Monday, April 23, 2012

pallet garden

 A few weeks ago I saw the coolest thing on Pinterest.  Hang on, let me back up.  I pretty much think Pinterest is the coolest thing,but I am trying to detox from it some...I was a tad bit obsessed for a couple of weeks.  Just ask Tom.  Anyway, I saw these pallet gardens - basically a ready made raised bed but even better because 1. they have built in rows  2. it's recycling  3. they are free  So it's win win win.  I had also seen on Pinterest that laying wet newspaper down over your weeds, grass, what-not, and then putting the dirt over it was a great way to stop the weeds from coming through.  So we pulled a double Pinterest and started installing these, maybe three weeks ago.
 We planted tomatoes, radishes, a couple peppers, tomatillos, okra, watermelon, lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, spinach, basil, oregano, thyme, chamomille, lavender...I think that's all.  We put in seven of these things!  I did reserve one for zinnias so that I could have cut flowers all summer.

Over Easter weekend we took Tom's mom to The Great Outdoors.  It's a fantastic nursery on South Congress here in Austin.  While we were there we came across these gorgeous Meyer Lemon trees.  Tom flipped out because he is such a lemon nut.  We snatched one up...but it's been sitting in the pot since then because we could not figure out where to put it where it would do well and be safe from the dogs, ahem, peeing on it.
Over the weekend Tom decided if her planted it in the middle of  a pallet the dogs wouldn't be able to get to it and we could just pop boards out as it grew.  Done.  It looked pretty lonely out there so we decided to turn the whole thing into a little garden for Daisy.  Tom's mom had given us some daisy seeds in our Easter basket, we got some varieties of daisy's from the nursery and we spent Sunday building this little garden for our girl.  I was thinking I might spread some of her ashes out there until my mom reminded me that she would absolutely hate being outside and would much prefer her ashes to be right in the closet where she belongs.  It made me giggle through my tears and I knew that she was right.  The garden is for us.
Tom turned one of the pallets on it's end, disassembled another pallet and used it's remains to put bottoms on the rows so that they would hold dirt and Voila! we have vertical gardening!  This is our little Daisy garden.  The daisy's are sharing space with strawberries, some herbs, and some nasturtiums.  It might not be a place Daisy would have spent time or even have known it existed.  But it will do Tom and I some good.

our little pallet got picked up by Hometalk!!!  How cool is that!?!?!  Check it out here!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our first baby.

 I was 21 when I got Daisy.  She came from an ad in the paper, someone giving away kittens.  I was moving from an apartment into a house, my roommate had a cat (that's him in the photo), and I thought "I want a cat."  I didn't give much thought to vet bills, food, and the fact that she would be with me for the next 19 years.  Classic immature 21 year old who probably had no business getting acquiring a dependent.   But I did, happily, I did.  We lived in that house for a year and a half.  I still maintain that in that formative time she was shaped by Kim's less than normal cat, Taylor.  He was a dear, sweet cat, but odd.  They loved each other...she truly never liked another cat after him.

Then we moved back home, two cats there.  Didn't like them a bit.  After a couple of years we moved into an apartment where my new roommate got a little black kitten named Dream.  He was less than a dream.  There was an incident where Daisy was slowly, gingerly crawling into a plastic grocery bag.  She was not a terribly playful cat so I was loving watching her be so inquisitive.  Out of no where Dream pounced on the bag.  Daisy went flying, plastic bag and all, up the stairs, ripped her toenail out, and never came out of my bedroom after that.  That began a trend for my girl.  Each place we lived after that she claimed a room (or closet within a room) and that is where she stayed for the duration of her time in that home.  It was around this time that I met Tom.  Slowly Daisy and I moved our stuff out of that apartment and in with Tom.  Soon the three of us found an adorable little old house in the heart of Austin.  Daisy claimed the guest room in that house, I even painted her name on the door there.  We were there for one year and in that time managed to adopt our first dog (Seven) and our second cat (Berkatu aka Berklie).
In October of 1998 Tom and I bought a house and the five of us moved.  Daisy and I drove over together.  When she set foot into her new home I think her objective was to run as far as she could - that happened to be the closet in the master bedroom.  And there she stayed.  For the next 14 years.  She came out at night to sleep in bed with us.  And as she aged she ventured into the bedroom more during the day, but her home, her food, her bed, her litter box, it was all in the closet.  I can probably count on two hands the number of times she has left that room in the last 14 years.  Walking her out of that room yesterday morning was one of the hardest things I've ever done because I was pretty sure she wouldn't get to come back.

