Friday, April 29, 2011

Roasted Potatoes with chive pesto. And a fried egg.

Chives just don't let you down. I'd been watching mine needle up from their tidy clump for weeks, waiting for them to get big enough for the dinner table.

I'd schemed up this dinner sometime in mid-February. Chives were still a long way off then, but, I thought: come they will. And I'll need a way to eat them. I sat at the dining room table with a cup of tea and looked out at the snowdrifts, and I conjured up chive pesto. Tossed with the last of the winter potatoes and topped with an egg, it'll be the perfect springtime dinner.

And, I'm proud to report, it was.

I'm well into clean-out mode, in preparation for the move. I made pesto by dragging every remotely pesto-related ingredient out of the fridge, furrowing my brow, and tossing random things into the food processor. In the end, I had this:

1/4 cup roughly chopped chives
2-3 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
enough olive oil to make it pesto-y
liberal ground black pepper
a handful of green pumpkin seeds just for the heck of it

The verdict: chives and feta, surprisingly good. This is not a pesto to eat before a job interview. Or a date. But to dress up some roasted potatoes, or mild fish, or even to eat with butter on bread (call me crazy) it's pretty darn good.

Another recent clean-out related score: Irish Soda Bread muffins. One empty dried currants box out of the pantry and into the recycling bin: check!

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Floor plan

We spent yesterday evening scouring floors with 220-grit sandpaper. For the weekend, I've hatched a crazed plan involving three coats of clear finish and tenting in the backyard while it dries. If the plan flies, move-in might happen as early as next week. I am ready. Really ready.

For a better sense of what we're going to have to work play with, here's a floor plan:

I made this one with I've become obsessed.

You can color the rooms as they're painted, you can move windows, stretch furniture, and do all kinds of crazy things.

And then you can add stuff. You can dream. You can make a sketch with little boxes and shapes representing what you hope the house will look like in three months.

Which is what I did, naturally.
(This one you can click for a bigger view.)
I put the fireplace in the Great Room, just the way it will be someday. I put Patrick's big, crescent-shaped music desk in its corner. If only actually moving were as easy as sliding little boxes around.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Green is showing up everywhere this week. On the menu, chive pesto with poached eggs. Spring has been very slow and wet this year, but it seems to be gaining steam. 


Monday, April 25, 2011

Intent to flourish

I have a confession to make. Friday night, I went for a long walk around our Binghamton neighborhood, and on my way home, I stopped for a donut. I love donuts. I ate it while walking in the misty rain, licking my fingers and sucking goo out of the wrapper. 

Then I smiled a big, loopy, sugar-crazed smile.

And then the guilt set in. I went out for a long walk, for health,  for exercise, and completely negated the whole endeavor with a donut.

Well friends, let's just say this. When I finished digging this trench, straightened and stood back, I didn't feel quite so bad about my solitary donut Friday night. This is my asparagus trench. It is two feet by thirty feet long.

This is what my 25 asparagus crowns looked like after I set them in the trench, before I "tucked them in." Then I got to watch it rain on them, and watch all the neighborhood robins come dine on this fresh filet-of-earthworm buffet. 

Nothing quite announces an intent to flourish like an asparagus bed. It'll take three years for the plants to get established and start producing, but that's fine by me. Three years of waiting, and then I get to spend the rest of my life enjoying the fruits of my labor? That's not a bad deal at all.


Friday, April 22, 2011

You've Come a Long Way, Baby: Laundry Room

A view of our new house, past and present. A reminder of how far we've come, and a morale-booster for the upcoming weekend of work.

This one isn't exactly dramatic, but I figured since we hadn't had an installment of this series for awhile, it was time. 

The tile is the main improvement. As you may remember from this picture here...

...the tile was painted orange. "Finish scraping LR tile" was something I was all too happy to cross of my to-do list last weekend. (LR= laundry room.) 

Ahead for this room: floor refinishing, new washer/dryer hook-up, painting the cabinets (I'm thinking a nutty shade of white) and giving them some new hardware. That's the plan, at least!

I'm hoping for some good weather this weekend so we can get started on another very important and exciting project: my garden. I've got a box full of asparagus crowns eager to be put in the ground... hello, weather gods, are you listening?

Happy Friday.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Get my mitts

Aren't the things you figure out by yourself the most gratifying? It took me a couple of tries to get this right-- and, well, it's still a little wonky-- but I did it. 

