August 24, 2011

Recipe: Blackberry Smoothie Served with a Purple Mustache

 I've been making the most out of the  black berries from the vines in the backyard.  Mostly I've been adding them to smoothies in the morning for breakfast.  They are fast and easy and very filling.  I add different ingredients depending on what is in the fridge.  For this one I used black berries, strawberries, a banana, a peach, a few scoops of ice cream, milk and Odwalla super food smoothie mix.  I usually just wing it when it comes to measurements, so add what ever you feel like.  Oz's niece and nephew were visiting last week and I made these smoothies for the kids and they loved them.  They got a little silly and ended up with smoothie mustaches on their faces.

 Oz with his nephew Dominic and niece Imani.

Imani with smoothie on her face!

August 18, 2011

Painting Projects and Window Display

Today we are putting the finishing touches on the new wall color in the greenhouse.  The greenhouse use to have black, green and brown beams on the ceiling and wooden posts that didn't match anything in the store.  The walls were painted white and were looking really dingy lately. This month we have been working hard along with our expert painter, Pat Chuinard, to make the greenhouse look stunning.  Earlier this spring we painted the plant benches from green to glossy black to make the plants pop against the backdrop.  Then we added a periwinkle blue wall and silver trim and accents on all the beams and voila! a new greenhouse.

The greenhouse before the makeover

The pottery wall.  Everything blended together
Brandy putting the first coat of blue on

Even the plants look good against the new color

The blue and silver coordinate really well together.  And now the pottery and even the fertilizer stand out from the wall.
In the front window of the greenhouse I have also been working on making a fun, end of season gift and plant display.  I moved a few bookcases in the greenhouse and a table with chairs and created a peaceful patio area.  I also made an autumn gnome tree and village and collected all of the gnomes in the store and let them bask in the summer sun in the greenhouse. Once we get more fall flowers and decor I will be adding more to the display and put in a fall harvest area with hay bales and pumpkins.

Come and have a seat in the patio area

I love using these bookcases for displays. Everything looks elegant against them.

Beautiful summer dishes

The gnome village

I used a plant stand as the base for my paper mache tree and strung some autumn colored garland on the top for foliage.

Peeking through the geraniums

Garden Journal: August 18th

A few weekends ago I decided to rip out some plants in one of the flower beds and start over.  The spot is the farthest part of the yard from the hose and it is too difficult to water so my plants before were dying from lack of hydration.  As you can see from the photo the lawn isn't doing so well either.  (This fall I am going to replant grass seed and apply fertilizer to help it out.)  Before there were iris, lupine, echinachea and grass growing in this bed.  Nothing except for the grass was doing very well.   The area gets full sun in the afternoon and gets very hot.  I needed to plant something here that was drought tolerant and could stand the sun.  I chose plants that could survive on their own, were perennial and needed little care to survive.  I planted a red hot poker, hardy oregano, wormwood, hyssop, wand flower and two heucheras.  I left plenty of space in between each plant to leave room to grow.  Most of them will get a few feet wide. To get rid of the plants that were there before I smothered them with cardboard and added a layer of black forest mulch/compost over the top.  The ground was too hard to try and dig anything out so I chose to smother them. Layering cardboard over the top of weeds is a great way to get rid of unwanted plants without using any chemicals. It also breaks down into the soil and will eventually turn into mulch to feed the soil.  Right now the bed looks great.  And if some weeds eventually pop through I can always add another layer of cardboard in the spring.

Hardy oregano that produces pink flowers

Wand flower and wormwood

Red Hot Poker.  I just checked it today and it is about to send out a flower stalk.  Hummingbirds love these plants

Hyssop and echinachea

Wormwood.  It will eventually create a mound of silvery foliage
I also added a river rock path from the back gate to the deck in the backyard.  Last year I had put a flower bed against the house but it looked out of place and it was in the way of walking to the back door.  I also didn't like to water this spot so plants didn't do to well here.  I decided to replace them with a path instead.  I bought some edging and decided how wide to make the path (3 feet) and then leveled the ground as much as possible.  I covered the path with cardboard just like the flower bed and then put weed block cloth over the top.  Last year I had used just the weed cloth but the weeds and grass still poked through.  Then I shoveled buckets of river rock from the patio near the dining room into the path.  Oz helped me with this, it was very tiring.  Then I lined the path with LED lights from Home Depot.  This area looks so much better now and much more put together.  I love it.  The lights make beautiful star burst patterns in the dark.  So pretty.
River Rock path in the backyard

LED solar lights
The lights at night

They make interesting light ray patterns
This is what the area looked like before the path was put down.  There were a few paved stones leading to the gate and a lot of dead grass.

