That Time of Year

I love that time of year when dinner comes from the garden. Sweet Miss and the Fella are headed up for a visit, and we have blackberry cobbler, apple pie, apple cake, blueberry muffins, fresh green beans, and a giant salad on the menu. Don’t forget about the plums. I’m sure they’ll work their way in there, too.

Plus me and the MR are celebrating our 27th anniversary. It’s going to be a good weekend.

Hope you’re enjoying the fruit of your labors or supporting your local farmers.


Cooling Down

The last month has been crazy. Sweet Miss and the Fella got married, lots of family, the garden and orchard are on overload, and let’s add some construction for fun.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like writing when someone is pounding around in my house. I also don’t feel like writing when I’m sweating to death in my home. Now, my midwestern friends and family, and the California cousins may be laughing, but it’s been in the 80’s and 90’s around here. Our grass is brown, and we are hot.

Me and the MR were thinking ahead. Back in the spring, we had a fellow come out and give us a bid on air conditioning. After six years of sweltering during the summer, we decided to splurge on AC.

A few visits and a few months went by before they gave us an estimate. Our great room is huge; and with the number of windows, the height of the ceiling, and size of the room, keeping it cool is a tricky proposition.

Late July, they had a plan and were ready to roll. The MR took pity on my sanity and said we were busy—weddings do take priority— and pushed them off till last week. So we had courteous, professional, friendly visitors every morning at 7:30 am. Have I mentioned that we’ve switched to decaf?

By Thursday afternoon when I arrived home from work, we had a new heat pump installed and four units blowing cool air. The MR was busy taping and mudding all the holes the workers had made in the walls.

That’s one of those things I never really thought about before having so much work done. The workers had to cut holes to run the wiring, but that doesn’t mean they’re going make it look good after they’re done. When we had the radiators pulled out of the upstairs, we were left with missing molding and holes in the carpet. I’m just lucky that the MR is so good at putting things back together.

Our excitement over AC lasted for maybe a minute. The MR texted me that it wasn’t working the very next day. One of the units was making a hissing noise and the temperature was steadily rising. The workers were out again on Monday morning and within a few hours had a broken coupling fixed and cool air blowing our way.

Me and the MR have been wondering how air conditioning will change our lives. When it was so desperately hot inside, we’d make our way out to the deck in the late afternoons searching for a breeze and watching the hummingbirds. Cocoa will be very unhappy if this impacts deck time.

OK, so now you’re wondering about all the important stuff.  Well, the wedding was amazing. Sweet Miss looked beautiful, the Fella came into the reception raising her hand in the air shouting “Yes.” Lots of joy, lots of love, lots of excitement. I’m just thankful for all the friends and family who came together to make it such a wonderful day.

The garden is off and running. We have tomatoes, beans, carrots, lettuce, blueberries, blackberries, plums, apples, and more to come. So I’ve made applesauce, and plum jam, and frozen apple pie filling. We even cooked green beans wrapped in bacon on the salt block. It was a little messy but oh so tasty. And we have salad almost every night.


So what have you been up to lately? Any apple or plum recipes to share?

10 Apples Up on Top

When I was a little kid, we had this book about apples. A fellow starts with one apple on his head, then his buddies get in on the fun; and before you know it, there’s a big chase scene, and an apple explosion. That’s kind of what we had this weekend.

A ton of apples up high, an injured main branch, and an apple explosion left us with a severely injured tree.

I’ve been trying to be brutal when I thin, but some branches were out of my reach and I left them alone. Can you spell trouble with a capital T? Let this be a warning. You can’t be a wimp when it comes to thinning the fruit on your trees. I’ve heard two to three per blossom cluster, but err on the side of caution. You don’t want your tree to break in half.

Now, it looks like we have apples for sauce and baking. I went ahead and thinned more fruit, but I’ll have to keep an eye on these heavily-laden branches.

We have a busy week with the wedding coming up, but the garden doesn’t seem to care. I think I’ll leave the rest in the field and hope for the best.

