Entries in hall house - yard & garden (13)


dear internet: i've missed you

Sweet holy Batman, we have internet again!

We've been without internet since an outage on Wednesday morning that subsequently scrambled our modem and wireless router. Wednesday was bad news bears from start to finish, really -- internet down on a work-from-home day, news that the neighbor's insurance company was quibbling about paying for the damage to our yard from the neighbor's fence*, our first mortgage payment since the refinance not getting paid electronically as scheduled (and thus late), and bumping up against the data limit on our phones due to the lingering effects of being without computers for weeks on end. And to top it all of, I was fighting off some kind of bug thing, secretly worried that it was the flu.

*(Not the neighbor's fault. She argued on our behalf, and wants to make things right; it's not her fault her insurance is being a shithead.)

Wednesday was primarily lost to dealing with Comcast's phone tree hell and "technical support". For future reference, trying to get your internet up and running while simultaneously juggling your job duties, all while using only your smart phone AND checking your data usage every 20 minutes to verify that you haven't gone over your alloted amount? Shortcut to a panic attack.

The bug got the best of me yesterday, after a night of not-good sleep, and resulted in yet more lost time for some really pressing work stuff, not to mention cancelling my evening plans. And still no internet, but I didn't have the energy for eating, let alone for arguing with the internet provider about IP addresses and modem serial numbers. Never mind poor Sal, who had spent his entire morning on the phone trying to get it fixed while also trying to get all of his final grading done for the last day of class for this term.

But, as I said, hallelujah, we have internet again. It took three more hours of phone calls this morning with five different technicians at two different companies, along with some petty extortion – excuse me, “short term warranty fee” – from the last company in order to get them to fix the router remotely. I guess I should be glad it didn't involve a ritual sacrifice or something. Of course, our neighbor’s back fence is still laying across the back bed of our yard, her insurance company is now adamant that they don’t have to pay for the damage to our side, and that flu/cold bug is digging in deep just in time for the 3 day weekend Sal and I had planned.

But by god, at least we have internet.


really, universe? srsly

This is your one and only notice, 2014.


Heart o' Gold

Sal cut this pretty bouquet for me from one of our rose bushes. This variety is called "Heart o' Gold", with enormous blooms and a divine scent.

we are human beings, not human doings

contemplations on life, the universe, and everything, from under the apple tree on a perfect summer eveningAutumn is my season, but I seem to develop amnesia about summer. I enjoy summer, too, but I tend to remember the hot days and sweaty nights more than I do the heartachingly gorgeous days of just-the-right temperature, maybe a lilt of breeze to make the windchimes sing a little, a bit of smoke from the coals in the grill, and a whole day to just be. Perhaps I forget so I can have the joy of rediscovery every year, a gift to myself that reminds me about blessing and peace and abundance. A reminder about my cup, so full.

Our long vacation endI come home from the beach each time with rocks and shells stashed in pockets. I tuck them around the yard in little collections like this, under fern fronds and other secret green places to remind me of the ocean. Sal calls them Bitty Vignettes.ed with the holiday last week, but I've been determined to carry over a piece of it into my every day. Trying to leave the office earlier than I have been lately, spending time on the patio and the front porch and the back porch, reading for a bit during the daylight instead of only at bedtime. Setting aside some daily burdens for another day, trimming that to-do list to the essentials, and then trimming some more.

We've been spending our weekend days in a similar routine: breakfast on the back porch, our weekend NPR shows in the background, cats demanding scritches behind the ears and good morning wake-up snuggles. Then to the patio at some point for most of the day, and to the front porch sometime after dinner to enjoy the last sunlight turning the bridge gold, and to the back porch when the bugs finally drive us to the protection of screens. We read, we sketch, we write, we grill, we talk, we putter in the yard, we sit idly by. Such a luxury in lives that are harried and hurried, too much of both. It's good, all this just being time.

I always think of summer as the season of going and doing, and I love going and doing. But there are also the lazy days, the sit-back-and-enjoy days, the I-think-I'll-take-a-nap-in-the-shade days. I needed the reminder.

lunch, Lunchbot Duo:

  • Thai peanut chicken (grilled on skewers)
  • fried rice
  • carrot sticks
  • sesame green beans
  • cherries

celebration and mourning

Mother Nature seems to be making up for the lack of spring and summer by making every day of August so heartachingly beautiful that you feel like your heart might burst from its perfection. Every day for the last two weeks has been comfortably warm but not hot, still and fragrant and clear blue sky, and if the extended forecasts are to be believed, we're set to continue like this for the next two weeks or more.