I decided I needed to make myself a little present-- a reward for painting ceilings and painting trim and scrubbing tile and sewing curtains. And, I thought my new kitchen-to-be needed a little present, too. A little sprucing. So I cut into my Very Favorite Fabric, which I've been saving and ogling at for years, and made an oven mitt.

It went like this. I traced an existing oven mitt, adding about 1/2" of seam allowance. I cut two of those from my Very Favorite Fabric. Then, I cut two pieces of cotton batting and one piece of lining-- I used an old pillowcase for the lining. For the batting and lining, I just cut rectangles. Once the four layers were quilted together-- with lines 1 1/4" apart-- I trimmed the whole stack to the shape of the mitt. Then I repeated the whole thing with the other (mirror image) piece of poppy fabric. I stitched the two quilted mitt-halves together and added a piece of linen bias tape at the bottom.

Now for one more of these, and some potholders, and then more curtains.

And another hike like the one we took last night, please.

Patrick spent all of Tuesday and Wednesday out at the house with his dad, sanding the floors. Another step closer...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The flowers on the wall

When I was twenty, I had a summer job in the Adirondack mountains. I slept in a big platform tent rife with big toothy spiders, earned a hundred dollars a week, and had no car. No boyfriend, either, but that was okay. On my days off, the best thing to do was sit with my colored pencils and sketch. Usually, I drew leaves and flowers; sometimes, twigs.

I learned a lot. I learned about the texture on the underside of the purple milk cap mushroom, and the perfect twist of a beech fern frond. I learned about the veins on the white wood aster leaf. I'm no great artist, (that's my mom), but I fell in love with the steady, almost meditative sketching I found time for that long, rainy summer.

Where am I going with this? Right. My flower wall. I've been loving working on this thing. It reminds me in so many ways of my summer in the mountains, even though I'm copying a design, not creating my own. I'm learning about the notches in zinnia petals, and the curve of poppy leaves. It is slow, pretty, mindful work, and I'm a little blue that my one wall is nearing completion.

Which has led to the predictable result of: I'm leaning towards flowering the other walls, as well. Come on, now, what did you expect?

This room is really shaping up in my mind's eye: white chair-rail underneath the flowered part, running all the way 'round the room. That fireplace we scored sitting right in the middle, flanked by white bookshelves. I feel like one of those mice in Cinderella, when they hit upon the idea to sew her a dress: Oh, goody goody goody.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Shouldn't be rushed

I flew solo for most of this weekend. Patrick had far-flung gigs both Friday and Saturday nights, so it was I, not us, who loaded the truck and the dog and drove out to G'ville on Friday evening. I spent the entire evening raking, from five-thirty to after eight. The peepers were thrumming. Starlings were wheeling around in the air-- and as much as I hate starlings, they do look beautiful in flight. All around the house, little green nubs are nosing up through the chilly brown earth. Spring is getting a slow start this year, but that's okay. This is the kind of thing that shouldn't be rushed.

Saturday, my folks came to visit. Dad brought sage advice and a five-gallon bucket of floor finish. Mom brought her artist's sensibility. We ate chicken enchiladas and raspberry peach crisp in the flower room.

(I have a feeling that the so-called "great room" is never actually going to be called the great room. It's a big room full of flowers. The flower room.)

Sunday morning, I puttered. I got a little tidy, a little unpack-y, a little lonely. A little playful.

What do you think? I think I'm going to build a little ledge up there, for the purpose of displaying a tribe of small glass bottles.

I passed by this doorway many times throughout the course of Sunday, and those little bottles never failed to make me smile. It feels so good to do something decorative, even if it's small.

At length, my sweetie returned from the Great White North. At slightly greater length, my sweetie says to me, "Let's take a walk," and so, despite the great winds, we walk. At the center of town, we discover that this is the day for the fabled annual appearance of the Morris Men!

Gilbertsville, as you will notice if you ever visit here, is the source of a great many "What century are we in?" moments. Also, "What country are we in?" This was one of those. One Saturday (or Sunday, if Saturday is inclement) every year, the whole town turns out to watch the Morris Men dance, jingle, and wave their hankies in the center of town.

It's just a rite of spring, I guess. So glad we caught it, by chance, on our first spring in town.

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