April 26, 2012


Top: Everything in it's right place. It's obvious a Virgo gardens here.

Middle: The garlic has gone apeshit. All five cloves fought through two inches of dirt and are all about five inches tall, a measly eight days after I planted them. I hope they produce some of these delicious scapes everyone keeps talking about.

Bottom: For documentation purposes only, a "before" shot of the third plot, henceforth known as the "overflow plot."

Yes - a third plot. An overrun raised bed that runs along the (east) side of our house. I keep saying - out loud, so it stays true - that we won't look after this one as much. That we'll just turn over the (pretty poor) soil, sprinkle some flower seeds (nasturtium, morning glory, and some snowy ground cover that I forget the name of), and let it run wild. That much has already been done. And maybe, maybe if there are seedlings that have no where else to be transplanted, they can be tucked in somewhere and watered semi-regularly. And yet. Micah has already put in a handful of sunflower seedlings. I've already scoped out the area in the foreground (where the brick edge dips down) to clear out and dedicate to tomatoes that are already outgrowing their pots.

I know. First-time gardeners! We've created a monster. Or rather - three monsters.

But I'm enjoying it so much. I love coming home for lunch and weeding, then returning to my desk with dirt under my fingernails. Watering everything when I get home for the day. Noting changes. Re-adjusting plans. Hanging out in the yard with a beer on weekend days, comparing notes with Micah. The other day, he joked that at times, he forgets we're getting produce out of this at some point. I think that's when you know you're having fun. The journey becomes the destination. Or something Zen like that.

April 25, 2012


I recently made some more peanut butter ice cream. Couldn't help it. Had to be done. It's so easy to make, and so peanut-buttery. I've wanted to make some more of that amazing chocolate ice cream too, but damn, it's as time-consuming and finicky as the peanut butter one is easy (which is, of course, also part of the reason why I love it).

And so, the above abomination happened.

I supplement my raging ice cream habit with store-bought versions all the time. Can't help it. Has to be done. Usually some simple flavor that can be jazzed up and take my mind off of the fact that it's not homemade. Some versions are of a higher quality than others. So when I made peanut butter ice cream, I was like, "Oh snap. Store-bought chocolate is a no-brainer. It'll be just like combining the peanut butter ice cream with the sexy I'm-too-lazy-to-make-it-myself chocolate ice cream. Hard work averted. Mental self-high-five!"

The chocolate ice cream is fine on it's own. Really, it is. But when combined in equal proportions with the peanut butter ice cream... it's sad. Too light, hollow-tasting, weak. But what a good idea, right? Peanut-butter-cup sundae? I thought so.

Now, I use the chocolate ice cream as filler. Yeah. I put a scoop of it down as a base, then hide that scoop with an equal scoop of the peanut butter. That way the peanut butter hits all my taste buds first, covering the sad, spineless chocolate chaser. And the best part? It makes the peanut butter ice cream last longer.

Or rather, made it last longer. Because as much as I'm pseudo-complaining and belittling this, I've been eating it for dessert on the daily for the last week and a half. And now it's all gone.

Couldn't help it.

April 24, 2012


Above: A tiny, pretty, free bouquet of buttercups from the yard. For me, The Never-Ending Edit means constantly re-evaluating whether your stuff is useful, beautiful, or crap, but it also means being open to usefulness and beauty in things that are more often overlooked.

This morning, I put out three bag-piles for pick-up donation to the VVA. Dresses that I haven't worn in a year or two, semi-formal shoes that just aren't me anymore, books that I like but don't love, a few purses, the toaster (finally), and the percolator. (We jumped on the French-press-at-home bandwagon a few weeks ago - the size is more appropriate for our use, and it just makes me feel cool to use it, like I'm on vacation in Paris or something, but all the time, and in my own home. Dreamings.)

Micah even threw in some bulky pieces of luggage and a plastic laundry basket! So proud.

I also packed all my winter coats, scarves, gloves and bulkier sweaters into big plastic bins and shoved them in the back of my closet. The Never-Ending Edit always jump-starts me on other little domestic chores/projects like that - I'm so high on the cleansing effect of the donation that I end up roving through the rest of the house, just looking for something else to clean/throw away/repurpose/feel superior about. I'm telling you - it's addictive.

April 23, 2012


Above: Saturday's breakfast. I'm calling it the Breakfast Burger. Breakfast sausage patty on a yeast roll with melted Camembert, caramelized onions, an over-easy egg, hot pepper jelly, chopped roasted tomatoes and garlic, and green onions. The fork and knife proved unnecessary. Probably my favorite Weekend Breakfast to date. Hot damn.

Sunday's breakfast was a toasted bagel and cream cheese with coffee from Starbucks - we went to the mall in Raleigh as early as possible to beat the rush, and I refuse to shop without a solid carb base.

This weekend worked (see previous post). On Saturday I took a nap for the first time in forever, and tended Englewood Gardens. We're having a few frosty nights this week, so I'm putting off thinning seedlings until after they hopefully survive that.

