Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

And the World Continues Turning

August 12, 2014


Hey there. I’d ask you how you’re doing, but you’re a website that just hangs out, and this conversation is entirely one-sided. But that haircut is fabulous, dear. Just superb. Sooooo, a number of big things have changed since we last spoke!

That new house I had mentioned moving into? Well, we did, with the help of a diverse group of friendly people armed with high fives and arms around boxes and toasts of cold beers. That little house we moved into has proven to be better than we anticipated. The backyard we initially viewed under a blanket of snow? Best thing about the place. We’ve planted all types of veggies and fruits there (with some help of our next door landlord/master gardener) and I’m currently buried in produce that I’m trying to preserve/can/dry/soak in alcohol as fast as my free time allows. Plus the adjacent patio is the ideal entertaining/happy hour location, and we’ve been soaking up sun, fun, conversation, and contemplation in that little spot as much as possible.

Surprisingly, this is BEFORE the garden went nuts. Now you can't even see that trellis with all the tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and zucchini that are snaking their way through it..

Surprisingly, this is BEFORE the garden went nuts. Now you can’t even see that trellis with all the tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and zucchini that are snaking their way through it..

The previously mentioned next door landlords? Oh, are they the definition of Good People. They built us raised beds filled with the best soil. They tore down an old shed and built a new one, stocked with all the yard and garden care equipment we could need. They’ve had us over for cocktails in their beautiful and immense backyard, and they shared their family’s Easter feast with us. They’ve introduced us to a bunch of other really super nice neighbors. Heck, they even waved me over one Sunday morning and gave us a couple of freshly made crepes stuffed with fresh crab and topped with creme fraiche. Truly, truly great, generous people. Our hesitations about living next to landlords are gone.

A big change is that I am no longer driving 120 miles a day to a job marketing tasty craft beer. It had been a long and emotionally tolling job search.

(A quick aside with a few examples of that endeavor… I was a final candidate four or five times over the course of 18 months. I was offered a very mediocre [but well paying] job marketing a product in which I had no interest… that I turned down. I did a shit-ton of research on every place that I applied and produced detailed, personalized cover letters over and over and over again, oftentimes to no response and no avail. One snowboarding clothing company VP had me write an after-interview essay on digital marketing strategies, and after I sent it to him I never heard from him or the company again. Trust me, the list goes on.)

I loved the brewery, loved the product, loved the people, loved the place. Still do! But it wasn’t working for where I wanted to go and where I want to be. When I was offered the new gig of being a full time designer for a wholesale home decor company, I bid a friendly adieu, toasted a few pints with coworkers, exchanged a couple tears with my boss, and very amicably parted ways.

This is my first time being a 100% designer (no hyphenated job titles or duties for this gal!) and it’s already been so exciting. Skills are improving, influences are growing, confidence is… biggening. Biggening? Getting bigger. Broadening. See? I’ve stopped including “copywriter” in my job description and look how my vernacular has languished.

In the three months I’ve been there I’ve already traveled to Memphis and Atlanta, and will likely head to China sometime within the next six months. One of the neatest aspects is seeing conceptual products that I’ve roughly illustrated or patched together in Photoshop turn into real, three-dimensional products that don’t look like utter crap! I’m not diminishing my skills with that statement, it’s just amazing to see something I once considered a hobby, an afterthought, not even my major, turn into a full-fledged career that produces items that people will purchase and give meaningfully to friends or bring out each holiday.

Go to Memphis for the first time? End up in a "Who's Who of Memphis" magazine.

Go to Memphis for the first time? End up in a “Who’s Who of Memphis” magazine.

We’re midst a summer that’s already been a busy whirlwind, and as per usual I’m already bemoaning the oncoming fall. I haven’t gotten enough of a tan yet, haven’t jumped into enough swimming holes, haven’t napped outdoors, haven’t played enough. The weekends are quickly filling up and still it feels like not enough time before the rains return and I can’t comfortably drive around with the windows down.

That all being said, life is darn peachy right now and I couldn’t complain a bit.


