Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thank you very mulch.

Whilst my boys were having a good ole' time up on the roof, I was doing what I do best - unloading mulch from the WTMC.

We finally did it. We bit the bullet and decided to mulch the whole damn front yard. 
All of it. 
 No landscaping (anytime soon), no nothing. 
The yard has a gorgeous canopy of shade from our two Texas Live Oaks so very little will grow there. 
Our two 100 lbs. dogs were kind enough to remove any last vestige of grass. 
 I highly recommend this method of grass removal. That or goats. 
 If you put goats in your urban front yard, please let me know because that would make you stranger than us and I'd like to send some folks your way. (Those folks being the several who stopped by today to inquire as to whether we were really mulching our entire yard. ) 
 It took a couple of years for the dogs to do their job, but, voila!, no grass.  
Natural Gardener put their bulk soils on sale and we moved on it. 

Here's how it was looking with the "landscaping" provided by the dogs.

Check out the  old F-150 with the WTMH attached. 
I got 1/2 yard of garden soil and 3 1/2 yards of mulch. 
Those guys out there in the soil yard get such a kick out of me and my mulch rig. 
They apprciate wabi-sabi out there and, trust me, this get-up is way wabi. 
At one point Jackdaddy was kind enough (ahem) to point out that our yard was going to look exactly as it did before except the " new dirt" cost money and the old dirt did not.
I suppose he has a point. 
If you're into points, that is. 
I, for one, am not. 
Especially when it is 4 in the afternoon and all I have had to eat is one small taco and 400 glasses of water. 

Now, here's a damn dilemma I've been dealing with. 
Surrounding my two lovely old oaks are these mammoth concrete rings lovingly (I assume) installed by old man Luetkenholter some many years ago. 
He then put down a layer of plastic and then filled it with soil and then planted succulents in there. 
Bad, bad Mr. Luetkenholter. 
They looked nice and tidy and old-fashioned, but they were choking the trees
 I didn't get a photo of the other tree when I removed the ring, but, man, oh, man that poor thing. 
The surface roots were unable to escape the cement ring so they grew in a circle, round and round and round, basically choking the tree. 
I had to remove all the plants that had been planted in the top, gently, ever so gently loosen some of those entangled roots without breaking them and then mulch the hell out of the roots that were now exposed. 
You do not envy me that job. 
Now I've got to do it to the other one. 
This one looks like it's in better shape. 
 Most of these roots appear to be from the decorative plants. 
I know the surface roots are tangled some, but not nearly as bad as the other ones. 
Both trees are sending millions of distress suckers all over the yard. I brainstormed with the arborist and I think our plan will work. 
I've got my fingers crossed. 
I let the first one sit for a couple of months before attempting to do the other one and it's looking good. 
I had them pruned as well and I'm sure that helped. 
This lovely drought hasn't done them any favors either, although I've been drip watering them when restrictions allowed. 
Poor babies. 

Moving on to the bright side.

The new front pathway/steps are installed!


I'm kinda digging the look. I think I'll like it better when it's settled a bit. 
I'll get the other stock tank pond installed next week and style you with a better picture. 

After a hard day in the yard, FinnigantheCurious and I were out on the patio watching a movie. 
He went in to use the bathroom. 
When he came out he informed me that he couldn't pee because there was a roach in the bathroom.
"It appears to be meditating."
His exact words.
I leave you with that. What more could you want on a Sunday night? 
Musings on goats and meditating roaches.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How hot is it?

Would you look at this guy? Isn't that just the most hilarious thing ever?

I couldn't get a great shot because of the window screens. I didn't want to go outside and mess up his soak by scaring him off.

I use flower pot bottoms as water trays for the birds (and squirrels, obviously). At any garden store they carry these metal things that you screw to a wall or a post or whatever and you're supposed to put a flower pot in there so that it hangs down and looks nice. I just put the bottoms in it and fill them up with water 568,844,122 times a day.

