a catch-up post in photos

This year I finally got a white Christmas tree. I’ve wanted a white or silver tree for many many years, and this year I finally found one for the right price, that was the right size (6.5 ft) and it’s perfect. I love it. IMG_1128IMG_1126
IMG_1130 IMG_1132I’m actually excited about Christmas this year. I felt inspired to decorate a little. We have some fun plans involving San Francisco light-display touring and a dinner out and going to see the lights at the zoo. Everything feels celebratory and happy, not obligatory and stressful. This is pretty nice, I have to say.

Some other photos to catch you up on where I’ve been… This takes us from Muir Woods and the Pelican Inn when Tammie came to visit at the start of November, to San Francisco (Sutro Baths and an otter spotting! with Tammie as well), to driving home from Oregon, to the Santa Monica trip, to autumn in the backyard, finally wrapping up with some cute Thomas shots.

It’s been so busy, but good. I continue to be so grateful for my current life. Next post: Books!

Muir Woods with Tammie The Pelican Inn Perfect lunch by the fire at the Pelican Sutro Bath ruins, Cliff House OTTER!! Driving home from Oregon Santa Monica PIer Santa Monica Amazing breakfast: bread pudding with baked apples Santa Monica Autumn backyard Thomas exploring the wet yard More gratuitous kitty photos Hiding!!

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things happening

Among which the most awesome is the fact that I finally got those awful junipers pulled from the front of the house. This is about half-way through. It’s so much better. My mom is coming this weekend and we’ll get some new things to plant, something more modern. Goodbye horrible prickly ugly 60-year-old junipers!

Another thing happening is that somehow I managed to turn 38 . I mean, seriously. How does this happen?! There ought to be a law. Celebrated with a special someone, and had amazing chocolate-hazelnut mousse cake for dessert. Nothing wrong with that, my friends. Nothing at all. 

(Being silly, contemplating the amazing cake)

Lots happening here at home, which I probably will eventually talk about here. However, in the meantime, all is well. I’m pretty busy right now but it’s all good.

I did manage to finish The Nasty Bits (Anthony Bourdain) and am currently working on Miss Peregrine’s Home For Unusual Children. I like it, but the links to the photos are always completely obvious/overworked and a little unnecessary. I think it would have worked just as well without the photos. I’m only about halfway through, so maybe it becomes a little less labored (photo-wise). Still, enjoying it.

It’s almost autumn, my favorite time of year. Lots more posts to come, about books and gardens and cooking and so forth; just wanted to pop in with a quick update!

 

homemade/grown projects

First, the garden (not the greatest photo, sorry):

That there (on the right) is my tomato patch. Six plants, all going wild. They are producing like mad (this is the harvest just from tonight):

You can see some of my peppers behind the giant bowl of tomatoes (5 varieties of regular-size tomatoes and a yellow cherry tomato that is really yummy, SunSweet I think it is). I’m also getting a fairly steady supply of zucchini and cucumbers, and my green beans did well although I didn’t really eat any, I just admired the vines (which you can see on the left of the photo). For some reason I didn’t feel like harvesting them. I still have some going, I should get a bowlful this weekend and have some while they’re still available. Potatoes are still growing; hopefully they’ll start to die back soon and I can see what’s been growing. I keep feeling around for “new” potatoes but haven’t found any, which worries, me, but the plants on top are really big and green, so… Anyway. Also doing well is the basil, and my other herbs. And I stil have some oranges.

I have to get a photo of the grapes that are coming over the fence from my neighbors. There are quite a few bunches over on my side of the fence, so I picked some, and they are quite good. The grapes that are accessible to squirrels have been totally stripped clean, which is pretty cute if you think about it. “Grapes! Yes, please!”

