Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kitties and sun

There's only one window in our house that gets afternoon sun, and the kitties are happy there is a shelf for them to fully enjoy it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Last Harry Potter Party

The last Harry Potter movie has been released, which means it is time for the last Harry Potter Party.

We arrived at the theater early and Matt had his customary seat next to Jessie. They have sat next to each other for all eight films.

After the movie, we returned to Burt and Laurie's house. As usual there was delicious food. Here, Matt demonstrates the powers of a fruit wand. In the foreground you can see the Leaky Cauldrons, cupcakes with frosting and pudding on top. Both were made by Laurie and were delicious!

There were even prizes that came by Owl Post.

Usually we have a trivia game, but this year, Laurie thought of an incredibly fun new game. She had all the audiobooks loaded on her iPhone and she shuffled them. She would play a segment and contestants would listen and then, when they thought they could identify the correct book, they put the card in the air. It was fun to play and to watch.

Here, everyone is pretty sure it's 7. Points were tallied and seats shifted depending on the standings in the points. We played for hours.

During a break in the game, prizes were awarded. Matt got two. His first prize was "Most Parties Attended." Jessie (Matt's faithful seatmate) also took home that prize. Matt also won "Biggest Winner of Previous Trivia Quiz" Willow and Marley also won that one.

Aside from a very cool wand, he got a wind up Harry Potter Quiddich toy. We checked to see if the cats were interested. They weren't.
It was a fitting end to the Harry Potter Parties and congratulations to Laurie (and Burt!) for being such good hosts.

Butterbeer cookies

My friend Sara, she of Pike Schemes fame, sent me a blog post for Butterbeer cookies, knowing that Matt and I attend a party with every release of movie. I awoke the morning of the party with a hankering to bake, so Butterbeer cookies, here we come.

I've always had trouble rolling out dough to the specified thickness. Way back in home ec., we watched a movie (yes, on a projector) about baking cookies where the cookie bakers had some great wooden rods the exact thickness needed. I always wanted some of my own and today was happy to discover that some of my wooden spoons are exactly the thickness needed. I had to move them around a bit, but they worked wonderfully.

Finished cookies. The glaze--whose recipe I indeed doubled as suggested because it was good enough to drink from a shot glass--didn't firm up like I thought it would, even with time in the refrigeration, so these were very sticky cookies. But they were delicious, if I do say so myself!

This was also the excuse to buy a set of biscuit cutters, which I've been wanting for years. No more will my biscuits be cut with drinking glasses. They are pretty ingenious. The three cutters all stack together and they are two sided, with the opposite side being a fluted edge. The stars came from the cookie cutters that came with my mixer.

Thanks for the recipe, Sara. If only you had been here to eat them.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What's going on in the garden?

A (mostly) monthly check in.

Kitties would like to go in the garden, but will settle for sleeping.

I bought these boots last year and they were a good investment.

One corner of Leo's yard. The birch tree is growing, that swath of green you see is a whole lot of lettuce and in the foreground are newly planted nasturtiums.

From the other angle, more nasturtiums in the foreground (I over planted) Dinosaur Kale in the foreground and that's corn along the fence.

This hill will hopefully be a spot for squash. The California poppies and bachelor buttons have self seeded from last year. This year I will try to collect some seeds so I can direct the seeding next year.

Swiss Chard in the back, beets in the middle, Nasturtiums in the front. That Swiss Chard was transplanted to that bed on 5/24 and it just stayed about 3 inches tall for a very long time. Cold, cold spring.

It's bigger now.

Aside from the fact I planted too much, the lettuce has been a shining star. In the front is Furellenschalus, which is quite pretty. In the back is Deer Tongue.

I thought Furellenschaulss was a strange German word until I realized it was "For Ellen Schlauss" Very clever.

Another close up of Deer Tongue

I've not had the best success with squash and now I think I know why. It always grew pretty well until mid-summer and then sort of fainted like a southern bell with her stays too tight. Vern Nelson tells me that squash are thirsty beasts and need a drink every day. So I've followed his advice and set up these milk jugs to pour water into every day to give the squash a drink. The only other problem may be that the soil didn't warm up until just recently, so I don't think I have enough season left unless we have a long, hot summer that extends into mid-October and the rains don't come until November. I am not at all confident that this will come about. Next year I have plans for a cold frame and a much, much earlier start.


More squash hills

Onto the backyard. The cherry tree is blocking most of the view from the back corner now. Alas, it was not a good year for cherries.

Columnar Apple tree and the future raspberry space.

Framework for the Belgian Fence. Because the apple trees are not yet supposed to be planted, I'm utilizing the Belgian Fence for the tomato plants and the boarage I have planted to attract bees and increase the tomato production.
From the corner by the compost we can see the contorted quince in front left, being overtaken by radish gone to seed. There are nasturtiums planted around the blueberry plants and the peas are climbing up the trellis. I did well with peas this year.

A view of the strawberry (excellent harvests also) and the asparagus fronds.

I had some extra room on this row and so some nasturtium and calendula were planted here.

A close up of the tomato plants.

Close up of the strawberries. They are Seascape and delicious.

A close up of the peas. They are about done for the season.

More peas.

This year I harvested a full pound of asparagus in my two week harvest period! Next year I get to harvest for four weeks!

Flowering radish, the trash can with a failed attempt to grow potatoes in (I forgot to figure out where the dirt to fill the trash can would come from.) We've also transitioned our compost from the black metro compost bin, to the metal canned Compost Digester I made using instructions from Seattle Tilth. The advantage of the digester is that you don't mix in the browns, just throw all your scraps in there and the bugs go to work. The Metro bin will get moved to the side of the house for carefully mixed compost making.

A close up of the nasturtiums with the blueberries and a very large dandelion.

I've been using the laundry detergent containers to water the blueberries while they get established. They each have a tiny hole in the bottom to dribble the water very close to the plant.

Both columnar apples. They need to be pruned, which is on the menu for July. I missed the window last year.

Moving on to Emilia's yard, we can see a bed waiting to be dug, and two beds, one with wheat/corn and one with wheat. In the back of the picture is the rain garden, which has been planted with corn, in addition to the rain garden plants.

Corn has also been planted on the side yard and there are three squash hills.

A view of the rain garden and the asparagus mound. I thought all the asparagus died, so I started piling on the pulled weeds, to compost on the mound, but that amount of mulch gave the asparagus reason to live and several shoots have appeared.

Close up of corn. This is a heirloom variety that is to be used for polenta. I'm also growing it for the stalks. They will be used to make compost.

Corn in rain garden.

Wheat. This may just get used as carbon for the compost. Or I may extract the wheat for the wheat berries. It kind of depends on how busy my autumn is.

The asparagus mound/weed storage area.

Careful watch by a kitty.

Sentinel elected to stay in bed.