Home Grown Deliciousness

Some of our tomatoes are finally ready! Peter surprised me with a little appetizer the other night made of yellow tomatoes, shallots, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. The mixture was served both chilled and also toasted on sourdough – delicious!!

The yellow tomatoes are going crazy and the reds aren’t far behind

Weekend Work

Baylor and I did a lot of yard work this weekend. Her contributions are along the lines of:

1. Don’t pull the plants out that have just been planted

2. Play in a big bucket of water

3. Water the plants. The house. The patio. And herself.

But we did get a lot new color in that will hopefully last at least until it’s 110!

Beautiful Salvia and Portulaca – a favorite!

I love that you never know what color the flowers will be


Finally getting bigger berries – these are aaalllmoosst ready!

Fresh Pressed and It Feels So Good

I wanted to take a minute and say thank you. Thank you for my friends and family who  faithfully click the link to The Goon Room despite already getting the posts in email form just to boost the number of hits. Thank you for Word Press choosing to feature TGR on Fresh Pressed and thank you to all the new readers who have subscribed. Lastly, thank you for all the wonderful comments. I hope to bring a little laugh to your days for many years to come!

And now for some business! The delicious lettuce table  featured in yesterday’s post was an obvious hit. So my sweet hubby Peter volunteered to write up the instructions for building the table for anyone that is interested. I will however warn you that the supplies may shock you.

When I asked Peter to build me the table, he was super excited. Little did I know that the process would include not only the supplies to build the table, but it would also include a new top-of-the-line miter saw. A table to mount the saw to. Several new tools including a staple gun (the version we already owned was not right, allegedly), clamps, saw horses and a lot of other crap that I’m sure came home from Lowes but was not shown to me. That said, the result was fantastic – I’m just saying that you’ve been warned! The measurements below can be adjusted. Our table is pretty big, but could be made into a much smaller version for a deck or balcony.

As far as planting, I found that loose leaf varieties of lettuce work great. Seedlings from the nursery didn’t do quite as well. Also spinach needs a little sandier and better draining soil. But the strawberries seem to be loving it so save a space for a few seedlings of berry goodness.

Supplies:

8 – 2”x4” boards (12’ long)

4 – 1”x4” boards (12’ long)

30 – 2 ½” Galvanized Deck Screws

24 – 1 ½” Galvanized Deck Screws

1- 2’ x 12’ Roll of Aluminum Window Screening

1- 2’ x 12’ Roll of Hardware Cloth

Mitre Saw (or a handsaw and some powerful biceps)

Staple Gun (with staples)

Drill (with bit to match screws)

Construction:

The first step in constructing your salad table is to cut your lumber into the following pieces (if you decided to us a hand saw, here is where you earn your keep):

2 – 2”x4”x12’ pieces

6 – 2”x4”x17” pieces

6 – 2”x4”x36” pieces

6 – 2”x4”x32” pieces

2 – 2”x4”x6’ pieces

2 – 1”x4”x12’ pieces

10 – 1”x4”x17” pieces

1.     Now that your lumber is cut, place your two 2”x4”x12’ pieces of lumber on the ground (parallel to each other) about 17” apart.

2.     Take two of your 2”x4”x17” pieces of lumber and place them between the 2”x4”s that are lying parallel on the ground so that you create a rectangle. Now use four of your 2 ½” galvanized deck screws to firmly secure the boards together.

3.     Take your four remaining 2”x4”x17” pieces of lumber and place them between the 2”x4”s that are lying parallel to create five relatively equal planting areas.  Now use eight of your 2 ½” galvanized deck screws to firmly secure the boards together.

4.     Now you get to use everybody’s favorite tool – the staple gun.  Roll out the hardware cloth and cover the bottom of your newly created rectangle with it.  Attach the hardware cloth with staples.

5.     Roll out the aluminum window screening and cover the bottom of your newly created rectangle (and the hardware cloth) with it.  Attach the aluminum window screening with staples.