(especially since, for whatever reason, they leave my garden alone, so they can be cute again, not nuisances)

Other homemade projects underway:

  • Kombucha: my brother and his wife make batches of this all the time, and got my mom to make some too, and it’s really good homemade. So I decided to try it. Right now my scoby is growing and doing well. I think I’m going to let it get a little thicker before I try making a batch. I can’t wait! I think my favorite part is going to be going to the homebrew store to get flip-top bottles.
  • Plum liqueur: I made a big giant batch of plum liqueur during the Plum Crazy Days. It’s doing really well, and looks beautiful. Tastes yummy too.
  • Oranges: I still have some on the tree and I think I might make a batch of Orangecello this weekend, since I can. I feel bad that I’m not using my oranges as much as I could, although I did make almost 30 jars of marmalade, so I guess that’s something…
  • Vinegar drink: My BFF Erin turned me on to Bragg’s vinegar drink (sold in glass bottles in health food stores). It’s of course, well, vinegary, but I kind of liked it. A few weeks ago I bought another bottle and liked it even more than the first time, so I looked at the ingredients. It’s just Bragg’s vinegar, water, stevia and (in this case) ginger. So I figured it could be made at home pretty easily. Erin tried it and said it was good. I happened to have a Snapple bottle today, and it’s about the size of the Bragg’s bottle, so I thought I’d give it a try. Success! Two tablespoons Bragg’s, two little scoops of Trader Joe’s stevia, and fill it up with water and shake. Ta-da! Vinegar drink. I made one tonight to take to work tomorrow. Might have to do that regularly.
  • Painting: well, not really homemade, but I finally painted the ugly office. Now, instead of boring white with a bizarre tan stripe around the room, it is a lovely creamy light yellow (Windham Cream, from Benjamin Moore, color-matched in Valspar paint). I’ll try to get a photo of that. It took me a few days to get used to it and now I really like it, and am considering painting the third bedroom that color as well.

I think that’s it. I have really not kept up with the yard all that much — it’s doing okay, but it’s really overgrown in areas and I have a lot of work to do. I think it will be cooling down over the next few weeks so I can get some work done — it’s hard to muster up energy to cut branches and trim back trees and brush and do weeding when it’s over 100 degrees out there. That seems like autumn work anyway, right?

I’ll post updates of the kombucha — it’s almost ready for a photo (the scoby is kind of gross!). And what I decide to do with all the tomatoes.. probably at least some plain canned tomatoes and maybe a batch or two of salsa. After all, I have the peppers…

I like making stuff. It makes me happy. For the last few nights, my dinner has been a variation of Tomato Plus. Tomato Plus Hard Boiled Egg. Tomato Plus Cucumber Salad. Tomato Plus Basil and Buffalo Mozzarella. I’m still not tired of them (as opposed to the plums… oh, the plums… I still have nightmares about the plums…)

 

 

 

more beauty

The orange tree burst into flower yesterday. It was over 90 degrees and the heat brought out the perfume. It smelled absolutely heavenly. 

Yesterday was a perfect day. Friday was a total crap day. But yesterday? Perfect.

My aunt came to visit and we had a lovely time. We sat and talked and talked, and then had lunch outside at the table on the patio. Then we decided to go to the library and spent over an hour there, looking at books and talking about our favorite ones (see? perfect!). The rest of the visit was just as wonderful.

Today I am going to try and extend this wonderfulness. The last few weeks have felt icky in lots of ways. I’m going to make a concerted effort to combat it and see if this week can’t be a really good week. Starting with yesterday, continuing today. I resolved this morning not to do any chores today. Instead, I’m going to spend as much of today as I can right here with a stack of books and magazines:

Tomorrow I’ll do a little work in the garden, but that won’t count as chores because it’s so fun to get it all put together right now. A few more photos from the yard:

I had forgotten how lovely the yard is this time of year. My potatoes (in the blue buckets) are going great. I’ve got the tomatoes planted (bed on the right), and cucumbers and squash and lettuce seeds going (bed on the left). Beans and peas on the trellises in the back. Everything looks vaguely overgrown and lush — my favorite.

But those orange blossoms… Perhaps my new favorite scent of all time.