This Old House – Garden Edition

When we moved into this house, one of the things that we were most excited for was being able to have our own little urban farm. With many hours out in the yard, seven cubic yards of soil, two cubic yards of compost, and a new fence… one of our major yard renovations has been completed. Of course, this fails to account for the many hours of weeding, planting, and pruning, that have also taken place. As of this moment, we have two lemon trees (1 Meyer / 1 regular), two plum trees, two grape vines, one orange tree, one teenage pomegranate tree, and 1 baby espalier apple tree which has 6 apple varieties. I really want to throw a peach and pear tree into the mix, but I know realistically I definitely do not have that sort of space (Do I? hrmmmmm….)

Before:

It’s a bit funny, it is not until really looking at these photos that I realize how much work we have actually done. We aren’t completely done yet, but most of the work left is minor.
As you can see, we had a ton of weeding to do. We removed all of the chicken wire and gates and added fresh compost to the boxes. Simple right?

This was by far the bigger project. Due to the fairly dramatic grade in the soil, Matt and I had to level the area with a butt-ton of soil and create a temporary retaining wall. Of course, this couldn’t be done without first moving the coop temporarily and then back again. SUPER FUN. ANNNNNND…on top of it all, I wanted a new coop. The chickens are still on egg-strike from all the moving, so hopefully we will be forgiven soon. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to buy a new coop and build a fence for your chickens, only to have to go to Trader Joe’s for Easter eggs to dye. Jerks!

Just for perspective, here is a photo taken from the other end of the yard, by the dog run. You can see the fence to the chicken run on the right in the distance.

It feels good to be home.

Painting Copenhagen

A few months ago, the 79 year old Director of Transfusion Services at UC Davis Medical Center gave me the most amazing brown leather mailbag I could ever ask for. This bag was obviously well loved, and I felt completely undeserving. In an effort to not just send another thank you card (she has also made me a scarf and some gloves), I decided I would paint a small scene of Copenhagen instead. So, I did. I still need to decide how I would like to frame it, but I am hoping to give it to her by her 80th birthday on December 9.

Home Buying 101

Rule #2: Do NOT make a post on your blog about how bitter you are about not getting a house, until you officially, absolutely, cannot have any chance whatsoever of getting the house.

I guess what I’m saying is, we got the house. The first buyer walked due to a poor roof inspection. While I am not particularly excited about having to have the roof redone, I was able to negotiate the cost of the new roof from the sale price on the house, so not all is lost. We are five fruit trees, two grape vines, eight planter boxes, two dog runs, and one chicken coop closer to the dream.

WE. GOT. THE. HOUSE.

Of course, escrow hasn’t closed yet, so I am really hoping I won’t have to write:

Rule #3: Do NOT make a post on your blog about how bitter you are about not getting a house, and then follow that up with a post about how excited you are to have gotten the house, until sparks fly out of your butt and on to the sold sign on the lawn; we lost the house.

Texting with the Big Kid

This pretty much sums up life with a 13 year old…

Home buying 101

Rule #1: Do NOT fall in love with a house before you’ve used its bathroom or put your naked cheeks on its kitchen counters.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t updated in a few weeks. I feel like I have had 100 reasons to post, but I just haven’t had the motivation because my every thought has been on home buying, and most recently, home buyers heartbreak.

Man.
It’s rough.

I was SO ready to word-vomit a giant post about this perfect house with room for chickens and bees and a garden and and… and that we would soon being rearranging plans for and staying up way too late moving into, but frankly, we didn’t get it. Ouch. I firmly do not believe in the “everything happens for a reason” ideologies, so right now, it’s Poutsville USA. No one really warns you of this feeling. Once you make an offer on a house, you immediately start imagining your life there. I searched how best to refinish the terrible 90’s Oak cabinets, and the relative cost of hardwood flooring. I also started collecting boxes, deciding which of my furniture would need to be sold on craigslist before moving, and looked into canceling our Christmas trip to North Carolina to allow for more moving time.

Then, a few hour before we expected to receive a counteroffer and/or that they accepted our offer, another offer came in. This meant that the sellers would do a multiple counter offer, asking for highest and best. We resubmitted our offer, 10k higher than before, and waited. The next morning we were notified that they went with the other offer.

