Thursday, August 29, 2013

2013: Summer of Renovation Projects- The Edible Garden and Stained Glass Progress

Upright  rosemary hides the base of the new plumeria, visually anchoring the corner

I've always been a sucker for handsome fella's with baby blue eyes. So you know I fell for Coda from the moment he first stared over the fence. Every move , the whole summer, the Husky watched over me. 

Hardscape materials were coordinated based on charm factor- texture, tonality and durability
Coda watched the split-level space which the wild had reclaimed from a formal vegetable area. The space was cut back slightly, leveled and tamed. The sprinkler lines needed to be re-routed before I tested my muscle against the largest blocks within the allen +roth Luxura Country Manor garden block collection from Lowe's. Weighing in at 57 lbs apiece- this project proved I am in darn good shape for a woman of any age or profession. 

The walkway was leftover pavers from a long-ago driveway project. Each block was lifted, cleaned and re-leveled on landscaping cloth over compacted sand. 

The manufactured cobbles were picked up at Armstrong's in La Habra.  Coming in square foot sheets, these are a blessing of easy installation.

The overhead trellis and outline of planting pockets are the last projects before the edible garden is christened.

Instead of construction gravel- whose size would have been difficult to manage into the cracks between the walkway, color-coordinated aquarium gravel from Petsmart was  swept into all the joints of the hardscape. 

Gerry refurbished an old garden bench. I helped with the easy part- scrubbing and painting the ironwork. He didn't cut down an oak tree to make the planks. But pretty close. 

Why go to all this trouble? Each of these benches first lived with our respective sets of parents. You can't buy that sort of memories. 

He hand selected red oak from the lumber forest at Reel Lumber in Anaheim. Split and planed the planks. Routed and sanded. Custom blended a stain and then sealed under coats of spar varnish.  The marine-grade fittings were hunted down at the Home Depot

Bench in forlorn state of disrepair
 If that doesn't sound impressive- this second bench - currently almost ready to put back into service - this is pretty much the condition of the one now holding court in the almost finished edible garden. 

Jim Shore rooster guards one entry point to the garden against intruders of the critter kind
Along the way, there were  unanticipated challenges. Newly built steps to construct the garden proved not just convenient for people. They provide a bunny breezeway to where my granddaughter's favorite new food- carrots- will be grown.  The solution was found by building nests of succulents topped off with Jim Shore garden ornaments.  

Jim Shore chicken ornament blocks bunny-traffic
 As a new grandmother, I am naturally drawn to dropping more whimsy into the garden. 

My granddaughter may not even be able to walk when she will learn what fun it is to pull bright vegetables fresh from tilled earth.  That is as it should be.

Coda went back to college with his human partner this week. If we are fortunate- the edible garden area will be operational when they return for the holidays. 

In the mean time, the insert for the new dutch door is coming close to being ready for installation.  This glass-work of mine and woodworking expertise of my husband is proving a good partnership. 

Window detail 

Solar lit- "Ethel's Garden"- a tribute to my late mother is installed in my shed.

Until we meet again- Thank YOU for all you do to make the world more beautiful. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Recap Part 1 - Churning Butter

Summer will end as all summers do. Too soon.  Before it is gone in the haste of living, take time to remember what made this one special for you. 

Breville  Sous Chef TM food processor 
Am I the only girl who uses her husband as an excuse to shop? 

Summer began with a  morning date demonstration on grilling at Sur la Table. 
Nothing dangerous. Except we packed credit cards. 

Background. My husband's first love was butter. It was his first instruction to me as a new bride- ONLY real butter is served in our home. 

A surprise addition to the lesson plan at the demonstration was how to make our own butter at home. All you need is cream- and this 1200 watt wonder-machine.

I would never have brought back this handsome Australian machine  if I hadn't had my husband to blame the extravagance on. The chef showed my love how the powerful Breville  Sous Chef TM food processor  can pulsate cream into silky butter in 2 1/2 minutes. 

You can hear it when the butter is ready to scoop from the machine. It makes this little thunk-ity thunk noise. As the solids magically spin lightly yellow-  the most luscious buttermilk separates from it. 

Now his wife not only writes delicious copy;  she churns world class butter.  

Tip:  If you have a Smart and Final  store nearby- while any heavy cream will do - they carry Alta Dena Manufacturing Cream- which is worth seeking out. 

As is a good gym membership. Any day I'm not lifting plants in the garden, I am on the treadmill or lifting weights at Fitness Advantage in Diamond Bar. 

Top image from Sur la Table website.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Savoring Sunday ~ Nature Break

A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the most joyous day of the week.” 

~ Henry Ward Beecher

Is it just me, or does food taste better on Sundays?  Our Lord on High certainly knew what he was doing when he prescribed one day a week to take a break... to have definable negative space between the busyness of everyday.  

This morning all the calories landed on the brunch plate. Cozying up to fingers of sausage were fresh cinnamon waffles slathered with cream cheese whipped light with cream  flavored up with sugar and real vanilla- topped with macerated strawberries and blueberries glazed with a drizzle of real maple syrup.  

On  the side, a creamy quiche filled with layers of cheese and Anaheim peppers  planned over from last night's light supper left us dreamy and full.

Overall, it's been a cool summer. Well into August already,  today the thermometer barely tripped into the mid- 80's.  It's kind of fun watching BBC  and hearing our temperature translated into Celsius- just a bit over 30 degrees):-  

The monarch butterflies are just now regularly sailing silently through the backyard. It doesn't matter what is on TV when this is the view from the patio.

It has been a superlative week communicating with colleagues, friends and family at home in the different latitudes of this great nation.  

North Dakota frog image by Trevor Plunk
 Trevor, our oldest son  works in oil and gas in flyover country.  He lives in one state, works in others. We joke that he is our Bedouin son- he owns what he can carry with him from field to field- including the camera he recently put a macro lens on. 

Image by Trevor Plunk
Trevor has always felt a kinship with all of God's creatures.  

It is not the prevailing thought of the popular culture, but it is my experience that many of the great conservationists are those who extract the earth's bounty for our daily use. 

Image by Trevor Plunk

Frogs and grasshoppers-  our son captured the miracle within ordinary inhabitants of the countryside.  

Tonight I'll say a prayer, asking God to watch over our family. I will thank Him for the crickets who serenade us all to sleep- those near - and those very far. 

 Until we meet again, Thank you for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful!