Archive | August, 2010

What’s that smell?!

31 Aug

So, I said in my last post that I’d write about my compost pile.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia>Compost

Well, it’s been a journey, let’s just say that…

I started said compost this winter, with the purchase of a garbage can at Target. Now, you can get really spendy with your compost bin. They have these crazy-shaped round monstrosities, but I wanted to stick with something simple (and cheap). You know what? I stand behind my choice. I just use plastic grocery bags as a liner (but always ALWAYS check for holes beforehand), and make sure the lid is firmly tight. But all spring and winter, the garbage can worked perfectly, and it will again. But right now, fruit flies are driving me and Chris crazy, so we’re keeping the compost in an old tupperware container in the fridge and emptying it every couple days.

However, the smell when emptying the compost bin is another story. I have to hold my breath, and I still gag. Ugh, nothing is a worse smell than the combination of banana peels, radish ends, egg shells, and kiwi skins.

Quiz! What can’t you put in a compost?

Answer: animal by-products! Or vegetables that have touched animal by-products! Or corn cobs! Some people use a specific 3 browns (grass, leaves) to 1 green (vegetable products) ratio, but…I don’t try that hard. And mine still works. You have to keep it wet, though! I empty my dehumidifier into the compost pile to keep it moist when it hasn’t rained in awhile.

Luckily for me, Betty and her husband (whose name we don’t know, so he’ll just be Betty’s husband from now on, or we could call him Peanut Eater, as his peanut shells can still be found all over the backyard–those things don’t break down!) already had a sweet two-compartment compost bin. For those of you who aren’t compost savvy, you need two compartments for your compost: one for the old stuff, one for the new stuff. Then, the old stuff is ready for you to put on your garden while the new stuff is still decomposing and readying itself. The compost bin is falling apart in some spots and needs to be tuned up a bit, but that’s a later project.

Early this summer, I had my first compost harvest and used it on my beans and tomatoes. And those beans=delicious! The tomatoes=pure beauty!! Oh, the tomatoes! I could write a song for them. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten tomatoes so amazing.

But since then, disaster has struck. A family of bees have made their home in one-half of my compost bin. Which, explains my bee sting this weekend. I know, I know–I should’ve stayed away. My mom told me to leave it alone for the rest of the year, but I was just working on the other half! They didn’t live there yet! But, it didn’t matter. I made those bees angry, and I don’t think I’m welcome back. But they’ll see…next spring, that compost is mine! And just think how rich and beautiful that soil will be…

Oh, and of course, wikiHow has a post on how to compost.

Ok, Mom (and you other composters), please tell me what else I shouldn’t put in the compost. I know the banana stickers don’t belong there, but, honestly, I’m too lazy to remember to take them off.

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Today, a bee stung my face; and other stories

28 Aug

Seriously, a bee stung my face. Right next to my lips. It flew right into my cheek, and I felt the fuzz smash against me, followed by a prickly feeling. I firmly brushed that @#$% bee off (although, the bee fuzz felt oddly nice against my face), and walked quickly away from where I was working in my compost (which will be another post) and into the kitchen, followed by Chris’s mom, who was helping me work in the compost. She told me to hold onion against where the sting was. By the time I cut a piece of onion, my face was tingly and the pain was getting worse by the second. I could feel it swelling.

A BEE STUNG ME ON THE FACE!!! What kind of bee does that?!

Sorry, I just had to get that out.

Anyway, if a bee ever stings you on the face, or anywhere else for that matter, put some onion on it. It started feeling better right away. My face was slightly swollen for a little while, but not for even an hour I don’t think. There’s a tiny little dot next to my lips from the stinger, but other than that, no sign. Onions are amazing!

Ok, now for the other stories. Chris’ parents came over to help cut down some branches. We have a sad little birch tree next to the garden, and it had a branch that had fallen onto our power line. So, whenever there was a strong wind, we’d lose power. Lots o’ fun. But, we were too scared to cut it down ourselves. I can’t think of a single thing his dad is afraid of, so of course he came over to help!

The men cut down some stuff. I tried not to think about what they were doing. For example:

The ladder is resting on a ledge. Yes, a ledge. Ok, on the "earth" next to a ledge. Chris made me type that.

A couple of crazies, those two. But, look at their accomplishments:

Pile #1

Pile #2

Now, with all these branches down, our sunset view will be even more lovely. We have an awesome view. Our 3 season porch is on the east side of the house, overlooking Pig’s Eye Lake. I was going to link to a page showing lovely pictures of the lake, but there are none. Instead, here’s the wikipedia post on its namesake, Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant. Interesting guy.

Besides opening up our view and getting limbs off power lines, they also took some branches off of one of our two Catalpa (Or Catawba, wikipedia tells me) trees. Also known as gigantour leaf-tree that killed the sunflowers, transplanted ferns, and a good section of grass on our lawn:

No, no grass.

See?

But no one fell off any ladders. There were some branch scrapes, but nothing life-threatening.

And now, it’s time to eat a delicious salad, watch a movie, and veg out. It’s hard work bringing branches up a hill into a pile. (I’m sure it’s also hard to cut them down, but I did not do that. I weeded and transferred. And was stung by a bee, in case you forgot).

That brings me to another story that I thought about during the day. I recently read the book, “Island,” by Aldous Huxley. It’s about an Utopian society that is being threatened by modern society. It’s not always a page-turner, but I recommend it. Anyway, this society has people of all professions: doctors, construction workers, librarians, teachers. But no matter how smart you are, you still have to do manual labor every week, work with your hands. I really see the meaning in that, and I think it’s a really good thing. Chris and I both have desk jobs, and I think it’s important for not only our house’s aesthetics but for our own mental health that we do hard labor outside.

That’s my advice for this post: go outside and sweat it out.

