap project because I already had the fabric and some of the hoops, but even the hoops I had to buy were less than $2. This project has probably been done a million times now, I first saw it on this Nursery Tour at Ohdeedoh (now Apartment Therapy Family) but it originally came from Purl Bee. I cut the fabric slightly larger than the hoop, trimmed off the really big parts, and hot glued the cut edges down to the back of the hoop. It's a cute, inexpensive decoration, plus the fabric can be changed and they're so lightweight they won't hurt baby if they fall off the wall.
Project number three was curtain hemming. We bought the curtains at Ikea when we went to Atlanta in April. They came with some iron-on hem stuff that sucked/did not work. So I set out to hem them myself, which took me a while and included me catching my index finger in the sewing machine needle, ouch. But they are finally done and while they aren't perfect they look nice and I doubt anyone is going to go measure the hems.

Project number four is mostly Doug. My grandmother gave me a chiffarobe that belonged to my great-grandparents when I moved out on my own. For the baby's room I painted it red (I think it's called Ladybug and it's from the Martha paint line at Home Depot). The doors used to have really old mirrors in them. Doug removed the mirror panels and replaced them with panels covered in cork. The middle door is just a piece of wood he cut to fit and I painted with gray chalkboard paint (from the Martha line at Michael's). Doug is still finishing up all but one of the drawers, which I need to line once he's done. The knobs are from Lowes. I had thought about using some fancy drawer pulls from Anthropologie from decided to wait and just use the less expensive Lowes option. I was able to hang the clothes we have inside, I think we should have enough room for baby clothes and socks in the whole piece.

My next crafty-project to finish is the yarn ball mobile. I covered styrofoam balls with yarn (and a dab of hot glue) and some craft store purse handles (the round parts) but I have yet to put the whole thing together. I still need to figure out exactly how to do it. I'm also covering this giant 'B' (for our last name) with yarn. It's kind of a pain to do because of the large wad of yarn and the curves of the letter, luckily, I've got until July to finish.