Also, just so you know, tonight is World Book Night. Celebrate accordingly. I'm currently rereading A Clash of Kings (in conjunction with finishing Season 1 of Game of Thrones), and I'm always open to must-read recommendations.

April 20, 2012


Above: An outtake from our Easter visit to Duke Gardens. Strong lines, bright colors, good times.

Tonight I'm having Yay-You-Got-A-Job drinks at my favorite wine bar with friends. I've carefully avoided any obligation for Saturday and Sunday. Micah and I both need some serious recharge time, and we've got a bit of an adventure planned for next weekend, so this is the only quiet one we'll be able to have for awhile. I'm thinking about thinning my seedlings, and finding room for two tomato plants that are already outgrowing their pots (and flowering!).

April 18, 2012


Sometimes, you just need dessert. NOW. And you don't have the patience (or resources) to hunt down a recipe, nevermind going out to procure any ingredients you need to complete said recipe.

Sometimes, you just need to make shit up and see what happens.

All that to say, there's no recipe for what you see above. Technically, they're peanut butter cookies. So, a lot of peanut butter, some sugar, maybe an egg, a little flour. Oh - and this shows my complete baking ignorance but whatever - I have no idea what the difference is between baking powder and baking soda, so I added a little of both. A touch of homemade vanilla extract. I rolled them into balls, covered them in sugar, and smashed them down onto the pan with a fork. I only baked them for like 7 minutes - juuuust until they looked alllmost done - then added shards of leftover dark chocolate (from those strawberries we had at Easter) to melt on their tiny, Frankenstein heads.

Sometimes, making shit up as you go along pays off. In life, and more importantly, in cookies.

These were impossibly soft and light, even after they had cooled, and especially considering how little flour was included. They tasted like "real" cookies, you know? Which, on one hand, makes me regret not paying more attention to what I was doing when I was so haphazardly throwing them together, because now they'll never be exactly re-creatable. But, on the other hand, has emboldened me to make more shit up and see what happens.

April 17, 2012


Top: The north plot. This is what it looked like two weeks ago.

Middle: Beet sprouts. I love that they're already bright fuschia.

Middle: I'm planting five sprouted garlic cloves on a whim. Why not?

Middle: Potted arugula, take two. So I can have a never-ending supply.

Bottom: Herb redux. See below.

Both plots, overall, are coming along nicely. Micah's beans have gone apeshit. Everything in the north plot has sprouted and is 0.5 - 1" tall.

A few slight setbacks: the summer squash fell to borers; we bought seedlings at the farmer's market last weekend and have already replanted. Some of my cilantro fell after the late frosts we got last week; I've already reseeded (I'm taking my own advice about planting herbs and direct-sowing this time). I'm thinking of them less as setbacks and more as learning experiences; we're just kind of rolling the dice this year, and seeing what does well and what doesn't.

April 16, 2012


Top: The Beermosa at Dain's. Allagash White Ale topped with fresh orange juice. We returned for brunch on Saturday, and I knew I had to try it to continue my ongoing quest to sample (and catalog) every beer/citrus combination in the entire world. It did not disappoint. White/wheat ales are perfect with orange juice - as would any beer you would naturally garnish with an orange slice. And it didn't hurt that it was waaaay stronger than what I'm used to in manmosas. Cheers.

Below: Sunday's breakfast. Cinnamon-y banana pancakes with a fried egg and a side of strawberries.

I would like to call attention to my first official use of produce from my garden - the chocolate mint garnish on the strawberries. Yes. Prolific, I know. But I've got to start somewhere.

April 12, 2012


I'm a big fan of roasting stuff. It's so easy, and I've yet to find a vegetable that it doesn't improve.

These grape tomatoes were starting to get wrinkly and sad. CRISIS. So I cut them all in half, threw in some whole garlic cloves for good measure, tossed everything in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and threw the pan in the oven at a low temperature (325ยบ, maybe?) for about an hour and a half (larger tomatoes would take longer, though).

Out came magic. Crisis averted.

April 11, 2012


DVD cases suck. They do. They take up a disproportionate amount of space relative to the thing they're storing (the DVD itself), and they're a bit of an eyesore.

So... I was cleaning house the other day, was dusting around them, and hating having to do that, when I automatically started applying The Awesome Test. And guess what? They failed. So I got rid of them. Everything you see above is now out of my house and my life forever. I struggled a bit with some of the TV series - the packaging for the first season of Mad Men that's shaped like a lighter was pretty cool. But that's not why I bought it. I bought it for the first season of Mad Men. Which I still have, minus a few extra square inches of plastic crap.

Now all my DVDs are stored in a single black leather CD case I had from back when I had tons of CDs. (You know, until I had another minimalism seizure and threw those away too.) It's amazing how much space this little cleanse has freed up. Maybe a small step in the grand scheme of things, but it's a lot in the 650 sq. ft. we're working with, and a giant leap for The Never-Ending Edit.

(This little episode also inspired me to start another donation bag(s) for VVA. Indeed, the edit never ends...)