August is also the time for two important birthdays: Sister's and the Fabulous Miss M's. They're not actually until tomorrow and Wednesday, respectively, but Saturday was the celebration for Miss M's, so that was the centerpiece of our weekend.

One of the perks of having a chef for a godfather is that you get beautiful and delicious cakes for your birthday. One of the (many, many) perks of having Sal for a godfather is that he will make your beautiful and delicious cake extra beautiful and extra delicious, even when you are turning four years old and your only requirements are that it be pink and girly.

His original plan involved fairies and flowers and lots of pink and purple, since those are Miss M's current favorite things. But reality collided with good intentions, and a fourteen hour day necessitated a quick reworking of those plans. He arrived home from work Friday night with enough layers for two round cakes (vanilla flavored "with a kiss of cocoa), a ginormous bowl of chocolate Italian buttercream, a smaller container of plain Italian butter cream, and a blob of handmade molding chocolate. The chocolate was for the roses and leaves he was determined to sculpt, but he wasn't sure what to do for the rest. I suggested tinting the plain icing pink, and doing it up in pink and chocolate brown for a more sophisticated take on girly.

It takes a surprising amount of skill to make a cake look clean and deceptively simple. It takes a significant amount of skill to do so without disguising your mistakes with a heavy slathering of icing to even things out.  I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader as to the level of Sal's skill. Except to also point out that the chocolate roses and leaves were sculpted by hand, and the wording was done with straight tempered* chocolate. Oh, and to note, yet again, that Sal normally has the handwriting of a serial killer, but put a pastry bag in his hand and suddenly he's got the penmanship of an 19th century Victorian aristocrat.

The cake was well received by the birthday girl, who asked to view the cake repeatedly while it was still in the box, well before it was actually brought out and served. The pink feather boa from Aunt Bitty was also a big hit, particularly since Miss M and her young guests spent the better part of the party playing dress up in their finest princess couture. (The biggest fashion hit of the day, however, belonged to one her friends, who put together a pink dress with a set of swim goggles, a dozen bracelets, orange flip flops, and a beaded Mardi Gras necklace that featured miniature plastic beer mugs. Wish I'd gotten a picture of that one.)

Since we'd spent our Saturday partying, it was time to be grownups yesterday and do some straightening and other such chores around the house. Sal tackled the apple tree in the backyard, which we finally conceded this spring would have to come down. We've known for a few years that it was inevitable, but this year, when the roots on the upper slope had actually come loose from the soil, we knew it was time.

Still, we hate that it has to go. It provides such a lovely green canopy over our patio, and is perfect for stringing lights through for our famous backyard parties. Not to mention the thick privacy screen from the attic window, so that when you're up there in the summer and you look out the window to see nothing but heavy green foliage and bright green apples, it feels like you're up in a tree house.

It's the also the last of the apple trees that were originally planted on our lot and the one next to it. The people who built our house, you see, had an apple orchard. Yes, that story from the Cathedral Park Chronicles is based on real history. When we moved into the house, the orchard next door was long since gone, replaced by the apartment building that's there now, but there were five apple trees in the back yard that remained from that orchard. We had to cut down four of them because they were diseased and in danger of falling on the house or the neighbor's. It killed us to do it, but we saved the healthiest one, and hoped we'd have it for years to come, even if it was too late to give it the care it needed to make the apples edible.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. And although we were fortunate enough to enjoy it for nine years, and we'll keep parts of the trunk to use in the yard the same way we did with the cherry tree that had to come down, it was hard to watch it come down bit by bit yesterday. We'll have to have an arborist to come in to finish the work, but I'll schedule it for a day when I'm not at home, so I don't have to watch.

Instead, I'll be at the nursery, looking for a new tree to plant. Not to take its place, but to honor its memory.

lunch, pink Natural Lunch:

  • Parmesan breaded chicken
  • rosemary roasted potatoes
  • carrots
  • peas
  • cherries

let the wild rumpus begin

Success! Our yard, which now looks approximately like the wild jungles of Borneo, is about to be beaten into submission. We'll have to pay someone to do it, but we found someone who was willing to take their lives in their hands and attempt to restore it to its benign Pacific Northwest unruliness. Of course, there's the very real possibility they'll go inside and be eaten by wild things with lots of teeth, but better them than us.

