I’ve moved

In the interest of learning new things, I’ve moved. Hope to see you on the other side!

It’s Friday, I’m in Love

It’s that time again. Here’s what I’m loving this week. Happy Friday, everyone!

1. Yoga for Flexibility

This two-session practice is included on my Gaiam Yoga for Beginner’s DVD and led by Patricia Walden. This beginner’s practice has one session devoted to back bends and one to forward bends, with each session starting with some warm-up poses. My back-bending capabilities are not so great, but I can tell I’m getting better. I’m much better at forward bends but still have lots of room for improvement. This DVD takes me through 80-90 minutes of slow, deliberate stretching. Along with this DVD, I’ve been enjoying these  back bends posts on one of my favorite yoga blogs, Beginner’s Mind (posts here and here).

2. Peach, Blackberry, and Blueberry salad

Photo credit: Sugar Apple

I recently wrote about this peach salad that is to die for, but I’ve been enjoying peaches many other ways as well. One in particular, another salad: peach, blueberry, and blackberry salad for breakfast. This is so easy I can make it in the morning before leaving for work. Here you go:

  1. Cut up one large or two small peaches into 1-in. chunks.
  2. Grab a large handful (about 1/2 cu.) of blackberries.
  3. Grab a small handful (about 1/4 cu.) of blueberries.
  4. Gently mix and eat.
Sound too simple to be good? Well, it isn’t, and it’s the perfect way to enjoy the best of summer fruits that are ripe right now. Head to your local market tomorrow morning, grab these ingredients, and make a healthy breakfast. If you don’t live near peaches, any stone fruit (plums, nectarines, etc.) would be good in this.

3. Tarragon 

Photo credit: Butterfly Rainforest

What an under-used herb! I grow some in my herb garden, and it smells so fragrant and makes such pretty yellow flowers. Lately, my husband has been adding it to our homemade bread, and it is delicious! And as a perennial, tarragon is in my favorite class of garden residents.

4. The Beach

Photo credit: floridaflorida.org

Edmond and I were invited on a July 4th beach trip with some friends and had The. Best. Time. We don’t get to the beach very often–it can be quite pricey and is nearly 6 hours away–but when we do, it’s worth every minute of that drive. And this time, we were fortunate enough to get invited by friends with a beach house, saving on hotel costs. Score! If you ask me any other time of year, I’ll tell you I’m not a beach person, that I like cities, countryside, mountains, or anything else more, but each time I go to the beach, I’m reminded of how wonderful it is. There is nothing better than having your toes in the sand and being steps away from cooling water when it’s 100 degrees outside. And the blemish-free skin, thanks to the salt, sand, and sun, isn’t too bad either!

5. Netflix Streaming

Image credit: Gaming Bolt

We’ve had this for a while, but I’ve been tearing it up lately watching hilarious movies, thought-provoking documentaries, and entire TV shows. Currently, I’m watching My So-Called Life. I’ve also watched two yoga documentaries (Enliven Up! and Ashtanga, NY) this way and tons of education, religion, and cultural documentaries (Nursery University, The God Who Wasn’t There, and Food, Inc come to mind right now). And I caught Hot Tub Time Machine a few weeks ago–so silly and fun. If you don’t have Netflix Streaming and have the capabilities, you should sign up right away. It’s free if you already have a Netflix account. And I love, love, love, free stuff!

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On Forgoing Yoga for Furniture

I’m no stranger to second-hand stuff and add a piece or two of consignment/thrift furniture when I find something I like. Sometimes a piece fits in a room perfectly, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve learned this the hard way and am trying to be choosier. It’s been a hard lesson, but I’ve come to realize that unless I just love a piece of thrift-store furniture, I need to pass it by despite it’s enticing $25 ticket because another $25 piece will just take its place.