And she didn't.  We had to say goodbye to her at about 8:30 yesterday morning at our vet's office.  She was in renal failure.  It all just happened so fast.  I had no time to prepare.  It was just last week that I was writing about her birthday.  I'm in shock.

Daisy has been with me all of my adult life.  She was there when I met Tom.  She was there to see each new dog and cat be adopted into our odd little family.  She saw more than 200 foster dogs come and go.  How do you say goodbye to a life like that?  How do you let go?  How do you learn to live with out nightly battles over foot space and glasses of water?  It's been less than seven months since we lost Preacher and I'll be honest, I have not recovered from that yet.  I guess it's just time.  Time to settle in to a new normal.

I might recover, I will recover.  But I'll never get over the loss.  The empty space.

Dear Daisy,

Thank you for being my cat...even though in the last five years you decided that Tom was more your person that I was.  It's ok.  I thought it was cute.  The way you tugged at the covers until he let you under and you did that little turn around so that you were curled right against his chest with just your head sticking out.  Y'all were adorable.  Going to bed without you last night was excruciating.  We almost slept in the guest room.  Instead we stalled as long as possible.

Looking back there is not much I would change about our life together.  It was pretty great.  But I would let you sleep on my feet all night.  And I would let you stick your feet in my water if you want to.

My Daisy, my Razor Rae, my Maizer.  I will love you forever and ever and ever.
Sleep well crazy girl.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

homemade vanilla

 A year or so ago I caught an episode of The Barefoot Contessa where she talked about making homemade vanilla.  I don't remember her actually making it, more just quickly running through the how to's.  Seriously, you can barely call it a recipe, its that easy. 
 Here it is:

12-24 vanila beans
a jar

That's it.  And all you do is split the beans, scrape the seeds, throw 'em in the jar, put the empty beans in the jar, cover it all with vodka, and shake.  Ms. Garten says it'll be ready in six months.  But I choose to believe this recipe, over at Zoe Bakes, that says five weeks.

I've been wanting to make it ever since I saw that BC episode, but I knew I'd have to take out a loan to get enough beans.  I finally caved when I needed another excuse to buy more Weck jars.  Which brings me to my new obsession.  Is it weird that I am obsessed with these jars?  Ok, maybe a little, but there are worse things.  Anyway, I wanted to get these mini carafes and knew they would be perfect for the vanilla.  And since Easter was just a few days away these were a perfect addition to my mom and mother-in-law's Easter baskets!
Since we have a minimum five week wait to test the extract I needed some instant gratification so I threw together a little homemade vanilla simple syrup.  I just tossed a few of the empty pods into a pan with equal parts water and sugar, brought it to a boil, just til the sugar dissolved.  We used it in lemonade, coke, and when it got a little low we added it to our creamer - instant flavored creamer with out all of the nasty hydrogenated this 'n that!  So that's what, three? fun things to do with vanilla beans?  And in a month or so I'll let you know what I'm doing with the extract itself!

Monday, April 16, 2012

'bout a week late

 So Easter.  I missed my Easter post.  I had plans to post photos from the cupcakapalooza, the lottery ticket stuffed plastic eggs, the Peep eating contest, the mammoth cinnamon rolls, the egg dying contest, the stuffed toy sperm prizes, yes, that's right, I said toy sperm, but I missed it.  I started feeling puny Easter evening, worse the next day, and by Wednesday the flu I thought I had had turned to pneumonia.  Bummer.  So, this is the condensed Easter post.  The precious Easter "basket" that my sweet husband made for me and then me, maybe two year old me, with the slightly scary Easter Bunny.
Let's just call this Happy Spring.  K?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Happy 19th Daisy Mae.

This month our sweet old girl turned 19. I've been pretty amazed, but maybe I shouldn't be. She is quite possible THE most sheltered kitty in the world. She's 100% indoors, she eats well, and is just never, ever exposed to any dangers...unless you consider the dogs, that she slaps around or head butts depending on her mood, a danger.