Breakin’ it on Down

April 23, 2012

This past weekend was a sunny whirlwind of activity. From wine bars and strip clubs to family dinners and lunch with friends, a wedding, a makeover, baby nephew jostling and gardening in rare 80 degree April heat, I’m left exhausted on this Monday morning. Here’s a breakdown:

Plants planted: gladiolas, ranunculus, poppies, sunflowers, and freesia in a new garden bed I made around where we had buried Rose the chicken. In the veggie garden (now with our homemade compost mixed in, thanks to Sean) I planted purple pole beans. Other vegetable seed plantings were abandoned due to late-in-the-day exhaustion and justified wariness of sunburn.

Number of former sorority sisters seen at my college roommate’s wedding: ten

Number of strippers seen at Union Jacks: we lost count. Twenty? Twenty five? There were enough lingering about to make the place seem more like a brothel than a strip club. Also, one bit me. I worried about potential hepatitis contraction.

Number of glasses of champagne/sparkling wine consumed throughout the day on Saturday: five. Maybe six. Between my wedding hair and makeup trial at my mom’s (attended by my sister, grandmother, future mother-in-law and nephew) and the aforementioned wedding that night, I fulfilled my imaginary month’s champagne quota easily.

Number of couples that have broken up since we sent out our save the date announcements (as of this weekend), addressed to them as a couple: five

Number of insect stings: one

Number of times I kissed my nephew before he and my sister went back to Canada this morning: too many to count

Bonus wedding hair and makeup photos! The makeup is perfect; I think it will be exactly like this on the big day 4 months from now. The hair wasn’t nearly as big as I am shooting for, and we’re going to have another hair trial in the near future to achieve my ideal giant-Brigitte-Bardot-updo look.

I'm still wearing those false eyelashes today at work. Monday glam!

I also purposefully timed the hair and makeup trial to be the day of my friend’s wedding so I could at least have an already made up face for the occasion. Since the hair didn’t turn out as I plan it will on the wedding, I just kept that in and threw on a dress for the occasion.

Both the makeup and hair held up wonderfully through a warm day of eating, drinking and dancing.

Side note: I definitely had bright yellow vinyl pumps I thrifted to match that belt.

Another side note regarding tinyfication: while I’m (again) roughly still the same weight as I was back in January (when I last tried on my wedding dress), putting it on with hair, makeup and veil on Saturday revealed that I will definitely have to take it in before August 25th.  Timeline shows I have 2 more months or so to get smaller before stopping entirely and maintaining weight for the sake of dress alterations. I have photos of from the entire look this past weekend, but am not making those public for the sake of surprise. Also, Sean will read this and he would be so pissed if he accidentally saw me in my dress ahead of time. It’s adorable. HI, DEAR!

Tabs on Tabs

February 9, 2012

Tabs Currently Open on My Multiple Web Browser Windows

  • 6 tabs related to work (our website, the back end of our website, sites for events we’re sponsoring, beer reviews)
  • 4 tabs related to honeymoon location research (2 for the hotel we’re considering, 2 on the bounty of rad outdoor activities in that area of Sardinia)
  • 2 tabs for social media (Facebook and Twitter, obvs. Accounts regularly switching between my own, my work’s, and the company for which I freelance)
  • 2 tabs for email (Hotmail [since ’95, yo] and Gmail)
  • 1 tab on container gardening
  • 1 tab for my dear, sweet Google Calendar
  • 2 tabs for taking a survey that in turn will generate airmiles for aforementioned honeymoon
  • 1 tab for my freelance company’s website
  • 1 tab for directions to the beach house in Long Beach, Washington that we’re going to this weekend
  • And surprisingly, NOT a tab for Google Reader. Because I’m trying to be productive.

Things I Learned This Week

February 7, 2012

With an ever-decreasing attention span thanks in majority to modern technology, I absorb a lot of little, interesting tidbits over the course of a week. Facts, thoughts, things of note, glimpses into something deeper. I feel like dispelling these in one place, all at once, might be useful at least to myself. Like I’m puking up my short term memory. “My, but that’s what Twitter is for!” you declare. Well, yes, asshole, I guess you’re right. Shhhhh… Let me play around with writing formats, okay?