In small-town Mississippi, I don’t come by fabulous furniture finds very often. Craigslist turns up more duds than studs, for sure. So, when I see something I love (and at the right price), I grab it ’cause it’ll be gone in 5 minutes. Case and point: right after Edmond and I bought our house, I went to the local consignment shop and saw this amazing (ah-may-zing) bedroom suit circa the 1960s. A double (or queen?) bed frame (head and foot boards), dresser, and two nightstands that were spot on for the mid-century Danish look we all love so much. And all for $270. I loved it! Except we were on our way to a furniture warehouse to look at sofas and weren’t really planning to replace any bedroom furniture at the time. So, I skipped it. We went to the warehouse but weren’t inspired by the sofa selection. The next day, I went back to the consignment shop to grab that bedroom suit because I figured we’d eventually replace the guest room furniture and I’d never find something this awesome at the small price tag, but it was gone. Gone! In a matter of hours! I asked the owner, and she gave me this sad little look that said, “You consignment-furniture newbie, you.” And then she really said, “You’re the fourth person who has come in about that bedroom suit. When you see something on consignment, you better grab it before it gets gone.”

So, lesson learned. Yesterday I went to lunch with some friends at a local restaurant that has an amazing (there isn’t a better word) leather sofa I envy every time I go there. It looks kind of like this but leather.

Image credit: Room and Board

I jokingly told my friends I wanted to steal it. They offered to drive by while I hoisted it in their car. We had a good laugh. (Perhaps you had to be there.) Anyway, I left, yet again, without the cute, yellow sofa.

But when I left work and was heading to yoga class, I passed a local thrift shop that frequently puts merchandise outside and saw this:

Brown, tufted-leather sofa

As I passed by, I thought to myself, “I’ll stop by tomorrow on my lunch break and see how much they want for it,” but then that consignment lady’s “look” came back to me, and I knew I had to stop then. So I did. She wanted $75 for it, I bargained to $65, and the next thing you know, I have a new, in-great-condition, mid-century sofa in my den. The nice shop owner delivered it to my house for $5 (we don’t have a truck), so I guess I really paid $70. Still a steal in my book, though.

Some things about the sofa:

  • It has a wood frame that is in good condition but could use staining.
  • The leather is a dark chocolate and in good condition.
  • Except for one place where a seam popped and has been temporarily repaired.
  • The previous owner is completely crazy to have not taken it to the consignment shop where it would have sold for much more than $65.
Here’s what the room looked like before:

Before

Not terrible, but not great. We spend a lot of time in this room as it is the room with the DVR, and this little loveseat is jut not conducive to lounging.

And here’s what it looks like now:

After

Much better, huh? I think so. And this one will be so much easier to clean and keep from smelling like dog. Also, I can stretch out completely–very lounge conducive.

Here’s a picture of the rip:

Popped seam

The previous owner did an okay patch job, but I plan to call an upholstery person to see about getting the seam fixed. Otherwise, there are no scratches on the leather. Score!

This sofa fits in perfectly with my other consignment purchases in the room:

A mid-century end table ($35), a mid-century-inspired frosted-glass vase ($3?), and a big lamp ($15). Sorry for the crappy camera angle.

End table, lamp

And another end table ($35), period unknown but looks like maybe the 1970′s. Please ignore the plant in obvious need of water.

End table

Record-player table from the thrift store ($25). I’m guessing 1970′s here too, but I’m not sure.

Accent table

And a floor lamp ($20).

Floor lamp

The green loveseat is circa sometime in the 1970′s and has seen better days, but I haven’t parted with it yet. I’m a big fan of the winged back and slim arms, but it desperately needs to be recovered. I’ve moved it to a different wall for now while I decide it it will go away for good or be reupholstered.

Old loveseat

I’m a big fan of the way the new sofa looks in our dated, knotty pine den and am just giddy over the $65 price tag. I hated to miss yoga, but I’m glad I didn’t waste my meditation thinking about a couch. I did some yoga at home and enjoyed lots of peace and comfort on my new sofa!

New sofa

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Growing Garlic for the First Time–Harvest Time

I finally pulled the garlic. A lot has happened since I planted it, so let’s take a look at its 8-month life.

Baby Garlic’s Life

I ordered the garlic from Seeds of Change and got the cloves in the ground in November. You can read about the planting, varieties, etc. here.

Not long after planting, the garlic began to sprout, and these shoots lasted all winter–not even two heavy snows could kill them.

