Thursday, March 24, 2011

At First...


At first there was one.  Now there are two!  I knew that allium bulbs could, with time, begin to produce more than one flower per year, I just didn't know when that would be.  I don't know if I can emphasize enough how much I enjoy this plant.  It was probably my best $10 purchase ever!   

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Short

BFJ informs me that my last post was waaaayyy tooooo loooong for him to wade through, so I'll keep this one very short!  And by the way, thank you to all of you who read my blog, whether you read to the very long end or not, and thank you if you comment, either in the comments or by email or phone.  I really like you!

The best thing I've learned to say this year is, "I'll have to think about it."   

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

That Book I'm Readng

Finally, the post about the book I'm reading!!  I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  In truth, I am working on / have read more than one book in the last month or so, but this is the one to which I have referred.  More on other books later.

But first, a picture, a sneak preview for the March Photo Scavenger Hunt.  Chives!  I said it before, they're the first thing up in the garden each year. 


Now back to the book.  A wise, elder friend who grew up in a farming community gave me this book.  She does not share my interest in gardening, but happens to be an expert on nutrition.  I tried to read it directly, but I had a hard time getting past the first chapter, and finally put it down.  That was at least a year ago!  Somehow, perhaps in anticipation of a new garden, I came back around to this book and picked it up again.  Since I had pretty much read the first chapter, I skimmed it again and then moved on to the second chapter.  Little by little I have been engrossed by this book and the word that comes to mind when I think of this book is 'savor.'  It has a lot of deep reaching information, it's not a page turner in that sense, although I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  So I haven't finished it but I wanted to go ahead and share it with you anyway.  

One passage I read recently that gave me pause was in the chapter entitled Slow Food Nations where she talks about a farming friend who has two pieces of land.  One has been farmed organically, forever.  The other has been farmed without chemicals by this farmer but was "conventionally farmed" by the previous tenant.  She writes, "Now David treated both sides identically, but even after a decade, the corn on the forever-organic side stood taller and greener."  Ten years!  It takes more than ten years to restore... this is making me think long and hard about what gets sprayed around my garden nevermind in it. 

Okay, that makes it sound like this book is about organic gardening.  I guess it is, but the primary point of this book is eating local, and taking some control over where and who your food comes from.  Defining local might be somewhat ambiguous, but for this family, they decided to "eat local" for one year, and for them that meant "within their county."  Might depend on your county!  This also means eating things in season, instead of tropical fruit shipped across many miles, or strawberries in winter.  I actually live in a somewhat rural county, with several farms, but I think for me local is going to be within the Denver metro area, and hopefully lots from my own backyard and family and friends.  We got some beef last year from one of my parents' neighbors.  That was not local to us, but we see my parents regularly, so didn't really have to go out of our way just for the meat.  My mother-in-law keeps raving about her local, organic pork, so maybe sometime this summer we'll get some of that when we're visiting.  I don't know if ranching has a "season."  I haven't committed to eating completely locally, but here's how this book / concept has affected me:

  • I am now buying "cage free" eggs produced at a local farm.
  • I am rethinking my garden for this year - what will I get the most use out of for my square footage?  Pumpkins are going the wrong direction - too much space taken up for a few fruits we can't eat.  I think I will put them in an iffy patch of the yard, and if they thrive, bonus, but the Garden will be for edible plants that share the sun better. 
  • This also goes for the zucchini plant.  Although it is edible, it shaded out most of the peppers and herbs nearby, and will be relegated to a far corner of the lawn.  I expect this will not offend it much, zucchinis are very hardy around here. 
  • I'm giving more thought to where I buy my seeds from.
  • I'm considering saving some seeds next year; definitely planning to will affect what I plant.
  • I'm considering making cheese!  Although I don't like cheese at all.  My thoughts are, perhaps I will like it a bit more if I appreciate the effort it takes to make it, and the ingredients, and if not, other people in the house will enjoy it.  It may be nice in dishes that I already eat, where it is not the spotlight, i.e. pizza.
  • I made bread!  And plan to make more. 
  • I'm hoping to buy ladybugs and praying mantis this year.
  • I'm planning to grow something I've never had before, perhaps swiss chard.
  • Not buying fruit out of season, i.e. strawberries from Chile.
  • Savoring the cherries when they're in season - one of the few items not available in our local grocery store year round.. 
There's got to be more, but I'll end with
  • I'm working now to find recipes for canning and freezing.  Today, we opened our last jar of homemade preserves.  That means that for the last seven months, my kids' PBJs have been made with only homemade Js - and most of that was organic!  The only exception may be that I did buy some apples from the store, and I can't remember if they were organic.  We do still have some plum conserve in the basement.  I don't feel I made good use of the plums, but I did not find any plum jam recipes on the internet.  I don't want that to happen again.  If you know of a good plum recip, please help us all out and leave a link in the comments.   
In line with this book, I saw a special edition of Birds & Blooms magazine on the newsstand called Grow It, Eat It.  This magazine, still available as of today, has several things I needed, like more than one recipe for a given garden veggie, growing information for the same veggies, and information on blanching and freezing. 

Okay, time to make dinner.  Happy garden planning, or just happy day if you're not a gardener!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Art and Artists

I love art, all kinds - photography, knitting, culinary, movies, literature, painting, you get the idea. 

