Monthly Archives: June 2009

yard candy


I also puttered outside this weekend, and here are the money shots from that. Our pink blooms are dying off just as the white ones are opening up. Above is phlox, which is pretty, if weirdly named. below, a white diamond hydrangea.

white diamond hydrangea2

I have to say, after seeing all the gorgeous blue hydrangea in the neighborhood, I kind of wish I’d gone off color-scheme.

And I finally got around to potting the parsley and basil that was leftover from Joe’s grandma’s garden at the shore. I can already taste the pesto.

potted herbs



alienating the neighbors

sanding station2

The nice thing about finally having decent weather is that we get to work outside. Our neighbors may take the opposite view.

Regardless, for the next few weeks, sanding and staining wood will be my life. Joe finalized the design for my closet system, and I am desperate to have a place, any place, to hang my clothes. Four and a half closet-less months is my limit.

So far, I got two boards done. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s because there are four passes for every board: medium-grit first, then fine, on both sides. Plus, there were these maddening sprinkles of rain that interrupted, forcing me to throw plastic over everything in a panic. God toying with me again.

The big problem is where to put all that wood. It has to be able to dry safely, without getting dinged up, and our garage is at max capacity. Thanks to our ant problem, though, the shed is still pretty empty. So Joe and his dad devised an ingenius system of hanging the finished boards from the shed rafters via hooks screwed into the sides. It looks to me like a wood slaughterhouse.

shed meat locker

Two down, 11 to go.

remaining wood crop




strawberry salad3
So here’s my first salad. It’s spinach topped with strawberries, gorgonzola, and candied pecans with a champagne vinaigrette.

It’s good, but not good enough to convert me into a regular leaf-eater. The homemade dressing was spicier than I’d anticipated, maybe because I subbed white wine vinegar for champagne vinegar and went with Dijon when I couldn’t find spicy apricot mustard. Joe wouldn’t try any because of the gorgonzola.

The bigger success was my homemade pizza. I’m not a big cheese person (I am actually mildly lactose intolerant), but we’ve been on a provolone kick for a while. This week, I got some from Wegman’s that was purely inedible. The stuff wasn’t cheap, though, so I was determined to figure out a way to eat it. I found a recipe for a provolone and mushroom pizza—yum.

mushroom pizza crop
Making the dough was actually pretty easy, even though I got cake yeast instead of dry. I made Joe his own pie to top, but we had no tomato sauce or mozzarella, so we improvised with chunky spaghetti sauce, garlic and fresh basil.

margherita pizza3
His margherita style pie was decent, but the mushroom was out of this world. I swear it may be the best pizza I’ve ever had. The secret is this little bottle:

truffle oil

Black truffle oil. You finish the pie with a little of this and some oregano. It’s seriously a miracle ingredient, but it’s expensive (eight bucks for this little bottle) and has more calories per teaspoon than a truckload of bacon. But it makes you seem like a freaking genius in the kitchen. I made Joe try a slice and actually got a compliment out of my picky eater.

I think we’ll have a make-your-own pie night again soon. I’m curious to see what Belle thinks. And if she’ll want chicken nuggets as her topping.


salad days

I finally got around to going to our local library. It’s a really nice one,  and over the weekend, I devoured the first two books I’ve read in a year. One of them was called Hungry Monkey, and it caught my interest because it was about a restaurant critic trying to raise his daughter to be an adventurous eater.

I live with two of the least adventurous eaters in the world. Despite my valiant efforts to teach Izabelle about the virtues of fresh fruit, she prefers cold chicken nuggets (her mom packs them in her lunchbox. Don’t even get me started on that). If she could, she would live off of those, pretzels, and water ice.

Joe has made strides but he is not much better. We eat chicken 6 or 7 days a week. He’ll occasionally try fish, but that’s about it. I, on the other hand, love food, the more adventurous, the better.

My biggest failing is salad. I suck at making it, and it almost never occurs to me to eat it. That may have something to do with Joe’s technique—he unvaryingly favors romaine and hunks of raw vegetables. On the rare occasions I am served salad, like a wedding, or decide to order one I love it.

So I’m on a mission: to find out how to make a really, really good salad. I’m going to try a new one every week for a while (recipes welcome). First up: a strawberry, candied nut, and gorgonzola spinach salad. Wish me luck!


chaos theory


This is the only thing that’s happened around the house in the past week, thanks to the month o’rain we’ve had. Our lilies bloomed.

The inside of the house is actually more of a mess than ever, since Joe and his dad moved all the crap I had piled in the closet to the living room while they install the baseboard. And then had to stop midway through because of the incessant downpour. So I’m forced to hopscotch over boxes of crap to get to the TV or dining room table. Fun.

Oh, and while they were installing the baseboard, Joe’s dad accidentally scratched up two of our floorboards horribly with the zipper on his pants. None of us realized they make Dockers with zippers like ginsu knives.

But as relieved as I was to give up my title as Hardwood Destroyer—this is waaay worse than the tiny dent I made by dropping a can of WD-40—I am not happy with the present state of chaos.

At least the lilies are looking good.


business is blooming

Not sure what these are, besides pretty:

misc purple coneflower

The roses are starting to grow on me.

red rosebush

Not sure what this is either. We were thinking of cutting it down until it bloomed like this. Now, how could we?

butterfly bush


a call to action

Every weekend, I beg Joe to do something in the way of progress on finishing phase I of this renovation. I even posted a to-do list on the refrigerator (of which we’ve crossed off one item in a month). My mistake, it turns out, was not using the right stationery.

Sunday at dinner, after a weekend of making our shed more inhabitable than our actual house, I opened a letter from the township. It announced that, because of some problems with illegal drainage connections in the area, they will be sending inspectors around. Despite the fact that we don’t have a sump pump, or even a basement, they may come inside.

Joe panicked at this, concerned that we’ll be found in some code violation. Suddenly, finishing phase I became a priority. He called his dad and arranged to put up the remaining trim and baseboard tomorrow night.

I feel bad for the poor guy, but I am secretly pleased. And I am most definitely swiping that letter, coping it, and printing up some of my own township stationery. It could come in useful for finally getting some window treatments …