Archive | June 2010

Garden Update: Week 11

In spite of our prolonged absence from the garden (thank you, Hawaii!) and the ridiculous heat of the past few weeks, our plot continues to thrive. I was so thankful that not only did my sister-in-law water while we were away, but our fellow gardeners heeded the “my owner is away, please water me” signs, too. I was tempted just to leave them in, but then decided it wouldn’t be prudent. In fact, thanks to the ugly storm on the night we returned, the plot didn’t really need much watering on my first  visit. Of course all that water had also helped the weeds thrive, so there were plenty of those to eliminate.

However, that same ugly storm that brought some rain had another, more negative impact on the garden: strong gusts of wind knocked down our overflowing tomato cages. After my fruitless efforts to stand them back up, my husband and I returned after dark to try when we hoped it would be cool (it was not) and did our best to fix the problem. Thanks to three stakes, a roll of string, and trimming off a lot of branches (mostly broken or bent by the storm, but sadly many with tomatoes on them), we were able to get the cages standing again. Hopefully this quick-fix will last for the rest of the season, but I suppose we need to look into getting something a little bit sturdier for next year.

Despite the time they spent laying down, we still have an abundance of (green) cherry and big tomatoes on the vines. I have also brought home four cucumbers, a handful of sugar snap peas, our first harvest of carrots and a ton of basil. Our dill is flowering and definitely needs to be cut back. I also think that during an upcoming visit to the plot I will be required to transplant the curry from its current location—where it is being overshadowed by the basil—to between the tomato and struggling sugar snap pea plants, allowing it  room to grow. Plus, our green beans are flowering and there are chili and bell peppers on their respective plants!

I’m happy to see everything doing so well. But it’s been frustrating to water in this horrid heat. The soil soaks up the water in seconds.

Oh wait, I think I just heard some thunder… maybe it is heralding some rain that will rid us of this oppressive heat…

Aloha Hawaii, Hello DC

After nine days in paradise it’s hard to get excited about being home.  These days, DC is decidedly not paradise. It has been well over 90 degrees for the last few days and with extreme humidity. Have I mentioned that we don’t have air conditioning and my office is on the top floor? Let’s just say that returning to reality has been a seriously sweaty adjustment.

During our adventure on the Big Island of Hawaii, my husband and I did our best to take time to both relax and explore. I also did my best to do as little in the world of housewifery as possible. Despite a few very small loads of laundry and washing a handful of dishes, it was a blissful vacation away from both work and house projects.

We tried to have an adventure each day. One day that manifested into driving around the entire island (which didn’t take nearly as long as it sounds like it would) and taking in the volcano, waterfalls and numerous breathtaking views along the way. Since we were in Hawaii, we had to be touristy at least one day so we attended a luau (at which we learned luau is actually a type of food and someone mistook it for “party” years ago and it just stuck). Based on a couple recommendations, we chose the luau with the best-rated food and it also had an entertaining show. We both managed to avoid the poi as we had no room left on our plates to squeeze in the runny concoction, as it was filled with pork and salmon and salads and fresh fruit and sweet bread. We spent many a morning at white and black sand beaches and read by the pool most afternoons. The main attraction–and the impetus for the trip–was our friend’s wedding, which was a beautiful ceremony held outside under a gentle mist of rain and a bright streaming sun. We were able to visit with friends we don’t see often and catch up with others who we hadn’t seen in more than a decade.

We ate, we walked, we laughed. Did I mention we ate? Thanks to the newlyweds suggestions, we had no problem enjoying each meal we had out, as well as coffee, frozen yogurt and assorted other treats. Among the things we ate were fresh fish tacos, amazing pizza, kicky sushi, and fabulous pork sandwiches. We also had a lunch of “fried” — I had a monte cristo sandwich and my husband had fish ‘n’ chips. We both thought we might die after eating all that fried food, but it was certainly tasty! The only thing that I didn’t get was a drink with a tiny umbrella in it! Not even my giant Mai Tai Mojito came with one and for $10, I think the bartender should really have thrown a tiny umbrella on top!

But really, there is nothing to complain about. After looking forward to this trip for nearly a year, there was a lot of anticipation and expectations piled on, but our nine days away were an amazing opportunity to relax, reflect and reconnect.

We won’t be having any pig that has been roasted all day in the ground any time soon, instead it is time to get back to the usual routine — work, dishes, laundry, garden and jazzercise.  Although I miss being able to glance over at the beach, I know that even though it is err… “different,” life is pretty amazing in DC, too.

Aloha

The garden plot has been (sort of) weeded and watered. We’re (mostly) packed. The house is (relatively) clean.

It’s been a busy day as we try to tidy up and wrap-up some projects around the house while my father-in-law is here to help. This last minute push to get big projects taken care of means my husband and FIL are currently installing a ceiling fan, a task that has filled the living room with hunks of plaster and dust (hence the “relatively” clean comment). But it will be such a treat to have a ceiling fan on the main level of the house when we return. It’s already over 90 and so humid, I can’t imagine what the weather will be like a bit later in the month.

But for now I am signing off until I have news about a wedding, a luau and evening drinks on the lanai to share.