I love her. I adore her. But I've gotta be honest - she drives me a little nuts. We're good all day long but when night rolls around the battle of will begins. When I go to bed I take a glass of water with me, have to. The minute that glass hits the night stand Daisy is on it like white on rice. She sticks her paw in it. Evidence here. The same paw that earlier shoved kitty litter over her, um, eliminations. She has her own glass. Yes glass. Because she refuses to drink out of a bowl like a normal cat, if there is such a thing as a normal cat. Anyway, her glass is on the dresser, a whopping three feet away from the night stand. I've started having to use one of those insulated Starbucks cups with the lid and straw. Thing two: sleeping on my feet. I'm one of those people who has to kick my feet out from under the covers at night or I feel trapped. What is more confining than tucked bed covers? Answer: being pinned down by a cat! And so the battle begins. All night long. Picking her up, moving her over six inches, falling asleep, waking up , picking her up, moving her six inches, and so on. All. Night. Long.

But, I wouldn't trade her for anything. She is affectionate, funny, adorable, oddly agile for her age, and an extreme pest. She is needy and independent all at the same time. Maybe that's why she drives me bonkers - we are too much alike.

Happy Birthday crazy girl.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

old school

I've been missing college. Specifically my metalsmithing classes. When I was at SWT getting my studio art degree, you had to take seven semesters of your chosen emphasis in addition to several other studio classes. Translation: I spent three and half years (well, if I'm being honest, I did four and a half) in the same room. It was Heaven. There were three of us that started and finished together and a few more that overlapped a few years. We really hunkered down and it became home. I spent more nights half asleep in that studio that I should ever admit to - late nights, no sleep, a torch in your hand or molten metal flying through an outdated centrifuge at 2am...well, let's just say that I had some unintentional hair trims on more than one occasion.

But back then we had projects. We were given topics or materials or something to launch us into a month long project. It is so different from how I work now that it seems crazy - I would actually work on one thing for four weeks!?!? But I did. And I have been longing for that again. Sketching, playing around with an idea, experimenting, taking on something that I know will be involved and probably, truthfully, not sell-able because I've invested a bazillion hours into it.

But here's the thing: I've decided I need those old school projects. They are good for me, keep my brain working and keep me in touch with those days where I couldn't afford to buy silver so I made everything in copper. So, this butterfly ring is my first trip down memory lane. It began with the cage, just wanting to cage something...I had to really rack my brain on building the cage, it took a few attempts. While it's not a month long project, it was time-pricey. And I love it. The band and setting are sterling silver, the butterfly is brass and sitting in green resin, and the cage is made of copper. It's kinda cool.
And all the while I am still working on what truly IS metalsgirl. And the really great thing is, it still inspires me. I still love making pretty much every piece. I would be nuts not to - I got an art degree that I actually use to make a living. How often does that happen? To say I am lucky is quite the understatement. So yeh, whether I am making a necklace I've made 20 times before or a ring that no one may ever wear, I'm loving my job!

Monday, April 2, 2012

freshen up

Tom and I often talk about things we want to "do" around the house. It always sounds really fun until about 20 minutes in when I want to take it all back. Hit the rewind button and decide it was just fine the way it was. This time it was the dining room. And the little lady in the photo above started the whole thing.
Our dining room was red. RED. Everything was red. The walls and ALL the woodwork. I loved it when we did it and honestly, I still liked it, but it needed a change. I swear it feels a third larger now.

Anyway, I bought the lamp of the girl in the yellow dress with her dog off of etsy a few months ago. I looooove her! But I could not figure out where she should live. Tom was the one that suggested the dining room and the inspired change. Oh, and the Ikea light fixture was a huge part of the decision t revamp. The chandelier or most-hideous-light-fixture-ever, as I like to call it, that was there before HAD to go. We've been wanting to change it since Jesus was a baby, but just had not found the right thing. Why we ever bought it in the fist place is a mystery to me...I should post a photo...anyway, all I can figure is that it was super cheap at the Pottery Barn outlet and you know how that is: when something was a bajillion dollars and now it's like, $15, it's all of the sudden cute. That must be what happened. It wasn't cute.
There was some switcharoo-ing going on - the kitchen and the dining room swapped hutches, the black dresser turned bar moved from my friend Haley's garage to our dining room, and Vivian, our mannequin, got a new to her (my grandmother's) vintage linen dress.

The built in book cases that my Dad made for me for my birthday a few years ago look soooooo much better in white. Not sure what made me paint them red in the fist place, but now they feel like the built-ins circa 1950's house that I was shooting for.

Now it's all said and done. Tom did the lion's share of the work. Poor thing might never recover from scraping those dreadful popcorn ceilings (who EVER thought those were a good idea?). It took twice as long as I said it would, but I love it. Nice to have a bright, cheerful change to issue in spring.