It was all worth it when I saw this guy totally splayed out in there. Finniganthecurious and I were absolutely hysterical. After a while we would finally laugh ourselves out and walk away. Then one of us would wonder if he was still there and we'd go over to the window and fall apart laughing again. That damn squirrel stayed exactly like that the whole time watching us.

He's nuts about that spot, if you know what I'm sayin'.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Love and Peace and Dirt

We were on our way to the farmer's market when FinnigantheCurious shrieked,
"Gross, Mom! Look at your feet."
This is hilarious because my feel always look like this. Why he chose today to freak about it beats me.
I try. I really do try to keep my feel cleaner, but it just happens.
See? I wear boots when I garden. Really cute, pink boots, to boot!
The problem is that I am so hard on gardening shoes that these boots (as well as the 3 other pairs) have holes and tears and rips all in them so the dirt gets in anyway. And water. And leaves. And bugs.
Sometimes I just wear whatever I can find. Now lookie here, I'm even wearing socks to try and prevent foot crud! I don't know why my feet get so bad, but my hands stay relatively normal. I wear gloves, but they're in the same shape as the boots, pretty much. Go figure.
Anyway, FinnigantheCurious told me I should DO something about my dirty feet.
Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Isn't the mama supposed to tell the boy to do something about his dirty feet?
Well, I did something all-right. I took a picture.
So there!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Babysitter Day!

Every Thursday I get to have a mother's helper come over and, oh, you clever thing, you guessed it - help me. This is so fun for FinnigantheCurious and, need I say, sublime for me. No child in his or her right mind would enjoy working in the yard on a 100 degree day for 5 hours. Certainly not mine. Enter Monk and sometimes Joseph. Today it was Joseph. While they role-played Avatar for hours, I played in the yard and I got so much done! I've been meaning to build a little arbor entrance to my STBBBFO. I've really, really been meaning to hang this marvelous plaque that my mama gave me a few years ago.
I. LOVE. this. plaque. so. much.
I've been saving it until I could create the perfect spot for it and today was the day. Ta da!
Those poles are just some old bean poles that Jackdaddy had put up for me last fall. When I tore down my (poor, tired, underproducing, non-producing, parched) summer garden, I got an idea that I could use those poles to make a wabi-sabi arbor thingee. Right now it looks kinda...oh, gangly. The poles are too skinny and too long, but I'm gonna work that right on out. By the time I get some prayer flags hung up and some crazy woozits on top it will be just fine and dandy. I did my fastashell paint trick on it too. Take some globs of your favorite paint and mix it with some water and it's almost like a stain. I painted that arbor and the garden fence in about, oh, 20 minutes. My kinda paint job, friends. I think it looks so good with Jackdaddy's rocket gate. I love green and orange together. Growing up in the 60's and 70's I used to wear clothes in those colors. I'm over the clothes, but still dig the colors.
Here's the plaque. Could you just die?
I think she bought it from Chinaberry, but it's been awhile.
Have you ever seen the movie, Fairy Tale: A True Story?
Oh, oh, oh. You must. My mama and I love it. We curl up in bed and savor every moment. (Check out the guy at the end of the movie...he's still my dream boy star. Even now, especially now, that he's upper middle-aged and paunchy and balding...I love him still.