Ready for a Getaway

It’s been another hectic week at our house. The number of family members in attendance at meals each evening has shifted between four, six, seven or eight depending on the day. Because of this we have been cooking and eating a lot of wonderful food as well as consuming a serious amount of wine. Also, I am happy to report that a good number of house projects around the house have been completed thanks to my in-laws.

In the midst of this family time, I have been a busy bee with freelance work, new project meetings and trying to include the things that need to happen at the house in the mix. It has been a long week and I don’t think I won any housewife awards, but it is Friday and I am happy about that!

Now we get our highly anticipated reward. Thanks to a dear friend getting married, my husband and I have the pleasure of spending the next week in Hawaii.

Although I am beyond mentally ready, I am definitely not prepared. The house is in disarray from having so many people in and out every day for the last few weeks, so much laundry needs to be done, dishes have to be washed and most importantly I need a nap! And we need to pack, a task I despise. And while I am not feeling terribly motivated to do any of those things at the moment, I know it will all get taken care (except the nap part, that never seems to happen) and we’ll be on a beach somewhere before I know it.

The only problem I foresee is that while I love the idea of a drink with a tiny umbrella in it, the standard Hawaiian cocktails aren’t my cup of tea. I wonder if I can get a tiny umbrella in a glass of red wine?

Garden Update: Week 8

Cherry Tomatoes

The combination of extreme heat and semi-regular thunderstorms seem to be exactly what the garden ordered. Numerous tomatoes are now visible on both the cherry tomato and full-sized plant, all are still green, of course. There are tiny cucumbers beginning to emerge from the flowers on the vine.

Also our basil has been growing like crazy. I picked a bunch of leaves for homemade pizza on Friday night and everyone was shocked by how big the basil was. Last night we were able to make use of our garden grown dill, cilantro and curry in our family dinner. It’s rewarding to utilize fresh, home grown herbs instead of the overpriced fresh herbs from the store or the dried variety.

All of this is happening much earlier than last summers crop. It was mid-July before we were able to start picking tomatoes or cucumbers in 2009. But everything isn’t growing early this season, the pepper plants (both bell pepper and chili) seem to be on the mid-July track as usual. They haven’t even started to flower, but the plants look hearty and green, which seems like a good sign. As long as the bell peppers and chili peppers grow this summer, I can wait.

Everything else seems to be at the right stage — the carrots are growing and our green bean plant has covered its entire area of the trellis (and more) although there are no flowers yet. So far it appears that this will be a very fruitful summer season, of course only time will tell.

Unfortunately for me, the weather has gotten to that unbearably hot “I don’t want to water the garden” stage, which is worrisome since it is only the first week of June, but I continue to try and go early in the morning before it has gotten too steamy outside.

Saturday’s Herb Haul: Dill, Curry, Basil & Cilantro

But Mother Nature is doing her part to help me out. In fact, it looks like it could rain any minute and despite the fact that my husband is out participating in his first regatta of the rowing season, I kind of hope that it does — as long as it isn’t a thunder storm — since I didn’t get to the garden this lazy Sunday morning.

The Visitors, Part 3

Before

Sometimes our home seems like a hotel with the number of visitors coming and going. There was a weekend last June when we had a guest leave after a three week stay only to have two guests arrive about an hour after her departure. Honestly, we do enjoy having company. And we know that living in the nation’s capitol, combined with our charming personalities, has encouraged lots of folks to visit us here.

We had a bit of a lull when our volcanic ash refugees left, but the four weeks of quiet and solitude has finally been broken. My in-laws arrived last week, kindly dragging a trailer filled with the rest of our crap—er—I mean our most beloved possessions, that had been left in our respective parents’ homes during our initial move back east.

Upon their arrival, we promptly relocated everythingthat had been crammed into that trailer into our living room. It was a little terrifying. The rug was completely hidden by boxes and trunks and more boxes. Who knew so much stuff could fit in one of those dinky trailers?

However the mess was worth it. I am thrilled that the grandmothers clock that has been at my parents’ house as long as I can remember now resides in our dining room. It was also fun to get my wedding dress back although I am a little scared to try it on … it’s only been three years, but I am pretty sure it isn’t going to fit anymore.

After

In less than a week, we have managed to move most of the stuff to other parts of the house and now we just have my husband’s trombone, an old sea-trunk and two boxes of miscellaneous things that don’t have an obvious home just yet.

Sorting through books, finding cards and pictures that we had both long forgotten about and stumbling upon my ruby slippers from my days as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was a lot of fun. Let’s not kid ourselves, it is tiring to go through box upon box—particularly when we did it in California before packing it up not so long ago—but it is nice to take a moment and reflect on the good memories from the past.

It’s also been a joy to have our current guests with us. And not only because they spend their days laboring away on house projects, which they’ve taken on with gusto. Our roof hatch (which was seriously damaged thanks to Snowmageddon) has been reconstructed, our front door latch and frame has been refitted, we have a screened in front gate and the process for adding a vent fan to our basement bathroom is in progress. Life may be hot, sweaty and dusty at our casa these days, but for the old memories we are reminded of and the new memories we are creating, it’s all worth it.