I also LOVE music.  I played a couple different instruments growing up, as did everyone in my house, and my husband plays bass.  This is something I am happy to see my children seem to have a natural aptitude for.  But before we had kids, I went to lots gigs with BFJ and his band.  They frequently shared the stage with Love.45.  I love seeing this band play, they are fun and really tight.  (If you don't know what that means in musical terms, I don't really know how to explain it except I guess it is the opposite of sloppy.)  BFJ mentioned to me last week that they had recently gotten back together so I made a point to go see them last night.  They sounded as great as ever.  And of course, I brought my camera.



I love the intimacy of local bands, people I know, and a stage you can walk up to.  And they'd know who I was if I ran into them on the street.  Back when I met them, I could not believe some of the slop being played on the radio compared to these guys and I know, like all of us artists, they'd like to be spending more time on their craft and less time at a job that just pays the bills, but paying the bills is part of life. 

Someone recently asked why I had upgraded to a pro Flickr account so I'll answered that question.  I upgraded so that I could do things like upload 20 - 30 pictures of a band, send them a link, and share them with the world without having to spend time sending them files on email or burning a disc.  I feel like I've already got my money's worth. 

On a very slightly different note, BFJ and I have been making good use of the documentary catagory on Netflix and have seen lots of great art about art, including:

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Grudgingly, I watched this movie at BFJ's insistance but ended up agreeing it was a great film.  It was up for an Academy Award for Best Documentary last month but did not win.  The primary subject matter is street artists.  In not so many words, it asks some poignant questions about what defines art.  I believe this has some language, so not for kids. 

Picture Me: A Model's Diary
I watched this from a photographer's point of view.  I enjoyed seeing inside the fashion world but this is definitely not for kids and does show some of the grittier parts of the modeling world.  Luckily the main model seems to be pretty grounded.  I don't know what credits her boyfriend had by the time he edited this piece, but he started filming as a recent film grad and I thought it was well planned, well shot and well edited. 

Rock Prophecies
The subject of this film is legendary music photographer Robert Knight.  The film covers some of his historic images as well as his support of music and musicians, and follows his efforts to get more involved in music by connecting unknown talents with the people who can make them stars.  From an historical art point of view, I really enjoyed it.  This film is also peppered with rock icons and their music. 

It Might Get Loud
We actually watched this one last year but it belongs on this list.  It's a simple premise, three guitar giants in the same room.  If you like storytelling musicians, check this one out.  My favorite scene was watching Jack White construct a guitar with an old board, a Coke bottle and a guitar string.  (Oh come on, click the link, it's not even two minutes long.)


In keeping with our enjoyment of watching art being created, we recently discovered Face Off on the SciFi channel.  (The link is for episodes on Hulu and probably will not be good for more than a few weeks.) This eight-part series is a contest, in the vein of Project Runway, for special effects make-up artists.  I find it fascinating that each of these people are so talented in several art disciplines, including building a concept, sculpting, painting, and also textiles.  We have let our kids watch some pieces of this show, after we have watched it first.  The finale is next Wednesday so jump on that! 

I hope you're inspired today.  Go make some art!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Homemade Bread

Today, I made the Basic Hearth Bread from The Bread Bible.  Apparently I have a few things to learn about yeast and / or altitude.  Despite the non-rise fail, my kids ate it up and asked to have this kind of bread all the time.  We are working on making more food thanks to that book I'm reading and never post about.  (One of these days, a book post.)  What I like about The Bread Bible is that it is so comprehensive, you will really know every aspect of bread making, once you read it.  The thing I don't like is, it is so comprehensive, it will take a long time to read it, and sort out what I want to do.  The bread tasted great, however the outside was veeeerrrrry crunchy.  I guess no one minded! 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

George

My neighbor, George, died last week. I didn't know him that well, but by all accounts he was a wonderful person. I had the privilege of attending his funeral on Friday. George and his wife both served in WWII and he was buried with military honors.

9259 flag on casket


On behalf of a grateful nation, we present to you this flag of the United States of America, as a token of our appreciation for the faithful and honorable service rendered by your father.
9324 thanks

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Successful Hunt

I was mostly successful with the photo scavenger hunt.  There are some subjects I had a hard time get a pleasing picture of but I had a deadline, so here are my final pictures: 

a bridge

something with stripes

a musical instrument

a big lorry/truck
I had to look up 'lorry' to make sure I knew what we were talking about.  I have lots of pictures of trucks, none that I really liked, this one was... not the worst. 

round clock face
We actually have a round clock in our house, but it's kinda boring.  As we were driving through the Hill area of Boulder I spotted this and insisted that BFJ pull over.  We actually had a nice little adventure, exploring a nearby skateboard shop, and getting some drinks.  I thought the boys were all going to go for hot cocoa but instead they had italian sodas. 

'your shoes'
I am not really a shoe person.  I love shoes, but it's just too expensive a hobby for my lifestyle.  If I had the shoes of my dreams, I would get some Fluevogs, like the Mollie Johnsons, or some three-buckle boots.


park bench

a newspaper headline
A lot of other hunters have more timely headlines, but we don't get the big local paper.  We get the little local paper. 

a 'post box'

eyes
I found these in a drawer of my great-grandmother's Singer. 

something heart shaped

something red

To see the whole set of everyone's pictures you can go to the Flickr group page here