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Showing posts from May, 2017

The Tiny Office Garden

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Last fall I moved into my tiny office in the back yard, and this spring Kirk put up one small finishing touch: the lattice around the foundation. That means I could plant a little garden by the stairs:

This is a tough spot, because it is shaded for most of the day by the maple tree in the compost yard. Some areas get strong afternoon sun, but I would call the exposure partial shade to full shade in spots. One full shade area is along the side, where I planted hosta and snakeroot:

The snakeroot has very dark leaves, which is hard to see against the compost. Here’s a better look:

Both of these shade-loving plants should eventually fill in. They’ll also have fragrant flowers in the summer (hosta) and fall (snakeroot), so I’m hoping the fragrance blows right in the windows of my office. The hosta variety is "Guacamole," which is supposed to have a nice scent. This whole garden is about smelling good!

Around the front (which gets a little more sun) I have a pair of red dianthus p…

Battle of the Small Fruit

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We have a little war going on in one of our garden beds:


This is the blueberry bed, but all those green, healthy-looking plants are not blueberries. They are raspberries, and they are taking over:

Here you can see a sad, yellowish blueberry that’s been completely overrun by vigorous green raspberry canes. These canes have jumped — or rather, burrowed — from their bed under the grass path and into the blueberry bed. 
And they’ve already managed to kill one blueberry bush entirely:

We’ve struggled with blueberries ever since we planted them, and last year we replaced several. That was the year of the drought, though, and they haven’t done well:

Though this one managed to put on some decent growth, you can see from the color that it’s not doing well. I suspect that we’ve never been able to get the soil acidic enough for them to thrive, and the discolored leaves are a sign that they are not getting the nutrients they need because the soil is too alkaline. 
We’ve worked to amend it, but …

Spring Pizza

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We eat a lot of homemade pizza throughout the year, but it’s always fun when a new ingredient is ready to harvest to shake things up a little bit. 

This very green springtime pizza features a garlic béchamel sauce, asparagus, spinach and feta. It’s also garnished with lovage and some pea shoots, all from the garden (except the feta, of course). This is a great way to enjoy our earliest garden harvest of asparagus and leafy greens.
I don’t think Jonas was wild about it, but we also had plenty of regular tomato sauce pizza for him, too. We’re down to our final jar of sauce now, so he might want to get on board with white pizza for the next couple months until we have some more tomatoes. (Ordinarily we don’t run out, but the drought really kept our yields down last summer). 
If you’re looking for something different in your pizza repertoire, give this one a try!

New Year’s Resolutions, Month by Month: April

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In April I continued my monthly New Year’s resolutions not by giving something up as I had for the first three months of the year, but rather by adding something. I decided to give meditation a try.
To do it, I used the Headspace app, which was recommended to me by a friend who also happens to be a professional neuropsychologist. You just load it up on your phone or iPad and it pretty much does the rest for you. 

This photo is from the desktop version, but the app is even easier. Just push the button for your session and you’ll get an introductory video to explain a concept or technique. Then the app will automatically flip to an audio page for your guided meditation. 
This was just 10 minutes per day, and it wasn’t always easy to fit in since I was away from home for two weeks in April, but I managed to catch up on the couple days I missed before the month was over. This program focuses on training to let thoughts go by concentrating on the breath and other physical sensations — at …

Playing Cat Detective

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While we were on vacation, our lovely neighbors came over every day to feed Smithy and check on the chickens. When we got back, there was a half-eaten can of food on the porch so all seemed well. 
Fast forward several days, and no one had seen the cat. 
The food was still being nibbled (though not devoured), so we alternated between being nervous that he ran away and feeling confident that Smithy was lurking around but hiding. 
So by Thursday we set up the iPad to film a time lapse video of his food throughout night (which is when the nibbling usually occurred). We knew something was eating the food, but we wanted to make sure it wasn’t a raccoon or skunk (which have managed to squeeze through the cat door in the past). 
In the morning we eagerly looked over our evidence:

Did you miss it? Right around the 10-second mark, there’s a flash of...something. It goes by so fast that the kids missed it, but I slowed it down to a frame by frame:



That’s Smithy, all right! 
So why was he hiding …