Just for kicks I'm throwing in a shot of dinner. FinnigantheCurious and I went to Boggy Creek Farms on Wednesday morning. What a jewel right in the heart of eastside Austin. Go check out that link; it is just the coolest place ever. They sent us home with a recipe for okra pancakes. They call them Hilton's Okra Fritters. If you have a 5-year-old, I suggest you use the word pancake as opposed to fritter. Not that it helped - he's no fool.
Girl, girl, girl (that is a southern, non-gender-specific phrase that means, "Dude, trust me.") they were good.
Here's the recipe:
6 T cornmeal
2 T flour
Salt/pepper to taste
1 egg beaten up
1/2 cup to 1 cup milk (I used almost a cup)
2 T olive oil (plus more for frying)
1 small onion chopped fine like Clive Owen
2 cloves garlic chopped fine like Clive Owen
1 cup okra sliced like dimes
Combine the dry together.
Mix in the egg, milk and olive oil.
Add the veggies and stir to coat them all up good.
Add the dry to the wet. You want to have pancake batter - kinda wetish.
Heat up the olive oil on a cast iron griddle or in a skillet over medium heat.
Drop the stuff by spoonfuls onto the griddle to make circles.
Brown 'em on one side, flip 'em and do the same to the other.
We slathered them with chipotle ailoi, added some rosemary baguettes and goat cheese (yes, there was slathering there too). We sauteed up some beans from the farm and added a salad of their perfect (HOW do they grow these this time of year, I ask?) greens and cucumbers.
Girl, girl, girl.
I can only cook like that on babysitter day, really. Otherwise it's just plain old rack of lamb or souffles or croquembouche.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Toadalicious Weekend

This picture is for my Mama because she has dial-up.


This one's for you.
Hope you had a hoppy weekend.
We're spending all our time bouncing between playing Wii and obsessively checking on our new toads.
Life is good, indeed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

July 2009 - Bloom Day (aka The Girls of Summer)

Isn't that so sweet and clever?
I was positive I'd have nothing to show today, but I sure did!
I'm so proud of all my girls. Such troopers in this horrid drought.
Here we go...
Sunflower, of course. Everyone's best friend; tried and true.

Begonia. Rescued from the overflowing boxes at Fuddruckers. She had flung herself on the ground in front of me in an effort to move out. Wild thing. She's a bit of a harlot with all that red in this heat.

Look at sweet little Oxalis that I have in a pot! This is part of the plant that I put on my Daddy's grave. She put out this lovely white flower just this morning. Hi, Daddy.

Lantana that would probably be HUGE if it were a normal year. Barely giving up some sweet yellow today. She's a tease.

Miss Pride of Barbados - kickin' ass and taking names. My kinda gal.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And Goodwill To All

Yes, I am sick of saying that it's soooo you-know-what outside and I am sick of hearing others say it, and I'm sick of it being true, but it is true and because of that I would like to invite you inside today for a little peek at some goodies I got yesterday at Goodwill. While I was photographing them, I also decided to share a special spot in my home with you.
First, let me try to convey to you how much I love thrift shopping. I thrift shop when I have money and when I don't. Weirdly, I don't really like to shop shop. I really only like to thrift. (Okay, Okay, I might have a tiny Target habit, but who doesn't?) Thrifting to me is all that is good and right in the world. I love finding things that cost very little. I love wondering who had the treat before me and why they got rid of it. I love knowing that I am keeping the landfills less full (conversely, Jackdaddy's wallet less full too). I also know that my purchases are going to a good cause. A win-win for all of us except maybe Jackdaddy. No, really, he is very generous with his money. (He also knows that if I'm not at Goodwill I could be at Target or the bookstore which is much more dangerous to his wallet.)
Before I had a child I would browse for hours in thrift stores. Now it's more like a mad dash with my eagle eye and the promise of a treasure of his own that gets us through it all. Finniganthecurious is an outstanding thrifter, but he is only 5 and one can ask only so much of a 5-year-old. Yesterday we went to Goodwill in search of a battleship for him. (We've been playing tons of Battleship around here and it has prompted a desire for a toy one.) I found 2 great treasures as well as 2 Sonja skirts, a pair of delicious Sonja shoes and a crazy blue dress that made me buy her. Unfortunately, no battleship. (By the way, Sonja is a friend of mine, not a brand. She always wears the cutest skirts, shoes and dresses. These all look exactly like something she might wear.) They are all so extra pretty that we arranged for a babysitter this Sunday and Jackdaddy and I are gonna go out and have a date. Oh, I used to wear such pretty things before I became a walking spaghetti/smoothie/ketchup/snot stain. It was such a good haul I just had share it with you. (Well, I'm going to share the treasures with you, not the clothes because this is a home and garden blog, after all.) That, and because it's so you-know-what outside.