While I was doing all of this, Oz was in the rest of the backyard weeding and riding the backyard of blackberry bushes.  It was a huge mess but it looks so much better now.  We really let the weeds get out of control this year.  Amazingly it only took him one afternoon to clean them all out.
The backyard weeding disaster.  There was stuff everywhere.
This is how neat and clean we had the backyard last spring.  We rototilled and put in a few vegetable gardens.
Spring of 2010.  There were hardly any weeds after we rototilled and dug everything out.

This is how out of control the weeds were just before Oz cleaned them out.  I could barely walk down the path without getting attacked by blackberries.
After Oz tore everything out. Vinca and blackberry bushes were consuming a large portion of the yard.

He left some blackberries so we could pick them.  After they are done fruiting we will cut them all the way back.

The next day after the yard work.  He was tuckered out.

Here are a few photos from earlier in the garden that I found while I was looking at garden photos.  They were pretty so I thought I'd share them.

A photo of last year's patio garden.  It was very pretty.  I didn't do anything to it this year because there wasn't a hose in this section and I hated dragging the garden hose through the house to water.

Beautiful blooming baskets and pots

This is a photo from earlier this spring.  Brett the squirrel is in the background digging up some nuts he buried there earlier in the fall.

August 17, 2011

Seattle's Best

This past Sunday Oz and I drove up to Seattle to watch a Mariner's game.  They were playing the Red Sox's and it turned out to be the fastest game I've watched.  The Mariner's ended up winning 5 to 3 and we got to see Jacoby Ellsbury(a former OSU baseball player) play for Boston.  We had a lot of fun and walked all over downtown and took lots of pictures.  We stayed one night at the City Hostel on 2nd Ave. and came home on Monday.  We took our time getting back and stopped at a few different stores and outlet malls. It was a really fun trip and we both missed Charlotte and the bunnies tons even though we were only gone 2 days.
In front of Pike's Place Market

Pike's Place

Decorative Pepper Display

Oz in front of the market

We stopped here for a late breakfast.  I was starving in the car and had to dig around for snacks until we got to Seattle.

A really delicious bacon and egg breakfast bagel sandwich

It was a mouthful

I love all the trees in downtown Seattle

Begonia Baskets in front of a fountain

You can walk underneath the fountain

Getting ready for the game

Me and Ichiro

In front of Safeco Field

The glove and I

We didn't realize our seats were under the awning.  It was very chilly and we didn't get any sun, not that it was out that day anyways.

Ellsbury at bat


After the 3rd inning, the field crew broke down in a dance while raking the dirt

Enjoying my Coors Light

We're cold but we're having a blast

The first home run of the game by the Mariners

After the game we checked into our room at the City Hostel.  It was really clean and a nice place.  The only part that we didn't like was the block it was on.  It was a little scary at night but we still felt safe where we were.

Its been voted best in the Nation.  Every room had murals painted on the wall.  There was a hot tub, movie theatre, private rooms. a balcony to eat breakfast and a chicken coop and organic garden on the roof.

Our room

There were funny little characters drawn all over the walls

The dining room and kitchen

In front of the Seattle Library.  It was closed when we got there so we couldn't go inside.

Dwight's head on a t'shirt

Nearing sunset

A fisherman statue

A cute octopus

For dinner we ate right next door to our hostel.  We miss understood where we both wanted to eat and ended up spending more than we thought for an ok meal.  It was still a nice time and the food was good.  I had the linguine with clams in a white wine sauce.

Oz had something we had a hard time pronouncing.  It was semi sweet with bacon and a light cream sauce.

The next morning we stumbled upon the original Starbucks across from Pike's Place

Each time we passed a Starbuck's (which was every corner) we joked that we found the original.  And when we were about to leave town we actually found the original when we weren't expecting it.

Eating a rhubarb pastry in front of Pirosky Pirosky.  Anthony Bourdain from the food network stopped at this place while filming one of his tv episodes.

Oz had a spinach and egg pastry and I had a rhubarb dish.  They were both delicious.

Just before heading out of the city we stopped at the Space Needle.  We could see it from our hotel and it was only a few blocks away.
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