Homemade concoctions to aid in making homemade concoctions.

A few holidays ago (I have no idea which one) Charlie started building me a drying rack as a gift. Six, maybe 8, months of starting and stopping later it's finally finished and in full use! It's basically a pine frame with slots to slide trays in. The trays are also pine and I hot glued taut screen on top of each tray.  The whole thing, though large, is lightweight and easy to move, but also slips nicely into place underneath the kitchen counter. So far I'm drying snow/snap peas and fava beans for fall planting, various herbs, and thin slices of a large beet.

The beet is an experiment. My favorite lip balm has a hint of beet powder in it to tint the balm. I'm interested in trying to make my own with fewer ingredients and perhaps a bit brighter color. Wish me luck, it may take me another 6 to 8 months to get around to making it!

Wildflowers in the kitchen

When I heard the slightest whisper from spring the inspiration to play came on full force. The violets peeked their pretty little faces toward the sunshine and I gathered a cupful for kitchen experiments.

Violet petals in sugar with a hint of lemon zest made the prettiest lavender sugar!

Egg white wash over whole violets, sprinkled with sugar makes for candied violets. I'm dreaming of cupcakes fit for a fairy party!

And because  the violet sugar was so fun, I tried the same with dandelions. I don't know if the color will keep, but I'm already thinking of what other flowers I can try!

Organization, Baby Steps

Our kitchen cabinets are the original to the house, steel mid-Century GE space age things. We have a dream of having the painted at a car place, but not the funds, so they're rusty and imperfect and perfectly suited for the aesthetic of the rest of our home.

Anyway, a few days ago I was unloading the dishwasher for the bazillionth time (really probably the 3rd time that day...how?! why?!) and decided we needed a better system for the utensils.

As with 90% of the population I vowed not to be more frugal this year, so naturally Charlie needed to make a a custom sorter for the drawer, right? The old and icky contact paper needed to go, too, so I thought a nice piece of fabric doubled over would be a better alternative (after all, it could be washed when the time comes). I measured the drawer, marked the size on the fabric and quickly serged the edges together to make it into a large mat.

Not too shabby for a quick project that didn't cost an extra dime to make, huh?

Mulch it good

When I first got into veggie gardening we talked about buying a tiller and working the land that way. Since permie school/hippie camp, I've come to know, love, and totally rely on building mulch beds. Remember how I do it? Start by suppressing grass and weed growth with cardboard.

Pile on layers of mulch in a variety of forms. We have a hill of decaying shredded woody material so I use that, grass clippings, leaves, chicken litter....whatever is free and handy.

Water well, add soil/finished compost in pockets throughout the deep mulch and plant directly into the soil.The next season that whole mound you made will be beautiful, dark, rich compost, full of worms and ready for growing.

Sitting on a Stool Decision

I've added the Basil poster to the shop alongside the tomato one. Today I pick up a framed humongo print of Desert Scene...all gorgeous 2'x 3' of it, framed in a basic walnut frame. It will be the first time I've had a print that large in my grubby little paws. To say I'm excited...well, it's an understatement and I can't wait to take pictures!

In the meantime, we're still working hard on the kitchen (sloooowly). Plans keep changing based on affordability factors: with the wall one flat level, the back of the stove would show, so we opted in stair stepping it down. Also, Ikea no longer offers the oak butcher block counter tops that we have! They have a butcher-block-look-alike that is laminate over MDF, but it's just not the same. We mulled over a couple solutions, and I think what we decided on is going to be pretty cool in a Bauhaus sort of way. We made the decision through a series of text messages between C, who was working at home mudding and painting the walls, and me, supervising the young 'uns at birthday parties all weekend.

The stools in the mock up above are a possible Craigslist score (checking them out this afternoon). They are a mid-century Arthur Umanoff design for Raymor, but I don't know much else about them or him. I wasn't sure about even going to check them out, but kept thinking about them. Looking through my inspiration pictures (and then doing a mock up) I realized I'd better jump on the chance! The natural seat and airy legs will be perfect for an already busy area, keeping them functional and not as much of a focal point. We'll see!