Any orchard tips to pass along?

Letting Go

Way back when, I found myself working at JC Penny’s during the summer holidays before starting my junior year at the University of Washington. I began in the sporting goods department and then moved on to housewares to work around my school schedule.

I was surrounded by coffee makers, pots and pans, dishes, and table linens. So that fall when my mom asked me what dishes I liked, I was kind of surprised, but I knew exactly which ones I wanted. The Mikasa stoneware was so pretty, and while I loved the southwest look of one set, I thought the flowered set would be more lasting. I was 20; I went for pretty.

So under the tree that year, I received place settings of “Garden Poetry”. These were followed in later years with casseroles, platters, and salad bowls. I had salt and pepper shakers, a butter dish, and a gravy boat. My mom was filling up my hope chest.

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Fast forward a little further, and the MR came along. While he liked me, he wasn’t that excited about flowery dishes. But I had so many… When we registered for our wedding, it seemed wasteful to get rid of perfectly good dishes that could go in the microwave and in the oven. They were great, and have lasted more than 27 years. He could help me choose the china.

The MR is a good sport. I like color, and pattern, and texture; and he likes simple. For way too many years, we’ve been at a standstill. I was ready to replace what we have, but we couldn’t agree on anything, and so we’ve bought nothing. This Fourth of July, some dishes I’ve been eyeing and that the MR said looked interesting were on sale for 25-percent off.

Why not? Sometimes you have to say goodbye. I’ve packed them up, and they’re on their way to Goodwill. I miss my mom, I miss her generous gifts and her hopes for my future, but sometimes you have to let go. After all, she had corelle dishes with the green flower trim, heavy brown stoneware, and pastel floral dishes—and those are just those I can remember growing up.

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We will now be dining on two sets of Organic Shaped Dinnerware from West Elm plus a set of four dinner plates just in case we have a crowd over. They’re plain white with a little funk for interest. No flowers in sight, so the MR is happy.

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I’m hoping for happy times and celebrations in our future.

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My mom died over a dozen years ago, but I think she’d approve.

Do you have trouble letting go of gifts from loved ones? Do your dishes have a story?


Drifting Apart

Back in February three years ago, the new furniture and rugs for the great room arrived. It was a fabulous day. Our huge striped rug totally brought the room to life. We had cozy seating areas scattered throughout the room that I enjoyed adding pillows and throws and knick-knacks to. (You can travel back down memory lane to that day at Color Underfoot.)

One of our favorite areas to sit is by the fireplace. We have nice overhead and task lighting, a fireplace for cool evenings, and a place to put up our feet. While we’ve enjoyed many a nice chat in this spot, I’ve noticed one thing. The round rug under the ottoman is a little too small. If you put your feet up and relax, pretty soon you’ll be drifting away from your partner. I don’t like drift.

So I’ve been keeping my eye open for a replacement. The trouble is, we need an odd-size rug. I didn’t want the rug too wide or it would be too close to the fireplace and wander into the walkway. I don’t need any tripping hazards. Most runners that are long enough are too narrow.

After waiting around for years and making do with this small round rug, I decided a 4’x 6′ rug would be long enough to sit under the front of each chair and narrow enough to not run over the hearth or impede passage.

Plush Rugs had a sale over the Fourth of July, so I bit the bullet at ordered Dynamic Rugs, Vogue in the grey and rust colorway. It arrived last week and looks oh so lovely.

The gray in the rug melts into the color of the floor perfectly, and the abstract rust design marries well with the rust in the large rug anchoring our main seating area. I love it when everything plays nice together.

Of course it is summer time now, and we tend to chat out on the deck in the evenings, so we we can listen to the birds and watch Cocoa chase the deer and bunnies. But come winter, I have a feeling we’ll enjoy cozy evenings here. Now, I just have to find a new ottoman, one that’s not too big, or too small, too old-fashione, or too bold, durable without looking ugly. It’s always something.

