Monday, August 9, 2010

Project Summer

In 2003, we bought an ugly, neglected-but-with-good-bones 'repo' in a nice cul-de-sac. We have been working on it ever since.

The first tasks included removing/replacing the constantly running shower, scrubbing out the neglected-and-rusty bathtub, removing/replacing the rusted out toilets, and stripping layers of ghastly wallpaper. Then we painted. Anne was five and she wanted her bedroom to be pink, while eight year old Daniel wanted his bedroom to be 'Buzz Lightyear Blue'. In 2010, and no longer five years old, Anne has been wishing for a lime green bedroom...
...and a departure from the bunkbed the kids shared in our old house.
Anne's birthday was in May, and for her birthday we gave her a 'room redo'. We sold the bunkbed on Craig's List and she hunted Craig's List for the wooden bed she had in her mind's eye.....she found it!
We have been cleaning, organizing, and painting all summer. Last summer, El Professor broke his ribs, and the summer before that he had to study for, and add, an endorsement to his teaching certification. Much has gone undone, so this has been Project Summer.

I painted both kids' closets shiny, 'Swiss Coffee' white. We never did get the closets painted before the 2003 move in, and the dull-sea-foam-green 'ick' has finally been cleaned and covered!
As a part of her room redo, Anne wanted to get a desk. We were at the recycling center one day, and she found a desk for $5. It was a ghastly, mustard yellow behemoth that looked like it was straight from an episode of The Brady Bunch. But for $5, I figured it was worth the risk.

We set up shop in the cleaned out garage and primed over the mustard yellow...
...and painted it 'Fairy Tale Blue'. (A friend of hers helped with the process.)
The next step was tricky. Anne had the idea that she wanted to cover the desk with shiny, white flowers, but there was no stencil that captured the flower she had in mind. A mural painter at Michael's Craft Store picked up on our dilemma, and explained the process of graphite paper tracing and hand painting.
Project Summer is still underway and there is still much to do, but among the finished projects is a 'Fairy Tale Blue with shiny white flowers' desk in a lime green bedroom.
Project Summer has included much more than room redos, and it has been wonderful to circle the wagons and get some things done. I don't think our repo house will ever be done, but I am thankful for the opportunity to chip away at it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Using the Garden II

The plums are ripening....

...and the Gravenstein apples have been dropping.
Our last house was a rental and it was next door to the elderly owner/landlord. I learned a lot from her, including the fact that red-striped Gravensteins are wonderful, and that you should gather the funky windfalls and simply cut out the bad parts.
When we moved into our own house seven years ago, El Professor bought four apple trees at a local nursery. The tags had fallen off the trees and the trees could not be identified. The nursery sold them for $5/each. A few years later, as the trees began to produce, I was thrilled to find that two of them were red-striped Gravensteins! Yesterday, I filled a bowl with Gravenstein apple pieces mixed with plums. A bagful went into the freezer and the other portion became oatmeal apple-plum crisp.
The plethora of zucchini continues. Zucchini stir-fried in olive oil and garlic is good, and is even better topped with a little parmesan.
At the end of a day filled with garden bounty shredding/baking/cooking/drying , I baked chicken breasts in a baking dish with apple pieces, plum pieces, Walla Walla onion, and a drizzling of teriyaki sauce. Then, I served it over zucchini/pasta from lunch.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Using the Garden I

This morning I decided to take on the produce that has been piling up around here...

...Zucchini grated for the freezer to use in future zucchini bread or cake. Who knows??? Maybe I'll compost it next summer! :)
Low fat Weight Watcher's chocolate zucchini cake from a recipe I quadrupled and will freeze in pieces for the kids to have for quickie grab snacks....
If you're ever planning on being stranded on a desert island and can take a finite amount of survival things with you, consider zucchini or zucchini seeds. This 'caveman club' is from last summer!! A year later it is still hanging around our house.....
Zucchini thinly sliced and dehydrated with olive oil, glacial salt, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese.....
Zucchini bread from the Jane Brody cookbook.....
I also peeled and used up the windfall Gravenstein apples that were languishing in the backyard and some of the plums that are ripening daily. Now, what I really need to do is defrost the freezer to get ready for the bounty!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ignoring the Garden.....

It's the first of August, and the garden is beginning to crank out some excellent bounty. It's been a weird summer....
-It rained incessantly throughout the month of June.
-We have been busy organizing/painting/living/hiking/etc. and have been, other than some weed-pulling frenzied touch-ups, ignoring the garden.

We bought landscape fabric for the vegetable area to avoid our usual weed-choked, high maintenance routine, as well as to avoid the incidence of 'cat visitations'. It started out like this....
....and it has filled in nicely. It has been a fairly successful Ignored Garden.
The landscape fabric has been great for keeping weeds and cats out of the vegetables, but it has been a bit difficult to water and, despite the five-year 'promise', the stuff is beginning to deteriorate. Still, it has kept the weeds at bay while we have been working on other things.

This summer we have enjoyed a decent raspberry harvest,
the Gravenstein apples are beginning to fall, and we've had a small but steady supply of blueberries. The yellow plums are on the cusp of ripeness, the basil is ready for a pesto-fest, the cucumber plants are offering a steady supply, and the zucchini is CRANKING it out.....
Annie made this:
And I sliced zucchini and dehydrated it with olive oil, garlic and salt. Mmmm.
I'm off now to fuss a bit in the Ignored Garden. The tomato plants are insanely tall/full/overgrown/unproductive, and I'm going to do some selective pruning. Maybe after a bit of pruning followed by ignoring, I'll get some tomatoes.