Saturday, January 29, 2011

Seed Starting 2011

I looked outside this morning and it almost felt a little like spring. The squirrels were digging in the mud that was my yard and the robins were right behind them. Our robins haven't felt the need to go south this year. I even saw the fox running through our quickly melting snow.
February 1st is my official seed starting date for the upcoming gardening season. My goal this year is to stagger my starts so the garden produces earlier and continues to produce later. Hopefully I will get some cold weather tolerant items set out in the hoop house March 1st. I pulled out the bags of seeds that have been accumulating in the back of the cabinet and realized I may have gone a little overboard. My eyes were definitely bigger than my garden and some will be given away.
With all the restraint I could muster, I only planted the scheduled one meager flat. In there I have the first planting of salad greens, spinach, mustard greens, and swiss chard. Just for fun I started one sungold select orange cherry tomato. It will end up in a pot so I figured I could break it in early. It would be nice to have a tomato in May. I also planted some herbs. The herbs I start from seed generally don't do so well. I used up my last seeds of basil and rosemary. I will probably end up just buying starts for the herbs. Just to complete the flat I used up my last dwarf orange master pomegranate seeds and am trying to get a couple dwarf coffee trees to take off. It's pretty nice to actually be starting plants that will end up outside in the garden.
My one previous orange master pomegranate is growing like a weed. I got these seeds with hopes to turn them into bonsai. Nera managed to bonsai the previous set as soon as they put out leaves. This one was a fighter and came back from a nub.
Other plant-related exciting news. The little key lime is happy and getting ready to bloom. So in a year maybe I will get a couple key limes. Hey in Kansas we take what we can get.
Sam's succulent garden had a battle last fall with squirrels and robins. It took several months but these guys and looking good again. Note for next year, don't leave the juicy looking plants out after everything else turns brown.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Modern View from Palm Springs

The architecture in Palm springs is as cool as all the magazines portray it. We got into town and drive to the visitor's center to pick up a map for the modern homes driving tour.
The international film festival was going on, but everything was pretty quiet in town. We looked around some of the modern furniture shops and stopped by the Shag store.
The hotel Del Marcos, check out that door.
The Elvis honeymoon house.
We stayed at the Horizon hotel which is a restored mid-century hotel.
While showering you can see people walking around outside, pretty wild.
The courtyard at the Horizon.
The coolest hotels have triangle-shaped pools.
The Kaufman house.
We looked through the gates at the Orbit Inn.
Sinatra's place.
Swiss miss A-frame.
Not on the modern homes tour, just a regular house for Palm Springs.
And another one.
and another one, with a butterfly roof.
Love the driveway.
Sun coming up over the mountains.
And this what we came home to.
If you like modern architecture, Palm Springs is pretty great.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Warning: This Post May Cause Cancer in the State of California

I'm so glad we don't live in California - everything out there causes cancer! There was a warning on our fridge in the hotel not to use it for dairy or medicine. There was a warning on the jet bridge that the air in the jet bridge may contain jet fuel and jet fuel causes cancer. There was a warning on the outside of the hotel that food and drink served in the hotel may cause cancer. Everywhere we turned, there was a warning sign for something that was trying to kill us.

On our way to Palm Springs, we saw a giant find farm. Huge.
Here's a shot from our hotel balcony in San Diego.

We found a DWR Bambi parked on the side of the street in Palm Springs.

A cool bridge on our way to Palm Springs. I'm a sucker for a concrete arch bridge.

We saw lots of birds. Lots of big birds.

An avocado stand on the side of the road, not too far from the dinosaurs we found.

Another big bird.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Few Living Things in January

It's cold and since nothing is growing, I have started growing a few things.
My key lime tree was getting lonely so I picked a few other dwarf citrus trees. I picked up a Meyer lemon, Kaffir lime, and a variegated pink lemon. They have been potted up a week and are all looking healthy. Maybe this time next year we can harvest some fruit.

When winter comes I tend to bake more bread than during the summer. This year I did a little experiment to bake sourdough. I created some yeast traps using flour and pineapple juice and set traps in the kitchen, bathroom, and garage. The low pH of the pineapple juice prevents unwanted bacteria from growing. Until now I have never gotten any yeast to take. Until now.

This time the pineapple juice helped and I got some viable samples. Dormant yeast takes 4 to 5 days to wake up so you have to be patient.

Here is a time lapse after their second feeding.

The bathroom sample was more reactive sooner.

Over night they all popped their lids.

