Category Archives: photo

Coming out of a blogging fog

I haven’t blogged in a long time. Usually I’ve noticed my peaks and valleys of blogging correlate with the seasons. In the spring/summer I have more to say because I’m inspired by the ingredients on hand. This time, though, my absence was more related to an extended period of constant nausea, sleeping poorly and generally having a much less energy than usual.
What do all those things add up to? If all continues to go well, it means a new little person is going to be joining our family in early October! We’re thrilled! Even little man seems excited about it.
Meanwhile, you can see that I have my energy back. And with it came my crazy ideas, back with a vengeance. After watching a movie about lasagna-style gardening (Back to Eden, if you’re interested in watching), we decided to forego the idea of removing our sod before planting a vegetable garden. Instead, we laid newspaper, compost and wood chips directly over the grass. Here was the truckload of free wood chips from a tree trimming company. Thank goodness I said we only needed one truckload!
Memorial day weekend, with the help of many friends, we completed the project wheelbarrow-full by wheelbarrow-full. It was quite a weekend, but so far the veggies seem to be doing well. I will do a more in depth post about the process soon. For now, thank you thank you thank you to the friends who gave us their time and efforts to help us!!
Whew….having that first post after a long absence feels good. Now I can jump back in with everything going on at our crazy house. It’s feeling more and more like the urban homestead I’ve been dreaming of. I love it and can’t wait to share it with you!

New use for used Nespresso capsules?

When I pruned my lavender a little while back, I had many beautiful lavender flowers to decorate my house with. Some I chose to dry for dried lavender bouquets, others I dried for making lavender sachets to give as gifts, and others still I made into fresh flower arrangements. Some ended up being too short to use in my other bouquets, but I (obviously) could not throw them out!

I made myself an espresso and mulled over where they would go. See all those little holes in the top of a used Nespresso capsule? How perfect! I decided to stick my lavender stems in the used Nespresso capsule to hold them upright, and then put them in cleaned out baby food jars. (The one on the end didn’t get a baby food jar because I put most of them away, waiting to be made into candles and I didn’t want to lug them out again). The baby food jar is mostly for show and to help keep the capsule upright. I thought about watering the lavender and using the jar to catch excess water, but I didn’t end up giving the flowers water, and they ended up being fine. They just dried up and continue to look pretty in their Nespresso capsules.

This is obviously not a good way to reuse mass quantities of Nespresso capsules, but I like that it’s creative and pretty. Luckily for us, our area has a Sur La Table that recently partnered with Nespresso, so I can bring my used capsules back to them for recycling.

I’m baaaack!

If you’re a regular follower of seed sowing mama, you may have noticed that I’ve been fairly absent recently. Out of the last 3 weeks, we’ve been traveling for 2 of them. First, we went to Montana for a family reunion and less than a week later we left for Seattle/Orcas island to celebrate the wedding of some very dear friends of ours. I tried to make sure I had some pre-written posts ready to go before we left but ended up with only a few. Needless to say, it’s been slow around here. Hopefully things will pick up on the blogging front now that we’re back!

I’m working on a post about a marvelous and VERY local dinner we enjoyed on Orcas island. But until that’s ready, here are a few pictures taken from the patio of the guest house where we stayed on the island. We can’t wait to go back. Orcas was a beautiful and magical place.

Thank you to our dear friends for introducing it to us and congratulations on your marriage!!

Pruning lavender

This spring, I planted 4 lavender plants in the section between the sidewalk and the street in front of our house. That space used to be covered with concrete, but a tree root had grown too big and pushed up the concrete both in this space and in the sidewalk. The city came out to fix it for us and gave us the choice as to whether we wanted them to put new concrete in the middle space or leave it filled with dirt so that we could plant something. We thought planting something would be prettier, so we chose that. But we ended up keeping the space empty for several months before getting our act together. We like to take things slowly with outdoor renovations (or any renovations, really) because we’d rather get things right the first time. 
So we decided to put lavender there, and my neighbor mentioned that they were selling French lavender at our local nursery. Perfect! So finally, before our trip to France, I cleaned out as many rocks as I could from the space, dug some holes and planted 4 lavender plants. They thrived there (thanks to our neighbor who watered the plants for us while we were gone!). 
Mid-late summer is about the time to prune lavender back, though. This is to avoid the plant from getting tough and woody. According to my gardening books, it’s most important to prune the lavender in the first three years of it’s life. If you don’t, the plant wont survive future pruning well and new growth will have trouble developing on the old wood. 
I had never pruned lavender before, though, so I consulted my good friend Google. I found an awesome video by a lavender farmer in Oregon who walked me through how to prune a lavender plant in it’s first, second and third year. She was so awesome that I’m going to embed the video here for any interested parties (note: this is not me, nor was it created by me. It was created by Sarah at http://www.lavenderatstonegate.com/  If you’re interested in lavender, check out her website. It’s very informative.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any “before” pictures of the lavender plants. Too bad because they were really beautiful. It’s tough to see that go, but according to Sarah (above), a correctly pruned lavender plant can last for 20 years, whereas an unpruned plant will need to be replaced much more often. Tough love, lavender.

