Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Would You Build?

My father-in-law has two boxes of wood in his garage that someone gave him and he's not going to use.  There are two different sizes, probably 100 pieces.  I took home one of each, and I've been contemplating, brainstorming, and just plain thinking on it.

The small block is roughly 5 x 3 x 1.5.  The larger flat piece is roughly 11 x 5.5 x .5.

I have more ideas for the bigger, flat pieces.  A bird house? 
My Repurposed Life
A sushi server?
Crate & Barrel
Maybe something like these herb boxes found in The Lettered Cottage kitchen.

Urban Farmhouse

The Lettered Cottage
 All it would take would be a little stain, a little distressing, and a stencil made from something from The Graphics Fairy.  I like this one:

What would you build?

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Premature Harvest

I couldn't wait.  It felt like forever since we planted our beets and they sprouted.  Various sources from a Google search say that it should take anywhere from 45-65 days from seed to harvest.  It hasn't been quite 65, but well over 45. 

These beets have been through a lot.  First, the turkeys walked over them as seedlings.  Only four remained, and then one day they just stopped growing.  One of the local bloggers I follow pulled a few baby beets last week, and I expected I'd at least find something similar.  One delicious beet we could slice in half and use as the centerpiece in our dinner salad.  However....

In case you can't tell just how small that is...
That's a normal-sized fork. 

Maybe the soil isn't rich enough or maybe they got too much rain and not enough sun.  Or maybe I should just wait until the tops look like the beets I've bought in the store, which would mean they need to triple in size, at least.  Three from this batch will remain in the ground until then (or winter, whichever comes first), but I've planted a bunch more and the seedlings have popped up.

This did inspire me to get some fish emulsion fertilizer to use on the vegetables that appear to be particularly stunted, like our peppers and cucumbers.  I'm using it on the tomatoes, too.  In the meantime, I will continue to buy our normal-sized vegetables from the grocery store.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Sideboard

Earlier in the week I provided a sneak peak of one of our weekend souvenirs.
This was the end of a long hunt, with a different result than I had expected. 

I have a few regular Craigslist searches (headboard, queen, antique, empire, shutters...), and for a year now I've been looking for a sideboard or buffet to go in this entry way:

What's there now is an unfinished pine cabinet I bought for my apartment 15 years ago.  I was hoping to find something with a little more character, in keeping with the style of our house, like a classic sideboard, with legs- so I could easily clean under and behind it.  I was looking for something priced low because the finish was in poor condition, but that might be a good candidate for painting.  I liked the look of these:

Lee Kleinhelter via Style Court via Urban Grace Interiors

Country Home via Urban Grace Interiors
Last Thursday night I did a search that resulted in a quite promising find that I would normally pass over because it was just over the New Hampshire border, a good hour and a half from our house.  Craigslist photos are not always what they seem, and an hour and a half is a long way to drive for a less-than-certain purchase. But, we were heading up to Vermont the next night, so I decided it might be worth a short detour off the highway.  And it was. 

We bought this from a younger couple who said they bought it at an auction on a farm a few years ago.  They didn't know much more about it.  It has dovetail joints, and it is solid. As far as I can tell there's not a bit of veneer on the piece.  There are a few dings here and there, but I think they're charming.  So charming that I don't even want to paint it.

Someone did attempt to strip the finish off the top
but it's so perfect for our needs, because now I don't have to worry about the plants damaging the finish. 

The best part is that I don't need to do any patching, sanding, priming, or painting.  Oh, and, that we got it for $75.  Not bad, right?
What do you think?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Simple Stir-fry, and Some Garden Woes

I was going to share a recipe, and some concerns about our garlic since I removed the scapes.  When I went out to the garden this morning to take a picture of the garlic, I noticed evidence of a rather large predator.

At first I was relieved that this predator (a deer?) didn't eat anything, but I just ran out to check on the pee gee hydrangea remembering that deer ate those last year, and in fact some of the buds have been chomped off.  Grrrrr.  I sprayed a few weeks ago to prevent this from happening, but it's been raining so it washes away, and I guess the deer are hungry. 

So, here's the garlic.
I thought the yellowing leaves were a sign that they were almost ready to harvest, but some of the scapes never formed, and a few in the back are curling toward the ground.

I am debating pulling one that's curling to see what's there, but I'm not sure.

And, on to happier subjects.  I did a little more experimenting with garlic scapes since we had them.  I threw them into this stir-fry one night, but I felt like the scapes got a little lost.  It's still a good, quick recipe.

Shrimp and Corn Stir-Fry
loosely based on this Epicurious recipe

2 tablespoons butter
Kernels from 2 ears corn
1/2 pound shelled large shrimp (I cheat and use the frozen, cooked ones and throw them in at the end)
1 scallion, chopped
3 garlic scapes, chopped (if you've got 'em)
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup snow peas, trimmed and chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
crushed red pepper
kosher salt
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, then sauté corn, snow peas, red pepper, garlic scapes and shrimp (if it's not cooked already), stirring, until shrimp are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a pinch or two of crushed red pepper and some kosher salt.  Stir in scallions.  Remove from heat, add basil and serve.