I made a big bunch of starter for the bathroom specimen and used a generic sourdough bread recipe.
Hey, it worked and is sour. San Fransisco sourdough is very sour. Winter yeast are less spicy than the warm weather or older versions. I am going to try again in the summer and see if the flavor changes.
I think this is a good way to see what a house tastes like. So far I have only baked one sample and I will be trying the other two and see which location tastes better.
It was a little cool in the kitchen and the rise was pretty slow with small bubbles. The taste was subtle and nice.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sam and John's Big Adventure

It's been awhile since we posted. Things have been really busy so here is a quick update. Last weekend we took a quick trip to San Diego and drove to Palm Springs for some modern architecture. The full update will follow shortly.
You never know what you will run across in the desert. We stopped for gas and Sam got into trouble with a roaming T-Rex.
Naturally, I saved her.
Since Sam didn't watch classic cinema as a child, she didn't understand that there was something special about these dinosaurs. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I had seen them before. OF COURSE! These were the dinosaurs from Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Pee Wee was chased from the diner by Simone's crazy boyfriend. Afterward she headed to Paris.
I am a magnet for finding cool stuff while driving. Dinosaurs from Pee Wee's Big Adventure, check. My life kind of seems more complete, what to do now?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

2010 was a good year for us. 2010 was less about doing work we had to on the house and more about having some fun. So I thought I would steal a good idea from our friends over at Robin Hood's Hideaway and do a recap. Here's our first 2010. The major happenings for 2010 were parties, races, good food, traveling, and generally having fun.

January started out cold and snowy. We had some frozen pipes and I cut the back out of our closet.

In February we traveled to Texas where I raced in my second 50 mile trail run, the Rocky Raccoon. It was a hard race, but I set a new PR and it was nice to leave the cold snowy weather for a weekend.

In March the weather warmed up some and I worked on building the raised beds for the garden. We ended up building 5 4ft by 8ft raised beds hoping to keep the garden under control.

In April I traveled some for work and the garden kept growing. We traveling to New Orleans where Sam raced in her third Ironman 70.3. Even though she managed to swim through some rusty sheet pile, she got a PR and had a good race.

May was spent working in the yard and getting ready for our first party of the year. I finished some concrete planters for the side deck. Sam filled them so they looked right out of a magazine. Everything was planted in the garden and we harvest our first vegetables of the year.

In early June we worked furiously getting the house ready for the first annual tiki party. We had 50 or some friends over for a welcome to summer blast.

I finished one of my favorite concrete projects. I build a green top for a patio tulip table.

Also in the end of June we traveled to Italy for a conference and some much needed relaxation.
By the end of June the garden had become well established and was starting to look like we were having an attack of the killer tomatoes.
July saw one very hot and unsuccessful race by John and l lots of vegetables coming from the garden.
We came back from Italy to find some soft baseboards in the kitchen. After further inspection the previous January's cold weather had split the supply line to the dishwasher. Lots of bleach and a new dishwasher later everything was back to normal.
Also in August I did my first triathlon. I had fun and it was a nice break from just running. It gave Sam a chance to watch a race, usually it is the other way around.
Also in August the garden had become a giant unruly mess. I had to venture into the forest to find tomatoes.
In September we ventured to Oklahoma for Sam's second big race of the year. Although it got pretty hot towards the end, Sam managed another PR at the 70.3 distance.
In preparation for colder weather, I insulated and sealed the overhang by the tub. Hopefully this keeps our pipes from freezing this winter.
2010 brought one happening I never expected. In October I had the opportunity to marry a couple friends of ours. The ceremony was very nice and much to my concern, legal. After being sick and undertrained I dropped out of the Heartland 50 at mile 25. Until this year I hadn't dropped from any race, but my schedule didn't allow the training I needed. But, I raced another 50 miler at the end of October and set a new PR and took 3rd place. With some peer pressure I signed up for the rocky 50 miler again in february.
November weather was pretty good in Kansas City and we spent some serious time outside. Sam did her first adventure race and loved. She also was part of the sock monkey relay team at the Kansas City marathon. Roe Circle raised the bar for yard day by renting a man lift to do tree trimming. I had much appreciated help clearing all of the scrub trees in the backyard. They were blocking half of the garden so it will be interesting how things grow next year.
In December we had our second party of the year. We welcomed winter with beer, cheese, and brandy old fashions. Sam raced in her second adventure race in so many months and started looking towards her engineering exams next year. The blog got our first national exposure linking to a post about our new electric composter. In preparation for one of next year's projects, the second bathroom, I installed some convieniently-sized shelves.
The house looked very festive as we wound the year down.
All in all 2010 was a good year. It's over and let's hope 2011 is even better. Happy New Year!