6.     Now that the top of your salad table is complete, you need to construct legs for your table.  Because the top of your salad table is rather heavy you want stout legs that will bear all that weight.  To construct a table leg, take one of your 2”x4”x32” pieces and attach it to one of your 2”x4”x36” pieces with a 2 ½” galvanized deck screw.  You want the pieces to lay on top of each other on the 4” sides, meet at the bottom and leave a 4” gap at the top.  Repeat this process until you have six legs.

7.     With the rectangle still on the ground, you can now attach the legs to the top of your salad table with the 2 ½” galvanized deck screws – three legs on each side, one in the center, one three feet to the left and one three feet to the right.  The top of your salad table should rest on top of the 2”x4”x32” pieces and the 2”x4”x36” pieces should be on the outside of the table top.

8.     With the rectangle still on the ground, attach two 1”x4”x12’ pieces of lumber over the hardware cloth/aluminum screening with 1 ½” galvanized deck screws.  These pieces will give the table support and the table top won’t sag when you add soil.

9.     With the help of another person (or if you’re the tough guy who decided to use a handsaw you can do this yourself) turn the table over.  You can now attach the bottom shelf to your table.  To do so, attach the 2”x4”6’ pieces of lumber to the front and back the table legs about halfway between the ground and table top with the 2 ½” galvanized deck screws.  The 2”x4”x6’ pieces of lumber will not only provide a base for the shelf but will serve as a good brace for the table legs.

10. Now you can attach the ten 1”x4”x17” pieces of lumber to the 2”x4”x6’ pieces of lumber that you just added with the 1 ½” galvanized deck screws and create a slotted shelf – be aware that anything you put on this shelf will get wet when the table top drains.

Reduce, Recycle and Reuse

A few years ago, Peter’s mom and dad gave us two beautiful chimineas straight from Mexico. And literally with in a week, we had broken one of them.

For those not in the know – a chiminea is a little ceramic fireplace for the outdoors.

Well, WE didn’t break it, the umbrella did. If I hadn’t seen what happened with my own eyes, we probably would have never been able to piece the crime scene together. I was on a conference call for work and pacing the house. It was one of those extremely boring calls but one that required me to actually pay attention so pacing kept me from the temptation of Facebook and People.com. As I passed through the living room, I stopped to admire how nice our backyard looked. The plants were green, we had new patio furniture and of course, the chimineas. As I was watching, a small breeze kicked up – and suddenly the umbrella in the new patio table was lifted from its resting place, flipped end over end into the chiminea and landing in the small tree in the corner of the yard. Bam! Just like that, my beautiful utopia was smashed. literally. The chiminea was broken and spilling sand all over the patio, the umbrella broke and arm and more than one delicate branch on the tree was snapped.

Stunned, sad and a little too emotional to trash the broken chiminea, I convinced Peter to help me move it to a spot in the yard where I could turn it into a planter. PW was skeptical and not very supportive, but he can’t say no to my sad face/ nagging so the chiminea found a new home and became a new home for plants.

It dawned on me when I was watering it this week just how pretty the Petunias looked spilling out the front opening and the broken back – and then a little breeze kicked up….Bay and I made sure the umbrellas were all down and then took cover, just in case.

Resolution Backfire

Per my New Year’s Resolution to do more gardening so that I can show B where food really comes from, we did a big gardening day a few weekends ago. Peter completed the “salad table”, I planted the rose bushes I got for Christmas, Freesia bulbs and Amaryllis bulbs, carrot and onion seeds, and lastly prepped the raised bed to plant tomatoes next month. I also fertilized everything within an inch of their little plant lives.

All the while Baylie was hard at work digging, putting rocks in a bucket, and moving her toys from her play house to the raised bed garden and then back using her wagon. Engrossed in digging holes, I didn’t realize Bay had traveled through the open bedroom door to retrieve my favorite Tory Burch flats left on the floor. She proceeded to fill them with dirt and rocks and then present them to me with a look of satisfaction that only a mother could appreciate. She was so proud of herself, I had to laugh! Thankfully, they were easily emptied and no damage.