Lavender after:

Along with a curious little boy who grabbed his walker and toddled over to the door one morning in his PJs. It’s becoming a summer morning tradition, and I don’t mind one bit. 
The benefit of pruning your lavender is having your hands and house smell amazing! We now have several bouquets hanging to dry in our pantry, along with a beautiful bouquet in a vase on the table. I really need to plant more flowers in our garden for making bouquets. 

"Waldorf" Dress- My first home sewn dress!

No no, it’s not for little man. And no, I’m not pregnant. We have some good friends from college who’s sweet little girl was born just 2 months after our kiddo. They recently moved near us (yipee!), so our littles have become good buddies these last few months. Much to her daddy’s dismay, they love to give each other big open-mouthed baby kisses whenever they see each other with absolutely no prompting from their mommas.
Anyway, back when we went to Paris, my mom introduced me to the fabric district. Needless to say, I fell totally in love. In this neighborhood, fabric stores are like Starbucks in Seattle. If you’re standing at the door of one store, you can see at least 4 other fabric stores. Amazing.
I found the fabric for this dress there, and immediately knew I would use it to make a dress for our friend’s daughter’s birthday. I’d never made a dress before, but doggonit, I would make one for this occasion. I found this adorable pattern on Etsy from 5Berries, confirmed that just over a yard of fabric would suffice to make the dress, and set out to work. It took me about 4 nights of sewing to finish it, but I am pretty darn proud of it. The pattern was very detailed and included instructions for how to make French seams (which I had never done before), and how to gather (which I had also never done before). I learned so much from making this dress. Maybe next time, it will only take me 3 nights!
I ended up giving little man’s friend her new dress about 6 weeks early because I was too excited to let it sit in my closet for that long just waiting for her birthday. Happy Birthday baby girl!

Garage sale score!

Just one post ago, I referenced my ongoing search for the perfect mid-century modern piece of furniture to refinish. We’ve been combing craigslist ads for years, literally, hoping to snag the perfect dresser or credenza to purchase as a refinishing project. The only problem with craigslist is that there are so many posts in the furniture section around here that you can spend an eternity looking through posts, even if you narrow down to “dressers.”

What we’re looking for is pretty specific. Clean lines, tapered legs, ideally from the 60s. The problem is, if you search for “mid-century modern” on craigslist, you’re only going to get posts by people who know what they have, and who are trying to get top dollar for it. Well, we’re not interested in paying $200 for a dresser that needs to be refinished, so all my searches have come up empty.
Until last weekend! We met some friends for coffee on Saturday morning. On our way home to put our very tired baby down for a nap, I spotted what seemed to be just what we’d been looking for at a garage sale. I was convinced that it was already sold it was just there waiting to be picked up. Just in case it was still available, I *might have* pulled an illegal U-turn to get to it faster.
Anyway, I parked, walked up, asked if it was still available. Sure enough it was! Asked how much he wanted for it (fully expecting at least 50 bucks). Nope. He wanted 10 dollars. TEN DOLLARS! Then I had a sinking feeling because I remembered that I only had $2 in my wallet. No!! Hubby came to the rescue, though. Phew.
I didn’t even haggle with the guy. I was too giddy. I happily paid the man, asked if we could come back to pick it up within 30 minutes. He agreed, and we were on our way. Then my handsome went back to pick it up while I put the little guy down for a nap.
Here’s a teaser “before” picture for you. It will be a lot of work, but I’m really hoping I can pull it off and end up with a nice piece for our living room!

DIY Repainted Thrifted Mirror

Ever since we moved into our new house, a year and a half ago, we’ve had plans to put a mirror (and hopefully some sort of tall and narrow piece of furniture) in our front entryway. We hadn’t gotten around to finding something, and when we did look at places like Crate and Barrel for a mirror, they were too expensive and we gave up.
Then, the day after little man and I returned home from France, some very dear friends of ours were moving out of state (sad face), so we went out for breakfast with them to say goodbye. The place where we had breakfast shares a parking lot with a Goodwill (which according to my now-moved-out-of-state friend, is a great Goodwill). So in an effort to keep little man’s jet-lagged self awake longer, we decided to wander through the Goodwill. Unfortunately, we did not find the ever elusive mid-century modern dresser that we’re constantly on the look out for. We did, however, find a mirror that was the perfect size for our entryway. It was pretty banged up and the colors were (in our humble opinions) ugly. But those things are easily remedied, and it was (relatively) cheap at $13. We have plenty of leftover paint from when we completely repainted our house last year. So, we decided to paint the frame of this mirror white, to contrast with our blue entryway wall.
Of course, I forgot to take a true “before” picture. This is after I had already puttied and sanded the holes, and started taping it off.
I decided to try keeping the gold inner trim on the mirror to juxtapose the modern white with a vintagey (is that even a word?) antique gold.

Fast forward about a week, and it’s done! I first painted it in an eggshell finish. Then I decided that it would be weird to have the same finish on the mirror as the wall. So I repainted it in a semi-gloss paint of the same color. Luckily for us, we already had both the eggshell and semi-gloss paint in Super White on hand.

