Nostalgic Home

A Vintage View of Homekeeping

Bird Brain February 18, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Crafting,Garden,The Great Outdoors — LotusMama @ 9:03 am
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Robin

Originally uploaded by shorter.chip

I’ve had robins on the brain lately. It must be my impatience for spring because I’m definitely not a bird lover. But there is something about robins that I enjoy.

The robins that hang around in Washington don’t look like this fellow (at least not the ones I’ve seen). They are bigger, less “puff ball” shaped, and have a deeper red breast. I have to say I like this little guy better. I found him on flickr and I think he might have been photographed in Ireland.

So I’m keeping my eye out for signs of life and hoping some robins make their way to my yard. I’m planning on bringing some robin designs inside too, either with embroidery or photo transfers – something crafty, which hasn’t jelled in my mind yet.

Next time I’m at the store, I’ll find some of those blue-shelled malted balls that are already on the shelves for Easter and make some of these Robin’s Egg cookies.

Yep, definitely have some bird on the brain.

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My virtual garden January 16, 2009

Filed under: Garden — LotusMama @ 12:16 pm
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Like a lot of non-gardening type people, I really enjoy gardens. To look at, to walk through, to stop and linger over, but not necessarily to weed, to plant, to battle moles (don’t get me started on that) and so on.

I’m always impressed by good gardens and I always resolve to plant one. But somehow it doesn’t work out. I hope to someday break through my inertia and actually get one planted (one that survives anyway) – the same way I hope to break the inertia that keeps me from making a quilt.

I spent some time in the library Wednesday, browsing through landscape planning guides. We don’t have a huge backyard, but what we have is a big ole rectangle of nuthin – scabby grass mainly. I’d love to tear it mostly up, put in some flower beds, brick pathways and veggie trellises. Back as a kid, I always wanted an Elizabethan knot garden. For me now that seems far too constrained and regimented – I’m looking more toward a cottage garden with lots of color and mess and whimsy.

If I get off my duff this year and actually get a garden planned and planted, here are some of the things I’d like to put in:

anne_boleynroseThe “Anne Boleyn” rose (found here) because my obsession for this Tudor queen borders on psychopathic, but the flower is nice anyway.

hollyhocksHollyhocks (seeds found here) because I just love their towers of flowers.

hydrangeasHydrangeas (found here), especially the lovely bluish-purplish ones because they make me think of fairy tales, castles and all sorts of fantastic things.

lavender6Lavender (seeds found here) because I love the scent and would love to make some sachets or dried hangings with them. Maybe I’ll make it to the big lavender festival in Sequim, Washington this summer.

I suppose the time for planning this garden is now; figuring out how to tear up the grass, make the pathways, build up the flower beds, account for where the shade will fall, how water will get to the plants and on and on. It’s a daunting project for a non-gardener, but one that would make me very happy when it was done. So maybe 2009 is the year I get it going. If nothing else, it is fun to wander the virtual gardens and imagine the warming days of spring on a very cold and foggy January day.

 

Onions – better than ogres October 7, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Cooking,Garden,Hard Time Helpings — LotusMama @ 4:32 pm

For fans of the movie Shrek, you’ll know that ogres are like onions (they have layers). And you’ll also know that Shrek’s pal, Donkey, would much prefer parfait layers to onion layers. But these days, I’m with Shrek; onions are just delicious.

Allodoxaphobia I don’t have; I love onions in just about every form and variety. Cooked, raw, yellow, sweet, red, green. I also like them because you get a lot of flavor bang for your buck. Onions are typically inexpensive and can fill out a casserole, soup or meatloaf. But what about onions as the star attraction? Time for these wonders to take the spotlight, beyond the soup with the cheese and bread.

How about Sweet Onion Pie? True, cheddar and ham play a major supporting role here, but onions get top billing. Perhaps an Alsace Onion Tart, with bacon, cream and eggs would be better? Not exactly inexpensive. Ok, what about Sweet Onion Bread, using apple juice and ginger of all things? Maybe Sweet Onion Quesadillas would be more appealing. Me, I think I’m going with the Onion Muffuletta sandwich.

After all these onions, breath mints may be in order, but if you hang out with the right crowd, you can all be stinky together. Here’s to having layers.