I’m now showing her how to fill pots rather than shoes.

Resolution Work

We had a big gardening day this past weekend (last last weekend). Peter completed the amazing lettuce table and while slightly bigger than we both thought it would be, it. is. awesome:

Stay tuned for more pictures of it filled with beautiful heads of lettuce and strawberries. Note the super cool pot shelf underneath. We were at the nursery and saw a similar table with a shelf – so he came home and just added it. I love having a handy hubby.

I worked on planting my two new rose bushes, a ton of bulbs and some seeds for veggies. I prepped beds for planting tomatoes next month and did a lot of fertilizing and cleaning up. I love getting my hands in the dirt. The smell is so earthy, it just feels good to get your hands dirty and stand back and see your accomplishments. Here are some of the highlights:

Roses on either side, Freesia bulbs in the middle and carrot seeds in a row along the front. Not sure if the carrots are going to grow, stay tuned.

Pots and pots of  bulbs, seeds and herbs:

More to come as all my pretties start to grow!

What We Wish For

The color of one of my  new rose bushes is called “Peace”. It’s soft white with a light pink edge – just stunning. Pictures to come.

When I made up the marker, I couldn’t help by make a peace sign on the rock. We all need a little more peace in our day, lives and world. What better way to channel that peace than with a beautiful, fragrant rose. And a simple little marker to remind us to sow the peace we want to see in the world.

One of my favorite prayers is the prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

My Resolutions For The New Year

I really don’t like resolutions. I feel like they make what is already a sad time of year worse. There’s nothing more depressing than knowing the fun, socializing, decorating, getting and giving, drinking and eating of the holidays are over and now I’m supposed to add a new and undoubtedly unfun thing into my life too? No gracias.

Thankfully for me, I don’t have any vices I’m willing to give up. We’re planning to have more kids some day so I’ll give up the drinking then – why put off that good bottle of wine on a random Thursday night now? I don’t smoke so I’ve got a big check mark next to that resolution and I wear sunscreen and my seatbelt so we’re good there too. I already work out and I’m near wedding weight so that’s covered. I already pinch our pennies, clip coupons and work any discount possible so that’s out.

The two things I’ve come up with are actually very fun resolutions so the chances of sticking with them are good. First, I need to get back into volunteering more. I love Pets On Wheels as written about in Give A Little Bit, but I’ve gotten away from it because it can be a hassle wrangling Travis T. Dog and the kiddo into the car and then through the nursing home. Last time we were there, a resident was coloring which Bay was all to happy to help out with. It’s always a toss up whether someone is a baby person or a dog person and this lady was not a baby person. It was a little exhausting getting B out of her room without the markers and with little screaming. But I think I build it up too much in my head and need to just take it for what it is. If we stay for 45 or 15 minutes, that’s good enough and that’s what I need to focus on.

Second, I’m going to get serious about growing our garden. I love to be in the yard and I love to grow beautiful flowers, but I tend to become a slacker on fruits and veggies once it starts to get hot and requires more work to keep the plants producing and or alive. But I really want Baylie to know that food doesn’t come from the grocery, but from the ground. So in addition to the two beautiful new rose bushes I got for Christmas, we’re going to plant carrots and scallions in the same planter. Then our usual two tomatoes, but I’m going to put in some serious effort to keep them alive past May. The jalapeno and sweet pepper that already exist and produce despite zero attention are going to get some serious TLC. Peter is building us a Martha Stewart inspired lettuce table that will be home to spinach, red leaf, butter lettuce and also strawberries – it’s my damn lettuce table and if I want it to be a lettuce and strawberry table, so be it.

Lastly, as soon as it’s warmer than 60 degrees out, B and I are going to plant the flower bulbs that I put out every year. Growing up, we always had pots of bulbs in the windows of our house. There was nothing prettier to me than the little green shoots on a dark, cold morning. Something about them made me feel like it wasn’t going to be cold and dark forever because spring was just around the corner.

I think any more than this amount of self improving would be like trying to make a sunset prettier…it would just be too much 😉