And speaking of Pacific Northwest unruliness (oh, I kill me with these segues)...Saturday night was the Naked Bike Ride (link is SO not safe for work, but this one is). Ostensibly, it's a protest against fossil fuels, or a way to highlight the vulnerability of riders on the road, depending on whom you talk to, but it's mainly an excuse for people ride around the city letting it all hang out. Which is always hilarious if you happen to be out and about and suddenly a bunch of naked people on bicycles streak past (that's happened to us a few times). Guaranteed to make you smile and giggle and be glad for a bit of gentle absurdity. But this year was notable because Sal decided to join in. And had a blast, so I suspect this will be an annual activity at Hall House. Don't worry, there won't be pictures.

I can't boast anything quite so daring for my weekend. Did some writing, some art, made phone calls, avoided work stuff. I also made the mistake yesterday of not bringing lunch in with me. Well, the mistake was Sunday night when I didn't make one to bring, for no real good reason at all, and then yesterday...well, yesterday was the kind of day that makes a person glad they don't happen very often. It was merely coincidence that it also happened to be a Monday, but it certainly didn't help Monday's reputation for sucking.

Anyway. Today has to be better because I have both lunch AND breakfast, my replacement debit card finally arrived (srsly, what a PITA), and our summer vacation (mine and Sal's) commences Friday. Eleven whole entire days of not being at work. Such luxury! And with the yard finally restored to order, we don't even have to go anywhere for it to be awesome.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • molded egg
  • cantaloupe
  • red grapes

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • taco filling -- seasoned ground beef and rice, shredded colby, and a bit of sour cream in the little condiment cup
  • flour tortilla and red leaf lettuce for the taco
  • carrots and red grapes
  • cantaloupe
  • dark chocolate covered raisins and candied almonds (courtesy of Chef Sal)

in these crystal spring mornings, we will fly like birds

This is the view from our kitchen door and back porch to the back patio and yard. I took it late in the morning yesterday, just after one of several heavy rains that happened throughout the day, each followed by a bright burst of sun, although it was so chilly out there I expected to see my breath while I was snapping these pics.

I've mentioned peripherally that spring this year has been totally crazycakes. And by that I mean, totally non-existent. We've had weeks -- nay, months -- of endless rain, rain to an extent that's unusual even for here. But more than that, constant cold and unrelenting gray. Day after day, for weeks and weeks at a go, with only a handful of days where the sun has even appeared, let alone been out long enough to dry things out or warm things up. Maybe not even a handful.

Now, I am completely content in this weather. I love me some spring, and I've missed not having a real spring like I've gotten used to here, but the days and days of rain haven't bothered me. But even I have noticed the just how relentless it's been, how my fellow PNWers, native or otherwise, have slowly gone bugshit as we rolled through April and now into May with it still feeling and looking like February.

More to the point, I can't help but notice how Nature herself has been in a state of suspended animation, waiting for the sun and the warmth to signal it was time to get in gear. In fact, most everything seems to be about two months behind: the lilacs have just started to bud in the last week or so, tulips are only now finishing up, and the azaleas in our rockery still haven't opened up. That is cah-razy, you guys. These are flowers that normally start blooming in March. Mid-April at the latest.

And like all the flowers and trees that seemed to explode at once at the first sign of sun and warmth, everyone seems to burst out onto the streets in manic fits of activity, as if to cram an entire season's worth of spring into a single day. All Summer In a Day, life imitating art.


lunch, french bistro:

  • Niman Ranch ham, cream cheese, and asparagus spears in a sundried tomato wrap
  • snap peas
  • golden delicious apple slices
  • murcott tangerine sections


apparently, not low maintenance enough

I worked on a presentation I have to do Monday basically all day yesterday, and I do mean all day. As in, from the time I got up to the time I went to bed, with a few breaks sprinkled throughout for an errand, zoning out with Tumblr for a bit, a few games of the new Angry Birds, and some kitty cuddling. BUT! I am also triumphant, because despite the long-ass work day, I still managed to A) make a decent dinner and B) pack a delicious little lunch as a result. Behold, for I am multi-talented.