Early garlic shoots in December

Adolescent Garlic’s Life

Once the weather warmed in spring, the shoots really took off and started putting out many leaves and eventually scapes.

Curling garlic scape

The scaping was so very fun. At first, the scapes would curl a little more each day making neat spirals like the one above. Then, just like that, they started straightening out. Those tight spirals began to uncurl and after a couple of weeks, stood straight up preparing to flower.

Adult Garlic’s Life

Garlic flower (with butterfly friend)

If you’ve never seen garlic flowers, the above picture might be a little deceiving. Imagine less flower and more poof. The flower is really a big (or small, sometimes) poof of teeny-tiny little garlic cloves. Like this one:

Hardneck head

Each of these cloves will make a new plant, but I’ve read that these are best started in greenhouses. I’m too lazy for that. I much prefer planting seeds in the ground over planting them in a fake ground (greenhouse) just to have to replant them in the real ground later. That’s for gardeners without day jobs.

Senior-Citizen Garlic’s Life

After flowering, came the pulling (finally!). I pulled a few heads early to test the waters, and I pulled everything else this week. Here’s a shot of the early pulls.

Hard- and softneck garlic

You can see the hardnecks make much sturdier stalks while the softnecks flop over (or dangle when held). They were properly named. Yay, botanists!

The softnecks aren’t expected to flower unless under stressful situations, and I only had one little guy shoot up a flower. Considering this was my first time to grow garlic, I consider only having one stressed-out head a success. What a pitiful little attempt at a flower he made, though, so maybe he wasn’t too stressed. Or maybe he was very stressed. Either way, sorry, man.

Softneck flower

Mostly, the softnecks looked like this:

Softnecks before pulling

Not the prettiest thing in the world, right? What was once lush and green (scroll up to curling scape to see) eventually died and fell over. If you’re wondering what happened, just imagine the process of daffodils (and most other bulbs)–they send up greenery early, then flower (or not), then flop over and turn brown and shrivelly. Same thing. But with food (aka, end of Garlic’s life)!

Now, before we look at the harvest, a word on letting garlic flower:

Most growers suggest not letting the plants flower. They say to cut off the scape as soon as it emerges, so the plant pulls more energy into the bulb and doesn’t waste effort on the flower. The scapes are edible at this stage, too, so it’s a bit of garlic foreshadowing. Some growers prefer to let the garlic flower, claiming it improves the flavor of the cloves. To-maa-to, To-mah-to is what I say. You still get garlic at the end of the day, right?

Were I a commercial grower and in need of large cloves to entice Walmart shoppers, I would probably cut the scapes. But I’m not. Also, once the scapes starting curling, I just couldn’t go and decapitate them all. It seemed rude and definitely would have hampered their creativity. So, I let them flower. All of them. Do I have some small heads. Yes, but I also have some large ones, making me wonder if the flower stalk really affects the size of the head all that much.

Some people also claim that garlic must, under any and all circumstances, be pulled as soon as 70% of the leaves turn brown. “Lest it rot in the ground!” they holler. Geez, folks, calm down. If it can withstand heavy spring rains, it ain’t gonna rot in the dead of summer when rain is spotty. In order to wait for the flower spikes, I let about 90% of the leaves die on my garlic (okay 100% on some of it), and nothing appears rotten. Also, the latter heads were a cinch to pull, no tools required. Earlier pulls required some digging. Even more reason to let some extra leaves die.

And a word on my growing methods:

  1. Separate cloves in heads of garlic
  2. Plant cloves 2-3 in. apart in ground with pointy end up.
  3. Cover with dirt and mulch.
  4. Water every so often until it sprouts.
  5. Wait for 8 months.

Seriously, it was that easy. I didn’t fertilize at all (I do have good dirt, though), and I never watered again once it sprouted (about 2 weeks after planting). So easy there is no excuse not to plant garlic every year.

We’ll cure most of it, but we’ve eaten some fresh already. Fresh garlic is a little more difficult to peel, but it tastes delicious. We’ll definitely be planting more this fall–maybe from our own stock or maybe from a new order. Depends on how much we eat by then.

