Category Archives: backyard

Raised Garden Bed

Everyone has their own Best Husband Ever, but mine really is The Best.  Aside from putting up with my everyday nonsense, he indulges me when I get an idea stuck in my head that inevitably involves a lot of heavy labor on his part.  And he doesn’t even roll his eyes when I insist it won’t take long to complete.

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Clearing off the memory card, Part 2

Just a few more random photos, not even food related!

Right before our wedding, I noticed there were beautiful blue eggs in this bird house we hung from our patio.  When we got back from our honeymoon, I found these cute little chicks sticking their heads out and peeping.  After a few days, they were all gone!  They didn’t look all that feathered to me, but I also didn’t find any of them in the yard, so I’m hoping they all flew the nest okay!

They look all cute and cuddly… and then someone starts to get smushed:

That’s my Cassie-bear!  She’s just a cutie (and also my favorite, totally not a secret).

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Clearing off the memory card

I have a terrible, awful, no-good habit of taking lots of pictures and never moving them off the camera/memory card.  Not all of them need a whole post, but some are worth sharing.

Willie is technically Travis’ cat, but I love him to pieces.  We each picked a kitten out at the shelter and he picked Willie, even though he’s a boy cat and he was a little skittish.  We were only going to get female cats and we wanted cats that were going to be lovebugs (like our Clair).  Turns out, Willie is more of a lovebug than Clair ever was.  If you are sitting on the couch, he will find you, lay down, and fall asleep on your lap.  He is good at spreading around the cat-lazy.  And, so far, the biggest problem we’ve had with him is that he paws at the air instead of covering stuff with the litter.

This was one of the first strawberry harvests from our garden.  Last year, I planted 6 strawberry plants (two varieties) and got just a few berries from them.  Over the course of a year, the plants spread out and took over half the raised garden bed.  This year, I probably pick a handful of ripe berries every week.  Never enough to make a dessert or jam, but certainly enough that we both get to enjoy them.  I wish I knew what varieties I planted – one makes little berries that are super sweet, the other one makes nice, big berries that are still sweet, but not as sweet as the little ones.  Every now and then, I come across a berry that is overripe. Those go to the chickens, who fight over it and chase each other around until one of them finishes it.

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Barbeques Galore class – our return

Thanks to the generosity of Denise, the coordinator for Barbeques Galore’s outdoor cooking school (which is held inside the store, not outdoors, but goes over the concepts of cooking outside), we were invited to sit in on a class to check out some of their new menus and new instructor.  I can’t remember if we first found out about the classes because I was buying a gift for Travis or if he was buying one for me, but we really enjoy them.  They have classes during the week and on the weekends, you get to eat everything that gets cooked, and you get a 15% discount if you go shopping after the class.  We’ve actually held off on purchasing bbq accessories if we know we’ll be taking a class in the near future.  Oh, and it’s BYOB, something that everyone takes full advantage of.  The nice thing is, if you forget (or didn’t know, like us the first time we went), there’s a World Market right next door so you can run in and purchase a beverage of your choice.  The class does put out iced tea and water, as well as veggies and dip and a bread spread.

The last time we took the class, Rich Schmitt was the instructor.  He’s still there, but they’ve added a new chef so when we were invited a sneak peek back into the classes, we figured we should see what John Cardona brought to the mix.  John’s a little younger, a little edgier than Rich, but he’s fun to talk to and turned out amazing food (except for a queso fresco ice cream I wasn’t very fond of… I think it was too savory for my tastes).

We purchased a class gift certificate for our friends to take a class, since they will be celebrating their second summer with a backyard and new grill this year.  Whenever they pick a class, we’ll most likely go with them.  It’s more fun to go with a group of friends, but I also just like going!  You never leave hungry, you might leave a bit tipsy, and you will always learn something new.  Even if you think you know almost everything about food.

So far, the only location in San Diego that offers outdoor cooking classes is the one in 4S Ranch.  That and World Market are the only reasons we even go up to 4S Ranch!  It’s a class that involves big grills and lots of meat – what’s not to love?  Plus, it’s easy to convince guys to take a cooking class with you because it’s all about grilling!  I think the classes are different than other cooking classes/demonstrations out there (except for the Sushi class at The Prado – very hands on and fun!) and make pretty fun gifts.  I’m just sad we keep missing their leg of lamb class.  That would be fun.

things of late

Can you feel busy and lazy at the same time?  I think I’m going to declare that such a thing is possible.  Because that’s how I feel at the moment.  So busy trying to finish up house projects before I lose motivation, yet feeling lazy and just wanting to sit on the couch and watch tv (like the Torchwood:Children of the Earth thing I watched and am now wondering what I’m missing not watching the regular series).  And so, due to #1 on my list of things my brain wants to ignore:

  • There are so many pictures on my camera that I need to download and file.
  • Including pictures of tasty food we’ve either eaten or I have prepared.
  • Like the perfect summer dinner from last weekend where I made the best appetizer from garden tomatoes, basil, garlic, and non-garden burrata (because I don’t have a miniature cow)
  • It has been crazy hot. Sticky hot. But it’s supposed to cool off this week and I’m looking forward to that.
  • The bathroom project is finished. Mostly because T worked hard over the weekend cutting baseboards and is now caulking them.  I washed the shower doors!  It looks awesome and I love my new toilet.
  • I am tired of house projects.  I proposed no new projects next year.  I’ll probably forget by then.
  • I still want chickens.  I’ve started the process of building a new raised garden so I can clear out the prospective chicken space.  It’s hard work moving a raised garden.  Also, apparently parsley doesn’t like to be moved.  I think it’s dead.
  • T is going to Mammoth for Bluesapalooza this weekend.  I’m a little sad I’m not going (too much work, not enough time off, fear of losing my job in this crazy economy. Seriously.) but I’m also looking forward to a weekend by myself.  A weekend of girly movies and eating the strange things I scrounge up when I don’t have to feed someone else.  Plus, I just found out (so did T) that my least favorite person in the whole world will be going, which actually makes me happy that I am staying here.
  • We have houseguests coming the next weekend, so I will try to get the hall bathroom in good shape.  By cleaning.  Not by painting or anything else crazy like that.
  • Our grass is starting to die because of the crazy water restrictions.  Well, half the grass.  The half that doesn’t get afternoon shade.  It makes me sad.  It also annoys me because we’ve already done so much to reduce our water use that I feel we should be exempt from restrictions.  I bet we already use half as much water as the rest of the neighborhood and now we have to cut back more?  Not fair.  But that’s life, I suppose.
  • Eating dinner outside is my favorite part of summer.
  • I think artichokes are my favorite vegetable.  Have I mentioned that T never knew you could eat the artichoke heart before I showed him?  Can you imagine how long he had been deprived of the best part??
  • I love that my dogs are always happy to see me.  Even crazy Lexi misses me when I’m gone.  I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
  • I also wouldn’t trade my boy for the world.  Or even three cute dogs.  If it weren’t for him, the kitchen never would have happened and my bathroom would probably end up half done, with just a toilet sitting on the floor.
  • Quiet nights in the backyard are awesome.  People have gone inside, kids are no longer screeching, the dogs next door are quiet, and it’s nice and cool.

Local honey

Three jars of local honey. From our shed, actually.

This morning, when the termite guy was doing his annual inspection, T moved a bunch of stuff out of the tool shed and discovered a swarm of bees in the corner. We called a bee removal guy and he showed up with a team of people (actually, two other guys and their wife and girlfriend). They pulled up the floorboard and found a huge honeycomb. Then they went around the back of the shed and found it was enormous!

They gave us some of the honeycomb and took the rest with their bee boxes. The bees that were left were not happy and we avoided the backyard for the rest of the day.

I took the honeycomb and mushed it up in a colander to drain the honey out. We were left with about 3 pints of honey! And some beeswax to chew on. It was certainly not how we expected to spend our Saturday.

weekends rock

I love weekends.  Weekends where the weather is beautiful and we have no real committments are even better.  We kicked off last weekend with some fine Irish pub grub at Patrick’s, then some Rock Band, apple pie, and ice cream sundae-makings, and a couple of late 70s-early 80s wacky movies.   We spent the entire Saturday working in the backyard – making the garden area bigger, tilling the soil and adding amendments, clearing a spot for T to grow hops, securing (and planting) lavender plants, and mowing the lawn.  We were going to build a real fence around the garden, but it would have cost something like $300.  Instead, we bought a couple of posts and T is going to make me a real gate.  The rest of the fence will be chicken wire, as it has been.  Which works just fine, in my opinion – it lets in all the sunshine, keeps the dogs out, and the beans have something to grow on.

On Sunday, to celebrate the nice weather, we took a motorcycle ride out to Julian with friends.  Well, our destination was Jeremy’s on the Hill, a restaurant in Santa Ysabel.  They serve breakfast on Sunday, and we were rewarded with some truly delicious food.  I had the biscuits and sausage gravy; it was definitely not made with lowfat milk!  But, boy, was it good.  T had an omelet with homefries, and it seemed to have the perfect ratio of egg to ham and cheese.  I also snagged a bite of a blueberry pancake and I have to say it was one of the better pancakes I’ve ever eaten.  Maybe one of these days we’ll get to go back for lunch.

We ended up taking the long way home, going through Julian (where apple butter was purchased), down Sunrise Highway, and then back home via some roads that parallel the 8 (don’t ask me, I just follow the bike in front of me).  It should be noted that our little motorcycle gang includes a Vespa, and you’d be impressed by how well that Vespa keeps up.  After the ride, we had just a bit more yard work to do, and then it was conveniently time for dinner.

Because we hadn’t seen enough of them, we also met up for dinner at Domenic’s.  Domenic’s is actually close enough to our house where we can walk to dinner, which we’ve done a few times.  The last time we did that, we took a bottle of wine (they’re running a no-corkage fee promotion) and finished it off, just the two of us, so walking was the safest mode of transportation.  But, Domenic’s is also running a special where you can order any Solo Pasta for $10.  Their pasta list is pretty extensive and I don’t think we’ve ordered the same one in the last few visits.  You don’t get a salad with the pasta, but you do get buttered, garlic carrots and the fresh garlic knots.  Between all that, you’ll definitely be full even without an appetizer or a salad.  This last time, we were talked into getting tiramisu, which was good, but not as good as mine.

After all that, it was back home for pajamas, a little bit of Book Club, and then bed.  After a hard-working, hard-playing weekend, I was definitely ready for bed.  I like weekends like that.  We got a lot of things on our to-do list done, we got to see our friends, and we had a lot of fun. 

And now it’s March.  I’m not really sure how that happened, but here we are.