 

Just a bit of harmless brain alteration, that’s all September 15, 2008

Filed under: Cooking,Garden,In Season — LotusMama @ 2:03 am


“Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” is one of my favorite movies. Maybe it is the new-school-but-it-looks-like-old-school claymation or the voice work of Ralph Fiennes, but something about that movie just tickles my funny bone.

So much so, that when I get a craving for Veg (vegetables for you non-anglophiles), I naturally think of the enormous specimens in the movie and the rabbit…err..rabid townsfolk that love them. Who wouldn’t love a pest control company called Anti-Pesto? I’m mean really, what’s better than that?

Ok, so this digression does have a point. For the last couple of days, my mind has become a “rabbity mush” as Wallace would say and I can’t stop thinking about fruits and veg. It started with a huge pot of corn chowder, with tons of fresh basil (the recipe is at one of my favorite blogs, Posy Gets Cozy) and moved on to a severe thirst for apple cider (see the earlier post about the doughnuts).

Today, at the store, I found myself strolling the produce section, lingering over the piles of peaches and stacks of squash. I came home with a huge bag of fuji apples and the blackest and biggest seedless grapes since a trip to Versailles. These local grapes were almost as good as those, albeit far less pretentious without the mini-berets and tiny cigarettes.

See? Mushy mind, for sure. AnyVeg, I finished my craving with a huge bowl of butternut squash soup, sprinkled liberally with Goldfish crackers. While hubby and NR scarfed down their homemade pizza, I slurped down the squashy soup. Something clearly must be amiss. Craving apples, eating veggies and dreaming of salad is not in my bunny nature, as it were.

Oh, I was going somewhere with this post…ah yes, the squash. I tried a pre-fab squash soup and it was pretty good, though fresh would have been (and will be) a lot better. I’m thinking of whipping up a batch, with a bunch of fresh sage and a drizzle of cream. Maybe a nice salad with cranberries, sunflower seeds and a poppyseed dressing to round things out. Hmmmm…sounds like I need to get down to the local farms and see what’s available.

Oh, right. The recipe. This is the one I’ll be tinkering with this week, with plenty of nutmeg and onion. Mmmmm…onions….

I guess there are worse cravings than vegetables. Like cupcakes, perhaps. Well, maybe carrot cupcakes wouldn’t be too bad.

 

Of Moles and Men (or how I lost my sanity) August 7, 2008

Filed under: Garden,The Great Outdoors,Ups and Downs — LotusMama @ 3:47 pm

*

The day we moved into the new house – the very day – molehills started appearing in the nice front lawn. Not just one, oh no, but several – every day. The absence of the realty sign must have given them a signal to go forth and destroy the lawn with their burrows and endless tunnels.

Every morning, I dutifully go out with a cardboard box and scoop up the dirt that the mole has expelled onto the lawn. I stuff some down the hole to close it up and give a little silent prayer to whomever is in charge of moles that these moles will move to the forest that is next door, literally, to my house.

Sometimes before the afternoon has even passed, there will be fresh holes in the lawn. Sometimes it takes until the following morning for the trail of molehills to wind through the grass.

Last week, I bought some mole repellent, which purports to drive them away with some scent they don’t like. The idea is that each day you sprinkle another section of the lawn and thoroughly water. By the end of day four, they have been driven off the land to less stinky pastures.

By day three, they had circled the mole wagons and were back at the beginning of the lawn, making three extra big hills, just to prove a point.

And that, ladies and moles, is when I went crazy. Spade carrying, hose toting crazy. I scooped up the dirt but left the holes open. I turned on the hose and gave a good long squirt of water into each hole, hoping that a sudden wave of water might run them out of town for good.

No hills this morning. Not yet. Sure, my grass looks like swiss cheese at the moment, but there are no new hills. If a new one pops, I’m going to be forced to get a trap. I hate to do it, really, but this can’t go on. I can’t let them destroy the front yard and that’s what they’ll do if I let them keep burrowing under the whole thing.

I’ve heard bubblegum down the holes works, as does human hair. I can just picture a new hill with hairy wads of pink bubblegum poking out of the top like some gummy mount vesuvius. I’ve tried those sticks that emit sounds with no result. I don’t want to use poison and the repellent did nothing. So that leaves traps. Unless, the sudden blast of water drove them out – at least for now. I’m sure this won’t be the last encounter with a mole.

