Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Refrigerator Pickles



I made our first batch of refrigerator pickles today. We planted a bunch of pickling cucumbers just so that we could enjoy this wonderful summer treat.


It seems as if the cucumbers grew overnight! One day there were none, the next there were lots!


This is the recipe I used:

Wash fresh picked cucumbers and quarter into spears. Place in a large jar.

In a saucepan, boil:
6 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup organic white vinegar

Set aside to cool. Once cool, pour over cucumbers.

Add:

5 organic garlic cloves
organic fresh dill
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Refrigerate. They should be ready to eat in about five days and will last refrigerated for several months (ours won't last that long).

*I doubled the batch so that there was enough liquid to add more cucumbers along the way.


Once the pickle jar is established, take your fresh picked cucumbers, quarter them into spears, and drop into jar. You'll be able to tell by color (darkest green), which cucumbers have been in the longest and which you'll want to eat first.

Update: After a few rotations of pickles, I found that the flavor had waned so I made a fresh batch of the recipe to refresh the jar.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wicker and Wood



I love wicker and I love wood. Either together or separate. I have always been drawn to their warmth. My trip into the big city (Portland, Oregon) last week allowed me to indulge in these affections, as I found a couple of new antique wicker and wood pieces that I adore.

The piece shown above is what I would call art. To me, it's no different than a painting on the wall as it represents a unique expression of creativity and fine craftsmanship. I fell in love with this piece when I saw it, with its beautiful bobbin turned spindles, legs and arms, and pristine rush seat.

It's actually two pieces...called corner chairs. But according to the antique dealer, the chairs were often kept together and used as a bench. I'll keep them together as well.

Since I get a lot of inquiries about pricing of antiques, I will start listing what I've paid for the antiques I buy. This piece was originally priced at $130 for the pair and it was 50% off - so I paid $65. As I said to Hubby, 'that's a great deal.'



I also happened across this antique wicker trunk. I've always loved the look of trunks like these. This one is in pristine condition, so I knew I couldn't pass it up at $40. I love that it's on old, squeaky wheels.


Even the handles are still intact.


The top is in great condition too. By the way...this happens to be the first piece of furniture I've purchased for our growing family.

We'll use it as a toy box. xoxo

The other item I found on my excursion into the big city was an antique French armoire...also for the nursery! We just brought it home over the weekend so it's in several pieces right now - photos will have to follow.

Hubby is still working hard on finishing the dining room (after work and on the weekends). He's hung the drywall and is in the process of finishing up the mud (which takes three coats with a twenty-four hour drying period in between).


As for me, I've been trying to stay off my feet. My ankles, calves and feet have started to swell significantly and the only way to keep the swelling down is to lie down with my feet up (which somehow makes my eyes close).

And as you can see, I'm growing! Everywhere! In fact, soon I will surpass dear six foot four tall Hubby on the scale - ouch.

I'm feeling quite well overall, suffering mostly from pure lack of motivation...hence the lack of posts last week. But I am getting really excited to decorate the nursery. I haven't been running around much the last several months so my trip into Portland last week was a big day for me.

I have a strong vision of what the nursery will look like (I've drawn it out on paper about a dozen times now). The armoire was the major, potentially most challenging, item to acquire so now that we've found that, the rest should come together quite easily.

I'm very excited to share my vision for the nursery with you - and will do so in the coming months!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Harvest



It was a beautiful evening last night as we picked from our vegetable garden for the first time. It's been really quite wonderful to watch the garden grow and then to feast on its delectable wonders.


I made fresh pesto with the first basil clippings - go here for the recipe.


We also picked that first fresh tomato from the vine. She was warm from the sun and tasted as sweet as summer.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Dining Room Revisited



We were busy over the weekend. Correction, Hubby was busy... I maintained a supporting role. These Marvin windows have been sitting in our barn for the last several weeks. The day they were delivered was very exciting as we were finally able to start our summer dining room project (we decided that this was to be our one big house project this summer).

When the new dining room addition (here) went in a few years ago, we agonized over the difficult decision of whether to have a dining cabinet or windows on the eastern wall. We chose the cabinet, but we knew soon after that we should have chosen the windows. Luckily, we had the forethought to have the contractor install a header anyway so that changing our minds could be an option.

Here's some snapshots of what happened over the weekend.


Here's the mock up. Hubby used painters tape to give us a visual of where we wanted to place the two windows on that wall. The cabinet (turned secretary) was relocated to the living room several months ago. I then started planning what we'd put in its place and decided on a tall mirror and side table.


The prep work.


The first light.


Hubby was able to lift the windows in by taking out the bottom sash to reduce the weight (smart). The new windows have created an entirely new perspective and view from the room.


This is what it looks like now! Next comes the insulation, drywall, molding and trim (inside and out).

And of course, painting and decorating.

I'll post the after photos when it's done!

UPDATED PHOTOS HERE!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Kitchen of Roses



Fresh cut roses are among my favorite summer things. I look forward to making bouquets for the house with great anticipation. They make the house feel as if summer has walked in.


My mom has a small rose garden from which she makes the most beautiful bouquets. You couldn't find anything more lovely in even the most exquisite flower shop. My memories of growing up with those bouquets are what inspired me to grow roses of my own.


So far I've planted the varieties Geoff Hamilton, Windemere, Glamis Castle and Heritage by David Austin. All are soft shades of pink and white.


My only regret is that they don't last forever.


But perhaps that's a good thing as it's always those fleeting tastes of sweetness that make you revel in their beauty all the more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Growing Garden



I was able to steal a quick smile from Hubby while he was out in the garden...pulling weeds.


While he went on to mow the lawn, I busied myself with other important tasks - picking daisies and taking pictures. ; )


As you can see, the grape vines grew quickly. It will be some time until there's fruit to pick, but we love the billowing green corridor of curly vines they offer through the summer.


The yellow flowers that border the garden are a variety of marigold (for pest resistance). We chose this variety because they looked wild.

And so far the garden hasn't been invaded by deer or rabbit, unless they're pruning very wisely.

As of this evening, there is one nearly red tomato hanging from one of the tomato plants. We will be sure to celebrate the day it is plucked as it will be the first taste of our new garden.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cravings: Cherry Pie



It all began with these beautiful organic cherries. It's cherry season here in orchard country so there's lots of them. After snacking on them for a couple of weeks now, I decided that it was time to make ourselves (Hubby, me and babies included) a cherry pie.


Pitting the cherries is something I really enjoy, pink fingers and all. Hubby bought me this cherry pitter last year - it pits four at once and is completely splatter proof. Good thing.

Pie filling recipe:

4 cups pitted cherries
4 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



This is the pie before I put it in the oven. I use a pie crust recipe that I learned in a class at the town hall several years ago, taught by a blue ribbon winner at the county fair. Her secret...Martha Stewart's pie crust recipe and really, really good butter.

Pie crust recipe:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup butter

Combine above (I use a food processor) until mixture has pea-sized pieces and coarse crumbs.

Drizzle 1/3 cup cold water over flour mixture and work in until dough clings together in balls. Separate into two equal parts and roll out.

Bake pie at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.


Here's the cherry pie, fresh from the oven.

I spent my first trimester in survival mode. I had to eat whatever I could that didn't make me feel woozy, and had a very strong aversion to sugar. But now that I'm in my second trimester, my dietary aversions are a little more manageable. I'm even beginning to sample a few sweet things...
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