I preferred the scapes and pasta, where I could really taste them.   We've got one healthy scape left.  I wanted to try grilling them, which I may still do, but we'll have to share the one scape.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome, Summer

The first of our tiger lilies bloomed today, right on cue for the start of summer.

And, over a month ago I showed our early rhododendrons, mentioning that we also have late ones that run on an every other year schedule for spectacularness. 
Not quite spectacular this year.  Maybe I should feed them.  I am a terrible fertilizer, and it's about time I started.  Still, not bad for a no-food diet.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend Souvenirs

This weekend we went to a "Brew-Grass Festival" (microbrews and bluegrass) at Sugarbush on Saturday, and hiked Killington on Sunday, checking off our fourth out of the five 4,000 foot peaks in Vermont.  We spent the earlier part of the day on Saturday at the local farmer's market, where we picked up a Black Cherry tomato plant
"Tom" awaiting planting in the garden
and these slate markers for some of our herbs.

The sage isn't looking so hot...
I had a hard time choosing just three.  The artist said he creates a stencil and uses a sandblaster. I'm not sure that's a DIY project I'm ready to tackle just yet, and I know I'll probably end up getting more the next time I'm there.
The biggest souvenir of the weekend is a Craigslist find we retrieved in New Hampshire on the way up.  Here's a sneak peak:

I am so excited about this.  More coming soon.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Peony Patience

In the Fall of 2009, my in-laws informed us they had peonies that needed splitting and I eagerly responded, YES, we want them.  We cleared weeds out of an otherwise empty bed and planted 8 peony plants there.  Last Spring, the foliage came up, and a few tiny buds, but nothing that came close to flowering.  That was okay, because I had read that sometimes it takes peonies two years to establish.  Another year has passed, and our neighbors have had peonies in bloom for a few weeks now.  I checked the garden expectantly each morning, and sometimes again at night.



There were two promising buds that looked like they were ready to burst, and still I waited.  This one teased me for days.

And, finally, yesterday:

Breathtaking, aren't they?
Still, which one of these things is not like the other?

We have seven other plants with no flowers, not even any buds on them.  While I was waiting for our two beautiful flowers to do their thing,  I did some troubleshooting. 

I've learned that peonies like a minimum of 6 hours of sun.  For part of the year, ours get more than that.  But in the late summer they do spend some of the afternoon in the shade.  Still, I don't think that's our problem.  Interestingly, this source says planting your peonies in full sun means they will flower earlier than those in part shade, but that the blooms on plants in part shade will last longer. 

Peonies should be planted no more than two inches deep or they might not flower.  Hmmm.  Ours may have wound up getting a little more buried when we mulched, which is another thing you're not supposed to do.  In warmer climates there's concern that the plants will be kept too warm over the winter with mulch, but I don't think that's too big of a concern here.  We have so many weeds that I feel we have to mulch, but I'm going to try to remove a layer of soil from around the bed so there's a little less standing in the way of next year's flowers. 

Finally, this source says that peonies take THREE years to establish- first year sleep, second year creep, third year leap.  That makes me feel better.  And, once established, peonies can live for decades in one place without needing to be moved or thinned.  They have even been known to last for generations.  GENERATIONS.  I guess a little patience goes a long way.

The last thing I learned is that there is a very specific way to cut peonies if you have so many of them you want to fill vases around your house.  I'm going to let mine stay on the plant, and tuck that information away for the future. 
Have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Decorating with Rope

Recently I shared my lamp makeover, which featured a rope-covered shade.  If you can ignore the fact that the lamp doesn't work (we're still taking care of that problem), you'll probably agree that it has a more current look than it did previously, thanks to the oil-rubbed bronze, and the rope.  

I've been seeing rope everywhere I turn.
Rope Chandelier, Bronze finish
Pottery Barn Rope Chandelier

Hyannis Rope Mirror
Ballard Designs Hyannis Rope Mirror

Dakota Rope Drapery Tiebacks
Restoration Hardware Drapery Tieback

David Stark Rope Bowl
West Elm Rope Bowl
Coiled Rope Knob
Anthropologie Coiled Rope Knob
And, I've seen many a blogger's creative DIY project using rope.

I was completely inspired yesterday when I saw this sisal rope table from Sparkle Pants Girl via Apartment Therapy.

At Under the Table and Dreaming, Stephanie walks through how she made a sisal rope basket.

How about Mrs. Lemons' rope vase?
mrs lemons - DIY sisal rope tutorial

Martha Stewart has a tutorial on how to make a rope lamp.
Martha Stewart
And, Nate Berkus has a tutorial on how to make a rope mirror.
The Nate Berkus Show
It seems all you need is rope, glue and some imagination, and the possibilities are endless.  I feel myself on the verge of another rope project.  Or two, or three. Is it possible to overdo it?  Probably.  Is it trendy? Or timeless?  I mean, rope has been around forever, and isn't going anywhere, right?  Either way, I like the rustic, textured, natural look of it, and I can't help but look at everything now and imagine it covered in rope.