GREAT!

But… here are some cute pictures of my daughter from Halloween, so as not to be a complete downer:

Dress | Little Peaches Boutique

Adventures in (Dill) Pickling

Dill Pickles. Truth be told, I’ve never pickled or jellied or anything of the sort and have no idea why, after turning 35, I’ve decided to become an old lady. And, if I continue my truth-ing, I don’t actually like pickles. My dad use to put bread & butter pickles in my tuna, so that does have some essence of nostalgia for me, but that’s about the totality of my pickle desires. I have, however, watched Snooki and Anna Nicole Smith make sweet sweet love to some pickles while watching some sad reality TV, and have some appreciation for their lusting, so I decided to add “Pickler” to my CV.

EQUIPMENT:

6 1-Quart Canning Jars with Lids
1 Large Water bath Canner
1 Medium Saucepan (for Brine)
6-pc Canning set
1 Plate for Lids
Measuring Cups / Spoons

INGREDIENTS:

BRINE:
6 cups White vinegar
6 cups Water
8 tbsp. Pickling salt

DILL PICKLES
12 lbs. Pickling cucumbers (approximately 5 cucumbers per jar)
12 Garlic cloves, peeled
24-30 Fresh dill strands (4-5 strands per jar)
3 tsp. Whole black peppercorns
12 Dried red pepper pods (I used Chile Japones)
6 Fresh grape leaves

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Fill a Large Water-Bath Canner (with rack) half with water and put it on the stove.
  2. Remove lids, fill all jars with water, add them to the (still cold) water bath, and turn stove on high to bring to a boil.
  3. Prep all Cucumbers; wash, cut ends, slice if desired.
  4. In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil. Maintain heat.
  5. Place lids on a deep plate and cover with a little of the boiling water. This will warm and prepare the lids to ensure a good seal.
  6. Lift the rack on the Water-Bath Canner. You are going to prepare one jar at a time, in effort to keep each jar hot. Remove a jar from the boiling water and empty it into a spare pot; this water can be used to ensure there is enough water to cover the jars in the water bath.
  7. In each jar, add 1 small grape leaf, 2 cloves garlic, 4-5 dill strands, 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns, and 2 dried red pepper pods.
  8. Pack cucumbers tightly in each jar.
  9. Pour hot brine over cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch room on the top.
  10. Wipe sweat from your brow, tell yourself not to panic, and pray for no Botulism. Seriously though, canning for the first time is stressful. I don’t know how the cute little silver-tips do it.
  11. Wipe the top of jar with a clean damp cloth, and add hot lid and band.
  12. Place in hot water bath and process for 10 minutes at a rolling boil. Remove jars and place on a towel overnight. In the morning, check to ensure that the jars are sealed by pressing down on the center of the lid; if you hear a “pop” sound, swear profusely, and consider a new hobby.

Disclaimer: Since these need to sit approximately 2 weeks before eating, if after 2 weeks you never hear from me again, do NOT make these pickles. You have been warned. ENJOY!

King’s Skate Country – Elk Grove, CA

A lot of my childhood was spent rollerskating laps at Chuck E. Cheese in Chico, CA. In fact, the first song that was ever dedicated to me was the Beach Boys “Kokomo” on the slow skate by my 5th grade boyfriend. So, of course, when I saw that King’s Skate Country in Elk Grove offers a tiny tot skate (under 8) on weekends from 10:30am – 1:00 pm, we were all in. I knew that this was probably going to be short lived, and that I would practically have to drag her around the rink (twice, if you must know), but entering these places is like entering a time capsule, and completely worth it. On the other hand, why must every rollerskating rink be left in 1975? I would bet that if someone opened a rink in an area that wasn’t completely seedy, brought it into this century and added beer, many of people would partake. As for now, I think if I wanted to film my own episode of “To Catch a Predator,” I would know exactly where I would start.

Otherwise, I think it went really well. She wasn’t particularly fond of the kangaroo mascot who was doing the hokey pokey with the kids with lights out (I cant make this shit up), but other than that, I think she liked it.

Bodysuit | American Apparel
Shorts | Zara