Also, one of the pieces I wrote for this week's Prompt has prompted me (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) to look for a local landscaping company to come in and get the yard whipped into shape. Because the spring that's been delayed by, like, three months thanks to the 77 straight weeks of cold, wet weather appears to be exploding into existence in the space of approximately 6.432 days. Which means that the winterizing work we didn't do on the yard last fall has now come back to haunt us liek whoa, and I simply cannot take it any more. Looking out my windows to my wonderful yard should not cripple me with guilt. So perhaps if we splurge on a one-time infusion of professional help, we'll magically be converted to grown-ups once again and resume caring for our low-maintenance yard on a more regular basis. THIS IS A FOOLPROOF PLAN I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE.

lunch, black strawberry:

  • chicken teriyaki meatball
  • rapini and caramelized onions sauteed with just a smidge of stir fry sauce
  • short grain brown rice
  • blood orange halves and kiwi slices
  • dark chocolate covered raisins

i cleaned all the things!

courtesy of the always spectacularly hilarious Hyperbole and a Half, taken from the all-time best post ever (except possibly The God of Cake) and you absolutely must click to read or an asteroid will hit the earthWhat a jam-packed and productive weekend!

Friday, I worked a half day and then spent the afternoon poking around downtown, splurging on a few art supplies for me and Sal and then playing with my supplies when I got home for the rest of the evening. Saturday, we got our New Seasons delivery of all our groceries for our part of the Thanksgiving menu (more about this later in the post), which means yet another year where we do not have to brave the scary grocery store crowds for the last can of Who Hash. So because we didn't have to play Killer Shopping Cart Grand Prix, we instead did some straightening and made a great dinner in honor of our dear friend Kurt who was visiting from out of town.

Kurt is the bestest. He shares my geeky love for intricately programmed Excel spreadsheets and has the best joke delivery of anyone I know, except possibly Sal. He and his wife, Sylvia, are from South Africa so he has the most wonderful accent, and he says delightful things like "Cheers!" instead of "goodbye" and "Howzit!" instead of "hello", which is my favoritest Kurt-expression ever.

Sal (who was taking the picture one-handed with my cameraphone, which is tricky as hell), Kurt, and meKurt and Sylvia share our love for pretty much the greatest TV shows in existence, and Kurt will gladly fan-squee with me over whatever show they're currently watching. And he and Sylvia's stories about their kids are not to be missed. Oh, every parent tells their funny kid stories, and some of them are funny (and some, I'm sure we can agree, are only funny to the parents). But Kurt and Sylvia's kid stories are the stuff of stand-up comedy.

So over another excellent meal courtesy of Chef Salvatore of dry-rubbed pork chops, roasted parsnips pureed with leeks and fresh parsley, and creamed brussel sprouts*, and later, a dessert of tart tatin, we talked non-stop for hours and laughed enough to come close to someone snorting a liquid through their nose at several points. We talked about the awesomeness of Portland, and the good things that Texas has, after all (that's where they live now), despite not being Oregon, and politics and the housing crisis and Arrested Development and the merits of Buffy vs. Angel. Goodbye came too soon, of course, but we were glad to get to see him for a bit.

(Kurt, upon hearing we were having brussel sprouts, proclaimed he would try them but admitted that he'd always hated them since he was a kid. I'll note for the record, as proof to Sylvia since she was on the phone with him when we said that there'd be brussel sprouts, that Kurt did indeed have seconds on them.)

Yesterday, with the prospect of the lowest temps of the year and the forecast of snow, we were finally motivated enough to get outside and do some kind of nominal winterizing. We have seriously been the most procrastinatory (NEW WORD AHOY!) slugs ever for the last few months, blithely ignoring the lovely fall weekends we could've been working outside and not freezing our fingers off, opting instead to go to apple festivals and walks in the park and concerts in the middle of the city square. So waiting until the last possible minute, when it was colder than hell outside and starting to rain, was probably our due punishment for being so lazy.

We didn't get the veggie garden cleared out (I KNOW), nor the leaves raked and put into the raised beds (I KNOW OKAY), and the zebra grasses still need to be chopped back (YES I GET IT WE SUCK AT PLANT CARE) but! We did get all of the various decorations brought in, the twinkle lights in the trees taken down, the potted plants that are still blooming sheltered on the back porch, the porch swing and rocker removed to the basement, and all the stuff that gets stored on the back porch packed away in the steel bins or covered with plastic sheeting as appropriate. We also got the three potted trees on the patio and the two potted shrubs on the front porch covered for the next few days of below freezing temps, so we're feeling pretty proud of ourselves for being actually on top of things for once. Sort of.