April 10, 2012


I never really expect much from Easter, except maybe some chocolate, but... this Easter was easily the best Easter I've ever had.

We started at Duke Gardens (top two photos). It was packed - apparently it is the place to take an Easter portrait of your children - but we managed to find a perfectly shady spot on the bottom of a slope from which to take it all in. We ate homemade chocolate-covered strawberries and watched little kids fall on their faces.

Then we drove downtown, parked, and walked to the beautifully restored Carolina Theatre (middle two photos) to watch a matinee of The Godfather (part 1, natch). We drank beers and had a running commentary on the characters. We ended up skipping out about an hour early (hey - that movie is three hours long!) and walking around trying to find a place to eat...

...which was starting to look a bit bleak, until we stumbled upon Dos Perros (bottom two photos). We sat outside, ordered some beer and a slew of appetizers, and pretended that all the buildings in sight were full of lofts. Would we live there? How about there? All in good fun.

Oh - and he got me a chocolate mint plant, and even potted it for me. So perfect.

It'll be fun to try and top this next year.

April 9, 2012


Top: Saturday's breakfast. Caramelized apple french toast with scrambled eggs and bacon. The perfect balance of sweet and savory.

Middle and bottom: Sunday's breakfast. Biscuits and gravy with an egg, sunny-side-up. Classic Micah.

I was in Virginia most of last Thursday and Friday art-directing a television shoot (hence the lack of posting). It's something I've started to do a little more of lately, and while I find it thrilling, I'm also completely exhausted by the end of them. Being out of one's comfort zone for long periods of time will do that. But I can feel myself growing and learning, so it's worth it.

Anyway, when I was reaching the end of the day, and starting to wilt a bit, I started to think about the upcoming weekend. The light at the end of the tunnel. Pinching weeds in the garden(s). Watching Game of Thrones. Establishing some new Easter traditions with Micah. It helped me power through the end of the shoot, and the 3.5-hour drive home.

More on those new Easter traditions tomorrow.

April 4, 2012


Top: Me and Rosemary. I like to show the plants my feet tattoos, so they'll think I'm more adept with flora than I really am.

Middle: The spearmint sprouts lag behind. I've heard their harvests are pretty prolific though, so I remain hopeful and patient.

Middle: The bell pepper seedling aspires to greatness.

Middle: We had one last (hopefully) frost warning a few days ago, and I covered the herb clusters with drinking glasses to create mini-greenhouses. They worked beautifully. Except on the basil cluster I forgot to cover.

Bottom: The secondary/northern plot. I can't believe we have multiple plots. We now refer to the plots collectively as "Englewood Gardens" (Englewood is the name of the street we live on). It must be said in a pompous English accent. Also, I'm pretty proud of that path - I made it out of a pile of broken bricks that was making a corner of our backyard look bad. It gives me easy access to all the rows, and to the garden hose. Triple-win.

The last time we went to Home Depot to get more soil, there happened to be a 50% off sale on all their veggie and herb seedlings, so... yeah. I'd say our garden is about half from seedlings, half from seed. It will be interesting to see what thrives and what doesn't.

Here's the roster so far: bush beans, jalapeno, poblano, and bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes (regular-sized and cherry), green onions and okra are in the primary/southern plot. Summer squash, green onions (yes, more of them), beets, Swiss chard, cilantro, basil and rosemary are in the secondary/northern plot. Arugula, lavender, spearmint and two tomatoes will be potted (though I'm considering finding little niches for the tomatoes around the yard).

I think I've already learned one lesson: sow herb seeds wherever they're going to stay. Since they're so delicate, they're a bitch to transplant successfully. The spearmint sprouts are still in their starter pods, and remain adorably, infuriatingly tiny after almost three weeks. I look at them and lament how long it will take to grow enough for mojitos (life is hard). I might supplement them with a seedling of a different variety - maybe lemon mint, or chocolate? Does anyone have a favorite mint variety that I just have to grow?

April 3, 2012


Warning: food porn ahead.

Top: Slathering hot pepper jelly on the piping hot cream biscuits. I love how he has all his ingredients laid out neatly on the cutting board. Best sous-chef ever.

Middle: Positioning the fried egg-hat on top of the breakfast sausage and queso fresco crumbles.

Bottom: Spooning on the caramelized onion frosting.

Micah always tries to add some extra veggies to my Egg Piles. He's a keeper, that one.

April 2, 2012


Top (not pictured): Saturday's breakfast. We went to Dain's Place - a great bar that has recently begun serving Saturday brunch, and is now my favorite place in Durham to eat it. The menu changes about monthly, and this time featured - wait for it - something called a "beermosa." Yes! I am all about endless variations of this.

Bottom: Sunday's breakfast. Egg Piles. A fresh biscuit topped with hot pepper jelly, queso fresco, spinach, breakfast sausage, a fried egg, and caramelized onions. Micah keeps trying to top himself with these. And keeps succeeding.

Update: See a sneak peak of the Weekend Breakfast process here.