summery things to love

A few of my favorite things about summer: Fresh flowers in random rooms. Just picked vegetables on every menu. Pesto on everything. Knitting to baseball, except right now I'm on my laptop while I'm watching baseball, but usually I'm knitting. And what about those Giants anyway? If you are a baseball fan, can you just imagine how exciting it is to be a Giants fan these days!


But this is a garden post, so I'll get on with that! The cucumbers are coming in and I was able to pick enough of them to make my first jar of pickles. I really only grow cucumbers for one reason and that is to make Dan Koshansky's amazing refrigerator pickles all summer long. They are delicious, crispy, easy, and fail proof and you can make them as garlicky or as dilly as you like. If you haven't made them yet, let this be the year you give them a try. You can use this recipe with purchased cucumbers too; choose a smallish, thin-skinned variety. I grow my own warty cucumbers for pickling but I often spot pickling cucumbers at my farmer's market. If you come across fresh, warty, smallish, thin skinned cucumbers, that's what you're looking for, buy some and make your own! Dan's recipe works equally well for cucumber spears, slices, rounds or whole. It's also great for pickled green beans. For green beans, snap off the stem end, blanch in boiling water for one minute, shock in ice water for one minute, then proceed with recipe.


I finished a knit last week and I love it. I wore it last night and received some nice compliments. It's cropped and perfect with high waisted trousers. Details and modeled pics coming soon.


In the meantime, here are some pictures from the garden.





Dilly Beans with Garlic.


Fonda by Caitlyn Hunter

This beauty needs a few more weeks of warm weather.






Shasta Daisy





A new tomato variety for me, Blue Cream Berries. Still deciding if I'll plant them again.


Our first tiny harvest of pattypan summer squash...

...tuned into a nice little lunch.
Toss thickly cut squash and halved cherry tomatoes with 1 tsp. olive oil,
salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp. each of fresh herbs, toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan cheese. 

Lightly cover with foil and bake in hot oven until vegetables soften. My toaster oven took a half hour.
Top with grated cheese, I have a mix of mozzarella and cheddar here, and broil until bubbly. 

I served it with a poached egg and Everything Bagel Seasoning.
Have you tried bagel seasoning yet?
We seem to put it on everything and love this one.


Have I told you about my good hearted neighbor who brings over the most gorgeous, fresh eggs every week? She knows that Carter loves eggs so she also brought over a daddy, mommy, and baby egg family. They were so dang cute they were hard for me to cook, but cook I did, poached eggs on toast for us. Carter had the daddy egg, Papa had the mommy egg and Grammy had the baby egg. Fair enough.



The roses are gearing up for their second bloom.


Purple basil in the foreground.





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new life for old china

 




In case you were like me in 2020 and did quite of bit of clearing out clutter but still don't know what to do with the inherited china sets that no one wants, I'll tell you what I did. First, I came to terms with the fact that my life is much different than the lifestyle and entertaining style of the generations before me. Secondly, my home is not a storage warehouse nor is it a museum. These realizations allowed me to give myself some grace for what was to come next. 


The back story: I am a lucky girl and inherited three sets of fine china. They are beautiful and memories galore are attached to their loveliness; beloved family members long gone, homes I've loved that I'll never enter again, and HUGE noisy family gatherings I will never enjoy again. 


The problem: There were too many pieces that were taking up too much space. I resented the space they were using and the maintenance they required. Family members were not interested in them.


The solution: I donated all the pieces I never used; the bread and butter plates, cups and saucers, fruit cups, relish dishes, gravy boats and other matching serving pieces I don't need. I kept only the dinner plates and salad plates and one set of cream soup coupes that were too gorgeous to part with. I also kept one cut glass sugar and creamer set, one silver gravy boat and one crystal butter plate and some platters. I don't need duplicates nor do I need specialty dishes for celery and another for pineapple. Seriously. Years ago when my mother was explaining the use of certain pieces, my eyes almost rolled out of my head when she showed me her pineapple tidbit plate. She explained that when she was married, pineapple was exotic and quite the thing to share with guests during cocktails. Love the charming story to (tid)bits, but it doesn't mean I need to save it.


The outcome: Now I can store my inherited pieces in a small area where I can easily retrieve them making it more likely that I'll use them. If you have china sets in boxes in the basement, think about doing what I did. It's not likely your kids will want the stuff anyway (but you can ask) and I'll bet you'll use the plates once again if you don't have to store and maintain an entire set with outdated pieces.


I'll also set your mind at ease. Those oddball pieces you think on one will ever need or use if you donate them? Don't worry friend, crafty folks transform old china pieces into candle holders, nightlights, planters, chandeliers, even bird feeders. Let someone else use them and love them in a new way! I myself am a crafty girl and while transforming them is something I could have done, I knew I would not. Giving them up meant someone else could breath new life into them and love them once again. I think my mother, aunt and grandmother would be happy knowing how much I love and treasure what I saved, and definitely think they would smile seeing an old teacup used as a bird feeder. 


This worked for me and maybe it's something that will work for you too. Tell me what you think! Could you break up a set of china?


I always like to credit any image I slurp from the web but couldn't find a source for the teacup wreath above. If anyone is knows, please let me know and I'll edit my post.