Snagging any great deals lately? 


Shake, Shake, Shake…

If you grew up in the age of disco, that simple phrase ends in only one way. Long before Meghan Trainor was singing about bass and treble, KC & the Sunshine Band wanted you to shake your bootie.

While this post has nothing to do with booties, it’s all about shaking and changing the world bit by bit. Have I lost you? OK, let’s slow things down.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Toxic Home Transformation . They offered five or six speakers each day and talked about ways to detoxify your home.  While I couldn’t listen to all of them, I did manage a few interviews each day. The experts talked about getting rid of wifi, toxic cleaning supplies, chlorine, chemicals in your personal care items, scented candles. The topics ranged widely and were quite overwhelming.

One of the moderators suggested picking a few simple things and trying them out. So I’ve been opening the french doors in our bedroom to get a little fresh air each morning. Apparently, all that insulation is great for your fuel bill, but it can trap toxins and off-gassing inside. I like a daily dose of fresh air.

I ordered a sampler kit from Annemarie Skin Care to check out some natural alternatives. It smells heavenly and feels great on my skin, but I’ll have to try it a few more days before coming to any conclusion.

And now for the shaking bit, I joined the My Green Fills Family by ordering the Clean Conscience pack. I receive laundry soap, laundry rinse, and a stain remover in the mail every two months. With just me and the MR at home, this seemed a perfect fit.

I choose what I want, how often, and if it’s scented with essential oils or not. I’ve tried many natural  detergents and been unimpressed with the results, but I thought I’d give this a try.

One thing My Green Fills has over the others is its unique distribution method. My first order came with a container for each of my purchases and a small packet of product. I added water to each container up to the fill line, put in the packet, and–you guessed it–shook.  A little shaking and we were ready to roll.

It’s only been a week, but so far I’m liking how my wash is turning out. I gave up dryer sheet years ago, so the scented version was a little overwhelming for me. I also failed to notice that the cap had markings on the inside to show how much to use. The first few loads, I’d used too much and the scent was quite strong. Now I seem to have figured things out, but I’ve changed my next order to the unscented versions. And you know the really cool thing about the next order? It’s going to be a small envelope with a few small packets. I’ll get to shake, shake, shake and it’ll be good. No more plastic bottles.

I’m doing my part to make the world a little greener and using a little less plastic.

You can check out My Green Fills here and learn all about their commitment to a natural, healthy clean and a better world.

How are you changing the world?

Making It Inviting

The MR totally scored when he bought our new deck furniture. We wound up with two comfortable seating areas on both sides of the deck. But for a girl who loves color, brown-on-brown just wasn’t cutting it. So while the MR watched David Letterman interview Howard Stern on TV, I shopped for pillows online.

Joss & Main came through with some bright and colorful options. I went bold on the east side of the deck where we hang out when it’s really hot.

Check out the bird pillow; I thought it was totally in keeping with the area where we watch hummingbird wars. Those little birds are feisty.

Off the dining room, I went for a more subdued feel with beige solids and stripes and one punch of color.

The ikat print was brighter than I expected, and the beige was a little plain, but it hasn’t stopped people from using them.

The MR’s folks are in town, and Papa has found his spot.

This was meant to go out yesterday, but we’ve had a few crazy days full of excitement around here. Baby Girl and one of my good friends and her daughter through Sweet Miss a bridal shower over the weekend. So many lovely presents, so much laughter and silly games. We love having the girls home, but boy it wears me out.

On a less happy note, while we were doing girlie stuff, The Fella broke his shoulder blade mountain biking. So that put a damper on some of the festivities.  Monday brought a mini crisis that involved searching through a frosting filled trash bag and an impromptu crochet class. So count yourselves lucky to be hearing from me at all.

As the big day swiftly approaches, we are so happy for Sweet Miss and Her Fella. I’m thinking July is going to be some kind of wonderful.

Hope yours is filled with family, friends, laughter, and maybe a few bright, squishy pillows.