  • My faith in Sean as a coach increases. Not only is he coaching our friend Nicole in self-defense/murder before she jaunts off to Turkey and Jordan for weeks, but he also somehow convinced me to run the 8K leg of next month’s Shamrock Run. Now, I used to jog on a regular basis. In fact it was my principal workout several years ago. I loved taking a run along the Columbia River in The Dalles or up through blossoming cherry orchards on winding country roads. With a good playlist, I just kept going. Then family genetics caught up with me, as all the women in my family said it would, and my knees cried for a ceasefire. I stopped, and since then haven’t really done much else in terms of running beyond sprints and occasionally jogging a bit to warm up before another workout. But the fact that Sean will be there beside me (you will, right honey? Please??? Shit.), encouraging me, telling me I’m kicking ass, just like he always is when we workout together, makes it seem a million times more doable. He is the only guy I’ve dated with whom I actually enjoy exercising. He makes me test my limits and push myself further, but safely. He knows I can do it and tells me as such. For that, I thank you dear.
    Now, to pull out my knee high, bright green socks emblazoned with the word BEER on each leg and get this thing done.
  • Stinky, sulfur-rich veggies (onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts) are super good for you. I vaguely knew that taking the extra effort to chop up an onion and add it to a recipe was worth it for reasons beyond just taste. Here’s a great article why.
  • Fashion blogs and Pinterest are simultaneously helping and not helping my wardrobe. Pro: I’m thinking of new, fun ways to combine and wear pieces that I already own. Con: I want to buy, buy, buy. Which is bad in itself, but considering I’m also changing dress sizes regularly (I went down two sizes in a little over four months and am now the smallest size I’ve ever been as an adult), it’s just impractical. It’s bad enough I’m buying 1-2 pairs of (cheap!) jeans in each size with which to just get by.
  • My dear friends in Florida won’t be making it to our August wedding, but for the best reason possible: baby #2 is due right around then. Sad I won’t be able to see them for the first time in 5 years, but very, very happy for them and their growing family. I said it’s okay as long as the baby is named after me. Stephanie for a girl, Stephen for a boy.
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race is so, so great. Photo shoots + costume design + fashion show + lip synching to the death + queens = I want to watch this all day, every day.
  • Figuring out how to utilize our accumulated air miles for our Italian honeymoon is really confusing. I’d elaborate further, but that sentence trumps any explanation simply due to gross FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.
  • Stripping my diet to almost all unprocessed basics has caused me to look at holistic versions of a lot of things in my life. And whenever I flirt with the concepts of holistic medicine, I think of this and wise up:
    Toothpaste for Dinner - I Hate Modern Medicine
  • Another experienced climber dies on Mt. Hood. It goes to show you that even something that is climbed as often as Hood can be unpredictable and dangerous. Kind of like the time I was coming down from its summit and a giant chunk of ice almost took out my head. Scary stuff.
  • According to the new and improved USDA Plant Hardiness Map, my little corner of Portland is Zone 8b: 15-20F. I’m coming down with a touch of my annual eeeeeeeeeeeeee!spring-is-coming fever, and have already started brainstorming this year’s garden. Considering I’ve gardened in something like a desert for the past several years, I’m very much looking forward to a whole season in this “new” climate.


On Chickens, Death and Dahlias

June 24, 2011

In relation to my last post, I finally bought plants from someone on Craigslist. Tubers for 5 different types of gorgeous dahlias for only $2 each.  I ordered 2 of each, and in a stunning moment of math skills, gave the woman only $10 in front of her adorable family in their lovely home as they were cooking dinner. I don’t think she noticed until after I left, and I only realized it an hour later. Ridden with guilt I emailed her the next day, apologizing profusely, she thanked me for my honesty and I mailed her the other $10.

Also, we sadly lost one of our chickens a couple weeks ago. Sean was home for a week on bereavement leave after his beloved grandfather passed away (obviously, a much, much sadder event than losing a chicken, and a whole other story that isn’t much of mine to tell), and had just battled a horrendous bout of traffic while running errands on the other side of the city. He came home, looked outside, and there was Rose, our friendliest and most social chicken who loved to be petted, tipped over on her back, feet in the air, dead. Considering he’s had to deal with only one pet death in his life, and he was already pretty emotionally stressed, he was very bummed.