HOW cute is this little tray? It reminds me of being 13. I adore those big 70s pop art flowers. I remember going down to Burge's grocery and choosing notebooks for going back to school. I always loved the Peter Max ones best with all those wild colors and shapes. They just scream HIPPIE to me. And, being a proud hippie, I listen. I'll move it around for few weeks to see where it wants to live. Right now it's by my sink looking all sweet and housewifey with the Mrs. Meyers basil dish soap on it. It will be covered with crap soon and you won't even see it's flowery goodness, but, for now, I'm really loving seeing those colors and flowers all day. Kinda like being 13 again - without the anxiety, of course.

This, my friends, is an ashtray.
Some of you may be too young to remember these. People used to keep them in their homes, offices and cars. It is a place to rest and/ or put out your cigarette. Now, you ask, why would she buy an ashtray at Goodwill? Well, hmmm, how to explain? We have a patio, you see. Now, there is something about patios and Texas and summer and beers and margaritas or Topo Chicos that gives one an insatiable craving for "just one" cigarette. I know some of you might not understand that, being anti-smoke and all, but some of us, I'm not saying who, meandautumnchrisrobertmojennydaviddanamary, but you know who you are. At those time when the evil craving comes a calling, I thought it might be nice to offer an ashtray as an alternative to the dirt. We're civilized folk over here, don't you know? Even if we do break out a smoke "ever now and then."
(Don't worry, Mama. I'm just being funny. I hardly ever smoke anymore.)

This is the spot in my house that I was telling you about. It's my little kitchen altar. It sits on the ledge right above my sink where, as a stay-at-home-mom, I spend so much of my time. The silver tray was left behind in a house I rented once. It was sitting inside the fireplace with candles on it. That's what we do with fireplaces here in Texas - we put candles in them and pretend. That, or we crank up the AC as high as it will go and light a fire anyway, dammit. That's what my mama used to do. I swear it. Anyway, I just love this altar. I've got a mermaid and a Neptune because I love the sea and I'd just as soon be Neptune as a mermaid, thank you very much. There's my bobble-head dragon guarding his treasure. I do love dragons so much. That Stonehenge thingee was given to me by my dear friend and fellow Irish lass, Mo, because we both love the old magic. The charm reminds me of the magic and of her for a doublelovewhammy. That tiny silver heart frame holds an old photo of my sweet Daddy. The garishly colored bird is one of those bird whistles. You fill it up with water and then blow and it makes the cutest authenticish bird sound. Just one of my many, many, many saved corks with a lovely tree logo on it . This comes from a FANTASTIC and affordable Chilean wine called Palo Alto Reserve. Last, but certainly not least, my little owl family. I have no idea what they are really, but I think they look like baby owl faces and I just love them. I think they're 1/2 of some nut thing that falls off trees in this area. I collected them for awhile, but Jackdaddy kept knocking them off and over and under and mumbling under his breath so I cleared most of them out except this little family that you see way in the back.