I’ve read an awful lot of kids’ stories that have a Mole as a character (Wind in the Willows comes to mind) but somehow, I can’t quite picture our moles hunkered down in their burrow, smoking pipes and sporting tweed jackets. I’d be more inclined to take tea with them if they were.

UPDATE: A new molehill is now right next to the old hole that I flushed with water.

*Photo found at
this site. Shudder

 

Busy as a Bee, huh? May 7, 2008

Filed under: Garden,Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 7:44 pm


It’s fascinating how once you start thinking about something, you notice other things around you that you never saw before. Ever bought a car and suddenly that car is everywhere you go? Well, for me, bees are like that right now. A few days ago, I ran across a statistic that claimed 30% of all the bees in the world have disappeared in the last two years. Yep, the last two years. Poof. Now, I don’t know that statistic to be true, but I do know there was a rash of news articles in 2007 all claiming that the bees were in decline, mysteriously so. Some authors feared that cellular phones are to blame (they aren’t) or the rise of genetically altered crops, nicotine based pesticides (gee, tobacco could even be bad for bugs) or just a weakness in the genes of honeybees. Nobody knows for sure just why they are disappearing, abandoning their hives and their Queens, but everyone who has a stake in bees is concerned about it.

Ok, so I was reading about bees, then I happened to watch Bee Movie (with Jerry Seinfeld and Renee Zellweiger), which again stressed how important bees are for pollinating our lives. I’ve been painting some old furniture, trying to give it a new lease on life, and the pattern that I finally decided on for stenciling on a table top turns out to be a honey bee quilt block. My planned garden at the new house will be featuring sunflowers and lavender – two bee favorites, it turns out.

So, what does all this mean? Well, besides the obvious fact that I am easily obsessed with things, I think it means that bees have had an impact on humans for a long time. We eat their honey, we rely on them to pollinate crops, we take their likeness and incorporate it into our culture. In short, we dig Bees. Maybe not one-on-one, maybe not getting stung, but as a group, we think they are pretty nifty.

And so we should. Any critter that communicates through dancing can’t be all bad. Maybe a little Bee-In, a little Bee appreciation would convince these important insects to hang around. We could throw them a garden party, flowers served on our best china, with a seat reserved for their Queen.

Bee links for the curious:
Adopt a Hive in Maryland.
Bee friendly plants for your garden.
Handmade gifts and housewares celebrating Bees.
Recipes featuring Honey.

 

Gardening by the square January 22, 2008

Filed under: Garden — LotusMama @ 4:12 pm

I know that I’ve waxed poetic on enjoying the season, savoring what is happening now and not rushing on to the next thing, but in my heart, I’m wishing for Spring. Winter in the Northwest is dreary, bonechillingly dreary. It’s wet, it’s gray, it’s cold but not snowy (not here on the west side of the mountains). I’d like Spring to spring forth soon. I’m keeping vigil by planning a new garden.

I’m not a gardening type by nature. I hate weeding, digging, basically anything but smelling the flowers or eating the veggies. With that in mind, I’ve read about a method of gardening that supposedly reduces the need for a lot of the hard work that frankly I don’t dig (get it, dig?). Square Foot Gardening is the name, authored by Mel Bartholomew. I’ll be purchasing his book shortly but from what I’ve gleaned online, Mr. Bartholomew recommends preparing raised beds (4 feet by 4 feet) divided into one square foot sections. He recommends this to avoid digging and overplanting, which results in puny plants or thinning (more work). Weeding supposedly is minimal and depending on the height of the boxes you build, you can avoid stooping and killing your back. This gardening method is touted as offering more produce for less work, which is always what people want – more bang for less buck.

For those without gardening inclinations or limited space, you might want to consider whether a table top size garden would be a benefit to you. Fresh herbs, flowers, whatever rings your bell, are mighty nice. Mr. Bartholomew even recommends a soil mix that contains no dirt, so “clean” gardening is at hand apparently.

Anywho, I pass this on to those who might be curious about coaxing a little Spring into their lives early this year. Let’s hope the groundhog does his thing this year and the daffodils make an early return.