And the money shot. Here I am with my garlic harvest.

Me with my garlic

All told, I harvested about 25-30 50 heads of garlic (didn’t count, though), which means several a few cloves didn’t make. That’s okay, though. That’s just what happens when you grow something from seed (or clove, in this case).

Here’s a close up to get your mouth watering:

Just-pulled garlic

Anyone ever grown garlic before and want to weigh in on the flower vs. decapitation argument? Or anyone want to share some tasty recipes using garlic (vegetarian, please)?

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It’s Friday, I’m in Love

So, I figured, “Why not make this whole ‘It’s Friday, I’m in Love’ thing official?” No reason really came to mind, so it’s official, I’m going to give my weekly favorites on Fridays. I like the number five, but I may not always stick to it. Previous Friday loves here and here.

Peach, Red Onion, and Basil Salad

Salad to share

I realize this doesn’t sound like foods that complement one another, but I promise they do. I made this on a whim a few days ago, and Edmond and I loved it so much I made it again last night. We’re lucky to get fresh peaches from a road-side stand (so very much better than those from the grocery store), red onions from the local market, and basil from our herb garden. If you can come by some tasty peaches, definitely put this on your to-eat list. It is excellent and super-duper healthy. Recipe here.

Bar Designs for the Home

Photo credit: Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Edmond and I would love to have a pretty (okay, so he would probably say “awesome” instead of “pretty”) bar area. My wishes: neatly lined bottles, pretty, vintage glasses, mirrors. His wishes: a kegerator, tap handles, and wall-mount bottle opener. We have some design kinks to work out, but we’ll get there. I’m loving this re-do from Home Design with Kevin Sharkey (before and after pictures through the link).

Moxie and Oliver

Photo credit: Moxie and Oliver

I wrote about this Etsy shop a few weeks ago, and sweet Husband bought me the above clutch for our anniversary (3rd year gift is leather). Just in case you’re interested, I got him one of these. We’re both really happy with our gifts. I’m especially thrilled with the bird on mine! We went out for brunch on Sunday, and I felt very hip with my cute little clutch.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W570

Photo credit: Amazon

For Christmas, Edmond and I received some American Express gift cards and have been trying to figure out just what we wanted to buy with them. We’ve thought of just about everything short of a trip to the moon but finally settled on a new digital camera. We’re both suckers for the real-film kind but never carry ours anywhere because it’s too big and bulky. Also, our old digital camera was about 10 years old and had seen better days (and at only 4-megapixel capability, we were in need of an upgrade). So, we found this camera on Amazon and decided we’d like to have it (also we had an Amazon gift card that we could attribute to the cost). Plus, the camera was originally priced at $349, and was marked down to $199. With our $75 Amazon credit, we could snag it for $125. So, we tried, but Amazon doesn’t allow split payments, meaning we couldn’t use our American Express gift cards. So, we thought, “We’ll put it on the credit card and then use the AE cards to pay the credit card,” but Chase wouldn’t allow that. So, we were stuck. We eventually went down to Walmart (my least favorite place in the entire world but the only camera source in our town) to see if they had the camera. They didn’t, but they did have the Cybershot DSC-W570, and were happy to let us use two gift cards. We aren’t tech saavy enough to really know the difference in cameras, but this one is so much better than the one we had. (The salad picture above is one of our first pictures with the new camera.)

Shiner Ruby Redbird

Photo credit: Daily Beer Review

I’m loving the summer seasonal Shiner beer. It’s refreshing, which is especially good in the summer. And it has a grapefruit flavor, which will sell me on anything. I’ve been drinking it for weeks and will be oh so sad when it’s discontinued. Some might consider it a girly beer (like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale), but those people are just being lazy about judging beer, i.e., light in color and grapefruity must be girly. (Side note: For a real girly beer, try Abita Strawberry. Good but definitely girly). The husband, who is quite an authority on beer and writes about it here, isn’t such a fan of Ruby Redbird. That’s okay, though. Just means more for me. Also, isn’t that such a pretty label and cap? I sure think so.

There you have it, folks. What are you loving these days?

Happy Friday!

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