And the crowning jewel of my altar?
Why my little bobble-head family, of course. I found a whole bag of them at my local Savers store. They just crack me up. We play a game around here where I'll ask them some ridiculous question like: Does Mommy look like she's 46? Then we blow on them and their little heads reply, "NO! NO! Not at all!" Finn will ask things like: "Do I have to go to bed tonight?" to which they reply, "HELL NO, Man. NO WAY!" It's all just so endearing and hilarious. Some of them have an ear broken off which lends to the silly factor.
It's just so hard to take a bobble-head with one ear seriously, you know.
They can be quite intuitive. They have a bit of fortune teller in them, I believe. I am thinking of opening a little fortune telling business actually. As a free trial, before we are overrun with business, I am offering free readings. If you have a question that you would like answered, please post it in the comments section and I will consult with them and give you your answer. Be aware that their heads only move side to side and not up or down - compose your question accordingly.
Please do NOT ask them if it's ever going to rain again, okay?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Ha, Ha, I'm stopping now. If you've read A Prayer for Owen Meany then you'll understand. I always think of that book when I see prayer flags. I love that book. I love most of John Irving's books. However, this is a home and garden blog not a literary blog so I will move on. Your eyes have probably already glazed over and you are thinking of a quick game of online Scrabble.
I put prayer flags up everywhere I live. Prayer flags and Christmas lights. I think they are just the loveliest things. Imagine being so full of lovingkindness to think of printing prayers on flags and then sending those prayers out into the Universe on the wind.
As I hung mine up today I put a personal prayer on each flag. Most of them were for my family and friends. I put a prayer up for every animal I've loved and lost. Some of them are very personal, but here are a few I feel comfortable sharing:
A prayer for the homeless.
A prayer for all the children waiting to be adopted.
A prayer for all the men and women hoping and wishing for a child.
A prayer for all the homeless animals.
A prayer for the elderly.
A prayer for the children.
A prayer for the Earth.
A prayer for those who are hungry.
A prayer for all those who wish to hurt others.
And, of course, A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dancing the Tadpole Jig

Lookie! Lookie! We got 'em! We got 'em!

I think my friend, Erica (aka Robin Wright 'cuz she looks just like her), sent us good tadpole juju. She had just offered to bring some over when, voila!, we have some.

I could only get shots of a few of them because they flee like mad whenever I lean over. There are actually about a zillion. Smart little babies. They're so cool at this stage... their eyes are kinda wise froggy now and their skin is getting warty, but they still have that cute tail. We go out and check them every day. SO fun! I asked FinnigantheCurious if he wanted to start a notebook and record their progress each day. He replied, "Why Mama? We can just record it in our brains, we don't need a book." Spoken like a true child - totally in the moment. He's my personal tadpole; eyes of an old soul with a some little boy still attached.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What Peter said

Do you know this quote?
You've probably heard it as, "Second star to the right, and straight on 'till morning."
Did you know that Peter never says the word star in the book? Senor Disney added that for the movie. Can't you just hear a bunch of studio executives sitting around saying,
"You know, the children might not understand what Peter is talking about when he stands pointing at a star. We must tell them he means second star to the right."
Silly folks, those studio execs. Of course he means star. (By the way, did you know that Peter made those directions up on the spot just to impress Wendy? There are no real directions to Neverland, you must follow your heart.)
Anyway, I've been mulling over what quote to put on my house for about 3 years. We kept meaning to put an extra board up on the front of the house (not sure why, Jackdaddy just said it would look better and I believed him). Every time I would look up at that spot where the new board needed to go I would think that it would be a good spot for something. One night when I was reading Peter Pan to my son, I realized that I would love to put that Neverland quote up in his room. Then I realized that a quote would be a great thing for that spot. Oooo I was so excited by such an idea! It also took me about that long to find the kind of letters I wanted at an affordable price. Have you ever priced house letter? HOLY #*^#% ! Crazy, man. This quote was the first one I wanted, but when I started looking for letters I started thinking about all kinds of cool quotes that would look great up there. I went through lots of contenders before making my final choice.
If I had to choose one word to describe how I want my house to be it would have to be - magical. Barrie, when asked about Neverland, says that Neverland is simply the child's mind. A magical place where no grownup can go. A place that is different for every child. I just love that. I still have some of my child's mind, I do, I do. (I do believe in fairies!) I bet you do too.
I hope that everyone who passes by and reads the quote can remember that magical place still hidden inside them somewhere.
Or, if not, can at least get a laugh thinking I forgot to put the word star in.
Now, if I can just stand to wait one more week for the new windows! The prettier the new stuff gets, the uglier the old, ratty stuff gets.
And so it goes.