A three-and-a-half-year-old’s point of view

22 Aug

NOT her point of view, but my mother's

My sister and her daughter came from LA for a visit this week. One afternoon, my niece took my camera and snapped, oh, 40 pictures with it. And the pictures she took told a story all their own. Observe:

Sheer is sexier than lace

17 Aug

Chris and I have been up to quite a bit, but our projects are vastly different. To explain, this is his major accomplishment of the week:

Brandilicious. It's grown-up taste.

As for mine, I’ve been sweating at the sewing machine (quite literally; even with the air conditioner on, it’s frickin’ hot upstairs, and, if I turn a fan on, I can’t hear my netflix videos, and ultimately Veronica Mars Season 3 or the Tudors Season 1 is more important than overworking my sweat glands).

So, my last crafty craft post received quite the response over my handy new lunch tote. And one of the responders happened to be getting married the next weekend. I quickly stitched together a little tote, put their card and gift card inside, and then tied it up with a ribbon. I was quite pleased with myself over this because every part of the gift could be reused or recycled. Exhibit A:

Sorry, Rory, that I only made Amber a lunch tote. I’m not sure I can see you bringing one of these to work with you.

On a side note, I didn’t use scraps of fabric for this one, but brand spankin’ new fabric that I cut into especially for it. I didn’t want to go overboard on patterns with a gift. You know, I try to give people stuff they’ll actually use. Sometimes.

And a related project:

I personally like the rectangle pillow the best. Chris is not a fan of the ribbon because it has strawberries on it. This, I’ve been told, is not manly enough. But the second, non-ribboned pillow is just so boring that I feel like it’s the less-loved child. And, as the mother, I’m sad to admit that I do love it less.

And now, the reason for the title of the post. If you scroll back to posts past, you will see evidence of lace curtains up in our house. Lace, is not my personal friend. Especially old lady lace (sorry, Betty). Some of the lace that was up at the house had patterns of houses in it. That was the first to go. This lace downstairs was less sinister, but still lace. We took it down at one point, but the window looked really naked, and not in a good way. So, I refashioned some curtains that I had used in my old apartment that didn’t have a use in the new house, as the windows here are smaller. I was able to keep the loops at the top and just cut them to the size I wanted and hemmed the bottoms. And it’s a huge step up!

Sheer is sexy!

So there it is! We’re pretty proud of our house, and it gets lovelier every day.

I have a secret

10 Aug

I’ve been keeping it on the DL because I didn’t want word to spread to those who could ruin it for me.

The deer didn’t get all the beans. Ha! Take that @#$% deer!!! They mostly decimated the first crop, but the second crop was so young when they got to it, that most of the beans hadn’t even flowered yet. And so, yesterday, this is what I found (but, it wasn’t a surprise, I knew they were there, just for clarification):

And so I steamed them up and we had a delicious meal with chicken sautéed with basil (also from the garden), a delicious white sauce, and take and bake bread that we dipped in olive oil from my aunt and uncle’s farm in New Zealand. I make a pretty mean dinner when I want to.

There’s just something extra amazing about eating food that you grew and tended to yourself. One obvious benefit is saving money, and another obvious one is that it’s fresher, since we ate the beans literally half an hour after they were picked.

Now, I should point out that this way of life is synchronized with how I grew up. My mom’s garden is something I strive for, but, living in the city, I just don’t have the space. She has rows and rows of tomatoes, and zucchini, more beans than a family could eat, strawberries, lettuce, kale, potatoes, kohlrabi, table onions, and probably other stuff that I’m forgetting. She has an entirely separate herb garden. That’s what I want, to never (or at least rarely) buy vegetables in the summer. She cans a lot of it, too, for presents and for the cold winter months when that can’t get off the farm for weeks at a time (ha).

So, I will continue to do my best to sustain Chris and myself with just beans this summer. And then there are these gems just teasing me:

But they’re all mine! Chris doesn’t like tomatoes. Which is all the better for me. Unfortunately, he does like Truffle Shuffle ice cream.

The only reason I will mow the lawn.

8 Aug

You might think I’d mow the lawn because Chris deserves a break sometimes and I love him, but you’d be wrong. Oh, how wrong you would be!

Betty left us with two lawn mowers when she moved out because we live on a hill, and carrying a lawn mower down the stairs to the lower part of the lawn is not going to happen, even for a young strapping man like Chris. Last summer, it was so dry that after closing day, Chris only had to mow once (closing day was Aug. 31). This summer, no such luck (however, in regards to my garden, if it had been that dry, I would have been miserable and sad).

But, while Chris is fabulous at mowing lawns, he’s not exactly a mechanic. So, neither of the lawn mowers would start this spring when it was time to mow. We chatted, and he let me get him a lawn mower for his birthday (I know, fun present, right?).

Thus, the reason why I will mow the lawn:

It’s a Craftsman Reel Push Mower! All it takes is two legs and one arm! It’s easier to have two arms, but if you just have one arm, you can still use it. For those readers who only have one.

I love it. (And Chris thinks it’s ok, too.) It has an 18-inch cut path and three height levels, which are so easy to switch. And super light, so it can be easily carried down the stairs. For maintenance, all it takes it sharpening the blades every couple years. No oil, no gas, no spark plugs. And it makes cutting the lawn on a hill less death-defying. But still really difficult. If you ever read a newspaper story about a woman who died mowing the lawn after falling off a ledge, it was probably me.

Take today. It’s over 90 degrees, and I don’t care to know the humidity. But I mowed the lawn. Did I regret it? Absolutely. But the only pollution I added to the environment was the stench coming from my armpits.

My song of summer

3 Aug

I know this came out in 2009, but I didn’t hear it until this summer. So there. I love it. Even though I’m not a fan of their plastic dresses.