I carried that sense of accomplishment inside with me and folded and put away the four (!) overflowing baskets of laundry while Sal ran more loads (I refrained from pointing out that Sisyphus and I have something in common, lest I seem to be an ungrateful wretch). And then! We made a full pan of enchiladas to freeze for Wednesday night's dinner, when the Hall-Smiley Family Thanksgiving Extravaganza officially commences.

For those just joining our program, the H-SFTE is an annual family celebration of food, slothfulness, and inappropriate humor, in which obscene quantities of good food are cooked and consumed continuously, games are played, Wii records are shattered, laughter is heard, dishes are washed, and new shows are marathoned. In pajamas. It is the very best holiday ever invented.

Sister, Guy, and the Fabulous Miss M arrive on Wednesday night (hence the enchiladas, which can be thrown into the oven for a quick and yummy dinner), Miss M is put to bed in the princess bed (aka my old canopy bed*), and pies and casseroles are baked while we wait for Sally to get home from a long day. Beer is consumed by Guy and Sally and we all stay up way too late, the aero bed is put up in the living room, and we all finally go to bed at some ridiculously late hour.

*(this will become her bed later this year, but it will be the last time she sleeps in it at our house...awww)

On Thanksgiving Day, we have a simple breakfast and get started cooking, but there's none of that putting-the-turkey-in-at-5-AM nonsense. No ma'am, we sleep in and get cooking when we damn well feel like it, as god and nature intended. Other dishes are prepared while we nosh on bread and cheese plates and then crudites, all while playing with Miss M and watching movies. And usually, there's a walk in the park somewhere in there. A literal walk in the park. Hee.

We eat late, depending on Miss M's schedule and whatever's easiest. We laugh and we play and then her bedtime comes and we either eat after that if we haven't already, or we eat again if we're hungry (we usually are). And then comes the marathon of whatever new show we're introducing them to (Friday Night Lights this year). When Sister starts to get a little droopy, we liven things up with a Wii tournament (Wii Sports, Wii Resort, and Raving Rabids are the family favorites) and end up eating and drinking even more, and then at some point we realize that Miss M will be up in a few hours and we all finally say good night.

Friday is the late morning brunch of some wonderful elaborate family breakfast usually involving pancakes or waffles, and dishes are done, and leftovers are packed up, and at some point in the early afternoon, goodbyes are said. And thus, another fabulous H-SFTE comes to a close.

(I'd normally stick a pic of today's bento here, and I actually did have it all written up last night after I packed it, but ended up coming home early to get a jump on the inevitable traffic snarl that happens when snow starts to fall. Since I knew I was going to come home before lunch when I left this morning, I ended up not bringing my bento with me. I could've eaten it here, but opted instead for leftover enchiladas so I guess I'll eat it tomorrow.)


it takes a village

Today was our neighborhood block party. There was lots of food and a bouncy house for the kids, and a makeshift stage for neighborhood musicians, chalk for the kids to draw to their hearts' content and a plant exchange and a map for us to mark neighborhood assets for trade and barter, or neighborhood activities: "Mike and Michelle -- garden with veggies for trade, flowers to share", "Ivy and C -- chicken coop, eggs to barter, cob structure sauna", "Mona -- textiles, music", "Paul and Pete -- carpentry and woodworking, foreign language lessons". Like that.

click to see more picturesBut the main event was the "intersection repair": painting the intersection down the street with a big compass rose design created by a collaboration of neighbors. There were buckets of recycled paint in nine colors and a chalked out design on the street. Everyone brought a brush and spent this gloriously beautiful day painting the hell out of the intersection. Mother Nature herself was completely on board, because she called a temporary stop to the weeks of rain that've put a damper on even the hardiest Pacific Northwesterner's spirits and even intermittently shut down the annual Rose Festival. Until late afternoon yesterday, no one was sure if this long-planned street painting project was going to happen.

But happen it did. With kids running about and a band rocking out in the background. And the end result? Pretty damn awesome.

We stuck around for a bit, but decided to skip out on the evening BBQ even though we'd spent the earlier part of the day making potato salad and cookies for the occasion. We love our neighborhood to itty bitty bohemian pieces, but it was a lot of people, and we already don't get a lot of time together as it is. Plus, with the first nice weather we've had in weeks, our little backyard sanctuary was calling to us.

We were sitting there watching the goings on after the painting was finished, just soaking up the moment and the lovely weather, and Sally said, "Sooo...do you still want to stick around for the potluck?" I grinned. "Do you?" "Not really." I had to hug him at that moment, because that's what you do when someone reads your mind and understands everything without you having to say anything. "Me neither."