I was bummed too, and even more so when I had to call our landlord, who had owned Rose for 2 years before we had her. She was pretty upset, but after I explained the situation (her cluck had been raspy a week or two leading up to her untimely demise, but her activity level was absolutely normal and peppy, and we did everything we could), she understood.

Then… Then!

She wanted me to pluck memorial feathers off of Rose. You know, the chicken that’s been dead in a bag for 24 hours.  I mean, I felt bad so of course I did it, and afterward I didn’t feel as bad for her loss anymore because THAT WAS VERY, VERY DIFFICULT. In retrospect, pliers would have been handy, but damn, 5 feathers was all I could muster, both physically and emotionally. Who plucks or skins a deceased pet? Props to generations of people who’ve plucked many a chicken for the sake of sustenance. Sweet chicken jesus.

Craigslist Plant Nurseries

May 31, 2011

Inevitably at the beginning and end of the work week I find myself compulsively opening a browser tab to Craigslist to scour ads for free or relatively cheap plants. Why? I don’t know, but in college my roommate Gina and I had to regularly restrain ourselves from buying a plethora of plants for our apartment. It’s a persistent condition, apparently.

The variance in commercial plant pricing combined with my aforementioned thriftiness and love for CL sends me to its pages looking for a deal. The Free and Farm+Garden sections have always been recently clicked. The latter of which inevitably leads me down paths where I ponder things like, “What IF we had more chickens? The city permit is only $33…” to “Baby Bunnies for $3!?! Look how cute they are! I could get a bunny! It could live with the chickens! Wait… I don’t really like bunnies. Hm…” or “Goats! Look at the goats! It could live with the chickens and eat all our weeds! Ohhh… I think they poop a lot.” Now that Sean knows that these thoughts run through my head, he’s going to live in constant fear that he’ll come home to more pooping butts around our urban homestead. Plants are much easier to justify.

My Free/Cheap Craigslist Plant Requirements are as follows:

  • Must be somewhat near where I live or commute. I’ve seen some awesome deals on free plants (that I actually want) from the other side of town. While I would love to take advantage of them, I know full well that after driving 2 hours a day, battling city traffic for a few plants is not worth it.
  • Must be better pricing than I’ve seen in local nurseries or stores. It’s not worth the effort if it ain’t a deal.
  • Must not be a giant “U dig” shrub. A free rhododendron bush? Oh, but it’s 6 feet tall and wide and requires back breaking labor, a pickup truck and an awkward amount of time spent in a stranger’s yard. I’m not that desperate.

Confession: despite my list of requirements, I still have not taken advantage of a single plant from Craigslist. I’ve written out several post-its worth of plant lists and the contact information of strangers and have yet to follow through with a single one.

What Keeps Me From Yet Buying Plants from People on Craigslist:

  • Laziness.
  • Lack of cash on hand.
  • Lack of wanting to write a check with my home address on it for $5 worth of plants.
  • Timing. Can I pick it up on my way home from work? Will the plants still be available on the weekend? What if I drive all the way there only to find the plants are gone?
  • What if these people are weirdos?

That all being said, if you have plants you’d like to rid yourself of, and you might fit the above requirements, let me know. PLEASE.

On the other side…

May 9, 2011

… Of the Cascades, of The Dalles, of Hood River, of moving out of my house, of becoming a landlord… I have officially lived in Portland for a month now, with the vast majority of the recent stress and madness is in the rear view.


The months leading up to the move were painful, and while it hasn’t been peaches and cream since then (such as an ant infestation and the water heater dying within the first week my tenants moving in, and our dryer at the new place dying within the first week), the peace of coming home to this other adorable little house with my boyfriend, three cats, and now three chickens mitigates all of the stress.

Sure I now commute 2 hours every day and live in a more dreary climate (most depressing spring EVAR), but man, I dig it. The vicinity to everything happening in the city (such as the Timbers game the other night), the eclectic neighborhood, the amenities… hell, even going to the grocery store is a million times more fun because THERE ARE ACTUALLY ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE THERE. And people are fashionable! I know, I know. The Dalles is a fashion hub, what with its lone Maurice’s and the janky old JC Penney with the glory hole change rooms. But I actually see people who dress like I do! I don’t stand out like a sore thumb!