Having the mirror there adds so much more light to the entryway. We love it!

Pierre Herme- beyond the macaron

Ahh Pierre Herme. There is no doubt that he is king of the macaron as I’ve already blogged about once during this trip. I never really venture away from macarons when I go to Herme, because my time in Paris is always so limited (as are funds dedicated to luxury pastries) and I know they will never disappoint me.

My parents, though, rarely go for macarons and instead prefer his “verrines.” These are small glasses filled with different layers of gelatins, creams and compotes. So, for Trevor’s last night here, they treated us to verrines from Pierre Herme. Oh my am I in trouble.

Herme is famous for combining unusual flavors that actually work together. In this verrine, he combined citrus, strawberry and wasabi. Unusual, right? Wasabi in a dessert was not something I had tried before. I’ve seen it used in other savory dishes (besides sushi), but never in a sweet. Well, not surprisingly given Herme’s reputation, it worked. The biggest surprise about the wasabi was that there was no heat. Just essence. You knew immediately upon tasting that it was there, but you didn’t get a rush of wasabi heat in your nose. I was seriously impressed.

So, for a rundown of each layer, here is what we decided as we savored our verrines…

The bottom layer was some sort of citrus gelatin. It was very tart and refreshing.
The next layer was a strawberry compote. The sweetness worked to lessen the tartness of the citrus. 

The following layer was a wasabi cream. Like I said above, no heat, just essence. Very interesting and very delicious. 

On top were miniature “pates de fruits” (soft strawberry candy) and wasabi-coated cookies, with a glazed strawberry on the top. 

Pierre Herme has been called the “Picasso of pastry” and once again he has created art for both the eyes and palate.

Visiting the south of France

Last week, we went on an adventure to the south of France. Quentin had his first ride on the train, which he took to like a champ. The ride was supposed to take 5 hours, but turned into 7 hours because of various delays along the way. Nevertheless, he did awesome and the people sitting near us on the train gave him lots of compliments for being so “sage.”

We arrived in Cannes on May 16th. What we didn’t know was that the Cannes Film Festival was starting on that day, so the city was a total mad house. We overheard some people trying to rent a car that there were no more cars available to rent in all of the Cote d’Azur. Wowza.

The idea behind heading to the south of France was to get some relaxing time in the sun, instead of spending our whole vacation in Paris. Apparently, the weather had other plans for us, but it was a nice time all the same.

The first day was the nicest. We spent it doing things like this:

That was a lovely day! The spring in the south of France is normally very nice, like in the pictures above. We just happened to choose to go when it rained almost the entire 5 days we were there. And when it rains in France, it rains. It’s not like in California when it rains for 20 (maybe 45) minutes and then stops for a couple hours. It was pretty non-stop rain. So, the rest of our time there was spent doing things like this:

Oh, and eating and drinking wine. Those are always good things to do when it’s raining. Too bad we didn’t get to enjoy the beach and splash in the water more, but it was still a very nice respite from the city.

The perfect meal: Confit de Canard and Macarons

We’re still in Paris. Trevor is here for about one more week, and I have 2 more weeks. While we’re here, there are a couple things that we always have to eat. There are the usual suspects- cheese, bread, pastries…and then there are a few lesser known delicacies like Confit de Canard and macarons.

Confit de Canard is much more delicious than it sounds when you describe it in English. Basically, it’s duck legs, preserved in rendered duck fat, which you then pan fry and serve with potatoes sauteed in some of the extra rendered duck fat. I promise, it’s totally, amazingly, delicious.

Macarons are probably easier for everyone to get excited about. They are the fanciest oreo you’ve ever tasted. The cookies are a kind of almond-based meringue and they are filled with something creamy and delicious. They come in delicate flavors like fresh mint, salted caramel, rose, jasmine, rose vanilla, passion fruit…all of the possible colors and flavors make my head spin!  I have a bit of an obsession them, as I’ve already written about eating them here, here and here; and I’ve written about making them here and here. Unfortunately, the macarons you can find in even the best bakeries in the US do not compare to those you can get here, so we get our fill when we come to Paris.

Last night, we decided to live it up and have them both.  I documented the entire meal for your viewing pleasure.

Confit de Canard with Sauteed Potatoes.
Macarons from Pierre Herme (arguably the best in Paris)
Fresh mint- I love how much these taste like real mint
Chocolate Caramel- good, but not my favorite. I prefer the more delicate flavors
Rose Vanilla- The flavor was very good and delicate. But the filling was a little too firm for my preference.
Jasmine- Very subtle flavor. Almost too subtle, but still one that I will get again.
Salted Caramel- Hands down, one of my favorites. The flavor of the caramel is so pronounced, while the filling is soft and delicate. Amazing.
Rose- Also one of my very favorites. I never imagined a cookie that tastes like a flower would be so wonderful. This one is perfection.
Aaaaand, gone. If you’re wondering why the knife is there, it’s because Trevor and I always buy 6 different macarons and cut them in half. That way we get to try a good variety of flavors.