So Sally threw a few skewers on the grill and I drizzled some fresh asparagus with a bit of oil and sea salt and pepper, then set the little table on our back porch. While we waited for the coals to get going, we did some trimming of the roses in the back corner and walked around the yard and marveled at how much it's changed in the 8 years we've been here.

Then we kicked back on the porch and talked while we took our time enjoying our dinner -- spicy marinated pork and Thai peanut chicken skewers, my famous dill and vinegar potato salad, and grilled asparagus -- the new star-shaped curtain lights for lighting and the local jazz station on low volume for atmosphere.

Not a bad day. Not a bad day at all.


i vote for three day weekends every week

How was everyone's weekend? Did you get to do something fun and relaxing?

Ours was nice -- a good combination of fun, productive, and relaxing. We spent Saturday and Sunday in the yard working on our To Do List to get it ready to enjoy for the summer. We didn't get everything on our list done, but we accomplished a lot:

  • weeded the back bed and cleared out of the last of the spring bulb plants that have died back, which were beginning to choke out some of the other stuff trying to poke up through all that decaying vegetation; we've gotten so much rain that everything was slimy and squishy...yuck!
  • Sal trimmed the apple tree, including a lot of trimming and shaping of the under-canopy
  • raked the patio and the areas under the apple and Japanese maple trees
  • Sal trimmed the rosebushes in the front; I trimmed and re-directed the canes of the climbing rose in the back -- we're going to need at least one more trellis on the back fence this year because that bad boy is going completely bananas
  • Sal trimmed the lilacs, part of a 3 year plan to get them whipped into shape after several years of not tending to them like we should've
  • back porch cleaned, swept, and mopped, including the screens all the way around and everything set up so we can now sit out there and walk around in our bare feet without turning the bottoms of our feet black
  • yard decorations (wind chimes, lanterns, etc.) unpacked and set out
  • install my new star-shaped curtain lights from IKEA (that I bought six months ago and completely forgot about until I unpacked the yard stuff)

And all of that despite the gray days and wet weather. Actually, it was pretty great working-in-the-yard weather Saturday and Sunday -- not too hot or cold, didn't really rain, and it was gray (not just overcast) so we didn't have to worry about sunscreen, with some nice sunbreaks here and there. However, despite wearing two thin, long-sleeved shirts, pants, gardening gloves, and work boots, I still managed to get bitten all to hell by mosquitoes. I have about a dozen quarter-sized welts on my legs that are going to drive me mad for days.

Left to do:

  • plant the salvia that mom gave Sal for his birthday
  • plant my annuals that we started when we did our veggie starts
  • put up the twinkle lights in the trees
  • weed the sidewalk strips
  • replace a few of the plants we lost over the winter from last year's landscape-o-rama (namely, the jasmine and one of the clematis)
  • get two more metal bins from IKEA to store a few things on the back porch
  • oil the front porch swing and rocker

There are other things we want to do, of course, but once we've taken care of those items, we'll be able to call it good for enjoying the yard whenever we want this summer

But working in the yard wasn't all we got accomplished this weekend. We relaxed in the evenings watching movies and cuddling under blankets with the kitties on the couch. And yesterday was reserved for non-work or chore items: Sally brewed another batch of beer (his third batch this month!) and I spent the day writing. Also a productive day: he got his batch put up AND the last batch bottled, and I reached a milestone of my own.


happy birthday, sally!

I'm excited about the prospect of all the produce we'll be getting this summer, what with our regular bin delivery, our vegetable garden, and the CSA we signed up for this year. May have to scale back our bin delivery until the garden and CSA peter out in the fall, as it's entirely possible we'll be overrun with fruit and veggies, but that's a good problem to have, no? Still a few weeks yet until we'll see anything from the CSA, though, and it'll be a couple of months before the garden gets going, so no need to panic just yet.

But it does mean that every other Monday, my bentos tend to be a little forlorn as they await the arrival of the next delivery. While we had the grill going last night, I had Sally throw on a couple of chicken basil sausages to use in lunches this week.

Breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • oatmeal, with Braeburn apple chunks underneath
  • butter, brown sugar, and raisins in the mini-sidecar to mix in

Lunch, black strawberry box:

  • chicken basil sausage
  • julienne cucumber and carrot strips from the weekend's sushi party (see below)
  • grilled potato with butter, sour cream, and green onion, leftover from last night's dinner
  • Braeburn apple slices
  • yogurt and dark chocolate covered raisins
  • garlic dill cheese curds

Is there anything better than a gorgeous weekend in the Pacific Northwest? NO NO THERE IS NOT.