Did I mention the chickens? I love my chickens. Inherited with the house, our three hens are now named after the Golden Girls. Rose, the little red hen, is the most social and also the one who, up until we built them an enclosure, was most prone to wander the neighborhood. Ruth, the big sassy black hen, has the biggest mouth and will yell her little head off if the other two escape. Blanche is a orangey-buff hen with a black tail, and she’s the most reticent out of the girls. The first two will gladly stop, lower and flatten their backs to be pet. With Blanche it only happens every so often. But watching them take dirt baths or fight over worms or chase us around the yard is the most entertaining thing ever. I greet them every day by going out the backdoor and saying, “Hello ladies!” Barf-inducingly cute.

The cats have adjusted fairly well. The first few days were clearly traumatizing and I felt like an awful cat mom by moving them, but they’re tough. Even my nervous, anxiety-ridden cat hangs out in the open a million times more often than she used to, and has begun curling up with us every time we might sit down to watch TV.

And of course, living with Sean has been nothing short of great. For a guy who had only one pet growing up (a hamster named Jackie), he’s taken on caring for and cleaning up after 3 cats and 3 chickens remarkably well. SO MUCH POOP. But living with him has made the word home an entirely different thing, and we have the. best. time. together. Even chores are fun. It’s ridiculous.

After 5 weeks the house is almost completely decorated (quite sensationally so, if I do say so very biased myself), we’ve hosted a giant party and an intimate brunch, started cleaning up the yard and landscaping what will be an epic veggie garden, and have met a number of the neighbors. It feels so domestic. So idyllic. So nice.

Photo of the Day: Fifty-Eight

May 7, 2009

I told you my backyard was overgrown. Hopefully we will be taking care of that on this upcoming sunny and warm weekend.

When I got home from work I came out back to see the wisteria blooms before they started falling off. It ended up being a 15 minute playing in the tall grass and weeds photo session with my cats. You can just tell how excited they are when I come outside for the season and actually *play* where they hang out all the time. They even show off. Merlot was racing up trees, Fabrizio was stalking Merlot in the grass… I took a ridiculous number of photos of them and the nicely lit vegetation.

The chairs you see below are a couple I salvaged and for which I have yet to paint and make new seats. They’ve been artistic additions in the unruly yard for a few months now.


Photo of the Day: Fifty-Six

May 5, 2009

It was just in recent days that with a heavy heart I came to the realization that I simply do not have the time or money for the vegetable garden I’ve been dreaming about since November. A year and a half ago I had removed (poorly, might I add) the scrabbly grass in my backyard and had planted a wayward, free-form veggie and herb garden. Things were going great until I was gone at a wedding for a week in late June, when the garden exploded and I never quite got caught back up with my weeding.

While it was rather unruly, it did produce some splendid tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, peas, beans, a plethora of lettuces and greens, squash, gourds, eggplants, strawberries, several mint varieties and one round pumpkin. There were failures in the brussels sprouts, corn, English cucumber, dill and garlic, but everything else handled pretty decently. My dreams for this year’s bounty grew with every page turned in seed catalogs.

But with the change of employment (and awkward financial standings after being unemployed for 5 weeks and then working for meager pay at a temp job for 7) and now spending 75% of my weekends in Portland with my hairier half, the garden simply isn’t plausible. Sadness.

In the meantime I’ll put what focus I can spare on my front yard, which is mostly ornamental flowers and shrubs, such as this allium in half bloom. I couldn’t wait until it was a full, spherical puff ball of purple before snapping this.


Now the dilemma remains: what to do with the backyard that is quickly turning into a lush forest of green grass (I told you I didn’t get rid of it all), weeds, and the few perennial plants when I simply don’t have time to maintain it? Advice, ideas…? HELP!

Photo of the Day: Day Forty-One

April 20, 2009

The tulips are in bloom! Now only if I had more than the single blooms spaced 9 inches apart along the length of my flower beds…

I like my tulips to be primarily in primary colors.

I like my tulips to be primarily in primary colors.