Cynthia Nouri/Sasha Nicholas

The Brooklyn Teacup



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If you'd like to make a comment, please click here or scroll down. I reply to each comment and my response will appear directly below your comment. If you would like a personal reply, please know that I use the Blogger platform and they do not give me your contact information when you comment. If you would like a personal reply you can contact me using the contact form on the right side at the very end of my website. Recently the comments have been going into my junk file but now I'm checking it daily. Please contact me again if I didn't respond and you require a response.


Our Revamped Veggie Garden and Patio Refresh

 Come on in and have a look-see around the vegetable garden. This spring my husband and son replaced our old, broken-down raised beds and watering system. The old garden had served us well for decades but the last few years have been challenging as any repairs we attempted simply did not stick. The raised beds were falling apart and the watering system had sprung a dozen leaks. The garden was in desperate need of a complete overhaul and it was long overdue. Enter our son who offered to help. This was a Godsend and literally took weeks if not months off this job. Even so it was still months in the making and in the middle of it all we found another well that had to be dug through and filled with fill rock that we had to order. After a few set-backs like this, the garden beds and watering systems were installed and are now efficient, beautiful, and water-wise. My husband and son had the lion's share of work with the installation, but after all that heavy work was over and the beds were ready, I finally came onto the scene. I'm in charge of the planting, weeding and harvesting (and the taking of pictures) so my work has just begun. 


The picture below shows the rose arch where you enter the garden from the patio. Raised beds are on the left and right of the center path. Out of sight and to the far right I have David Austin roses against the fence and to the left is our lawn and perennial flower border. At the end of the garden is an olive tree, our greenhouse and a new play area for Carter. 


This will be a busy summer in the garden, just the way we like it.



Above, I love the diffused light of twilight when the colors are saturated and intense
and the garden is quiet and cool.

Bright California sun works its spring magic on the garden. 


A few steps outside the kitchen door and I can pick chives, marjoram, basil, thyme, sage and rosemary.

We received these tiki torches as a gift. They flicker and are so handsome and I love them so much that I ordered six more. They run on batteries and automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn. They look absolutely beautiful in the garden and make a great Father's Day gift.



After sprucing up the garden I felt the patios needed a refresh too. These pillow covers come in four sizes and eight colors and are such a great price--12 cost me less than $50! I ordered two sets in navy to recover my old, faded pillows. They have zippers and go in and out of the washing machine.

The patio off our family room is a favorite cozy spot and seats 6. I had a rug languishing in the attic for a decade doomed to never see the light of day again until I gave it a try it on the patio. I love how it warmed up this spot and made it even cozier. It feels great to breathe new life into something I once loved but was unused for too long. We try to sit here every evening and I keep a basket nearby with a warm blanket and some knitting. This is also a favorite resting spot when taking a break from working in the garden.




One day I'll finish the scarf in the basket. It only gets attention when I collapse here and didn't happen to bring any other knitting with me.

Narrow brick planters on our patio grow herbs and peppers.

time for happy hour

Try not to notice the Macgyvered water pipes. Next week's job is to make them invisible. They will either be painted gray, buried or covered with wood caps.

We have 30 tomato plants. Since this photo was taken they have grown much larger.


Green and yellow patty pan squash in the foreground.

beans and cucumbers

A nasturtium growing here amid chives and basil have edible leaves and flowers. 
They are crisp, colorful and lightly peppery in salads.







I asked for plenty of room around each bed so I can maneuver the wheelbarrow around the corners.

Carter's play area is a new feature in our garden. He calls it his HQ and can play back here for hours. The redwood rounds that were salvaged from a neighbor when he had to cut down a tree, are great for hopping and also make perfect surfaces for playing. It's here where he sets up his dinosaur lands and plays shield shop. He only plays shield shop with Papa and all I really know about that game is that he needs my large pot lids. I've seen Papa "drive" by and stop to ask the shopkeeper if he has any magical shields for sale. Carter told me I couldn't play the game because it would be too hard to teach me. It must be a difficult game filled with nuance far above my level of understanding. ;) 

I have to boast that I rolled these big dudes one by one down the entire street by myself. By myself! (My husband is going to read this and will insist that he helped too. OK, he did bring one, but mostly he stood around and chatted with the neighbors.)


We salvaged an old table and chairs from a neighbor's trash. One man's trash is another man's treasure, am I right? It was already covered with paint splotches when we got it so it's ideal as a painting table. It's missing a piece of wood and is on the repair list, and when it's fixed, it will be quite perfect!

We have a battery run bubble machine here too.
Bubbles have a way of turning a plain old day into a magical day.





Another attic find that got a second lease on life was this iron tiered stand
that I moved to the center of the garden to hold my garden tools. 



Purple basil in the foreground.

leeks

Not the vegetable garden; zinnias line the front of the perennial border.
 I'll make a flower border post when these are blooming.

Lots of sun!

Thank you for taking the garden tour. I'll keep you posted with pictures throughout the summer as we start to harvest produce and the flower border starts to bloom. 

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If you'd like to make a comment, please click here or scroll down. I reply to each comment and my response will appear directly below your comment. If you would like a personal reply, please know that I use the Blogger platform and they do not give me your contact information when you comment. If you would like a personal reply you can contact me using the contact form at the right side at the very end of my website. Recently the comments have been going into my junk file but now I'm checking it daily. Please contact me again if I didn't respond and you require a response.

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