All weekend we had temps in the mid/high 70s, blue or mildly cloudy skies, and not a breath of wind. Our roses exploded all over the place in the last few days, and combined with the rhododendrons and azaleas and irises, I'm so in love with our house and our neighborhood I could burst. Next weekend we'll be doing some yard work -- weeding the back bed so the plants my mom put in don't get clogged into oblivion, trimming back the lilacs, pruning the apple tree, planting a few new and replacement things, and putting up the twinkle lights in the trees -- but the yard is in good enough shape already that when Sister, Guy, and the Fabulous Miss M came for the weekend, all that was needed was to set the patio chairs out for us to while away some time soaking up the gorgeous, gorgeous weather.

They came for Sal's birthday -- which is actually today; Happy Birthday, Sally!! -- and we had a nice, easy-going time with family to celebrate. Did a bit of running around Saturday-- to Portland Nursery to pick up the gift certificate and two black and blue salvia my mom had reserved for his gift -- then to Steinbart's so the boys could get all atwitter over brewing supplies. We stopped for lunch at Grilled Cheese Grill, which Guy hadn't yet been to, and though we had to wait in line thanks to the street fair going on down the block, we managed to have a yummy lunch all around. Back home to put Miss M down for her nap, and we passed the time at our wonderful table under the apple tree, which is all you really need in life, frankly.

After a run to New Seasons for supplies, and back home for a snacky interlude of bread and cheese while Miss M ate her dinner, she was off to the pre-bedtime ritual of jammies, storytime, and a goodnight song. Meanwhile, we got things ready for Sal's requested birthday activity: a sushi-rolling party! Great, great fun and lots of laughs while hoovering up plates of sushi in every combination we could think of. When the last of the sushi rice was rolled up, we retired to the living room to finish off our plates and watch Louis C.K.'s most recent stand-up show and finished off the evening with four mini-cakes, complete with candles and a rendition of "Happy Birthday".

The next morning, Guy treated the chef (and the rest of us) to a fabulous breakfast -- yeasted waffles with lemon-poppyseed creme -- and then it was time for them to head home. Afterward, I retired to the nook for a bit to edit while Sally read some of his brewing books out on the front porch. We moved to the patio, where I did so more editing, though mostly I just kind of sat there in contented silence, trying to absorb just how absolutely perfect the day was. We grilled for dinner -- steaks and potatoes, with some steamed broccoli and green onions from our bin. And though I had website work to do, I did absolutely none of it, opting instead to watch a movie and fold clothes (I am determined to stay on top of the laundry, dammit!), get to bed relatively early, read for a bit, and get a good night's rest. Website work will be there tomorrow, and anyway, I knew it was supposed to rain today. How's that for procrastination?


spring is in the air...

Busy weekend. I got no writing done this weekend, unfortunately (and synopsis still isn't done...) but I/we did get other things done. Did some housecleaning -- well, straightening, really...we're so far behind that we have to clean before we can clean! -- and the house looks marginally less like a sty than it did. The weather was just beautiful and we were able to open up all the windows throughout the house to really give it a good airing. Still have mountains of laundry to fold and put away and the floors all need to be swept and vacuumed (and if I were really going to do things right, I'd dust, but HAHAHAHAHAHA); perhaps I can tackle those this week. Oh, and I had to get all my monthly reports to my website clients and then everything invoiced, but that's all done at last.

Also got the soil in the garden beds worked and the compost from our compost bin amended into the soil, so they'll be ready for the starts we started earlier this spring. The starts trays are all out there now to acclimate to being outside and then we can go ahead and plant. Can't wait to get that garden going!

And because it was so nice out, we grilled! Well, Sal grilled, so today's lunch comes courtesy of last night's yummy leftovers.

pink strawberry sidecar (for breakfast):

  • a-little-less-than-half an English muffin with strawberry preserves
  • honey & nuts granola
  • Greek yogurt with a dollop of strawberry preserves in the mini sidecar

black strawberry box:

  • grilled chicken skewers marinated in a Thai peanut sauce
  • jasmine rice (made in a beef broth, which is why it's brown)
  • steamed broccoli
  • fresh mango slices
  • dark chocolate covered raisins
  • dried cherries as gap fillers