Friday, April 27, 2012

spring seedlings in the garden

spring garden 001

A garden update for those who were asking.
(little Rouge D'Hiver romaine lettuce babies — heirloom variety. I also have just a simple frilly green looseleaf variety. I'm lucky to sometimes get interesting mustards and other greens from Joseph's aunt, so I kept our supply fairly basic to complement those.)

spring garden 002
Sweet peas of three varieties (mammoth blend, Italian heritage Matucana, and an old spice blend of heirloom varieties), and two rows of heirloom French Breakfast radishes.

spring garden 003
Sweet peas!

spring garden 004
My chives all lush and green and ready to sprout little flowers!

spring garden 005

spring garden 006
In one pot with the sweet peas I have radishes, which I think might be these ones (I can't remember which is which) and in the other pot I have two rows of arugula.

spring garden 007
My clematis waking up, which is a purple-raspberry variety called Warsaw Nike. 

spring garden 008
My parsley and bay leaf that survived the winter and my neglect.

spring garden 009
Some everbearing strawberries I just picked up the other day that I still need to plant.

spring garden 010

spring garden 011
A buttery creamy marigold called French Vanilla. I couldn't resist. I think I'm really starting to warm up to marigolds, they're beneficial in the garden after all. 

spring garden 012
And my hostas.

How are your gardens growing? Full of lilacs? or strawberries? or just starting to sprout? Maybe you haven't planted anything yet, but not to worry there is still lots of time — just get out there!
spring garden 013

Monday, April 23, 2012

rose water pavlova & rhubarb compote

pink spring flowers 001

pink spring flowers 002

Flowers from around my house.

pink spring flowers 003

rose rhubarb pavlova 001

Rose water pavlova with vanilla bean rhubarb compote.

Okay so it looks a little like mush here, but this was one day after I made it (the back half is eaten). And really? It tasted kind of like heaven.

I got the rhubarb compote idea and recipe from the Bounty Hunter. It was super quick and easy to make and I enjoyed some leftover compote on french toast this morning too.

pink spring flowers 004
Bleeding hearts. Tragic.

rose rhubarb pavlova 002

Making pavlova is easy as can be, you just need to give it time to cool, which you should factor in if you are hoping to take non-soggy photos of it before the sun goes down.

Rose water pavlova:
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons rose water
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
Pink food colouring (optional)

Pregeat oven to 300°F. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat until soft peaks form. Add the rose water and optional food colouring. Beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle vinegar on top and gently fold in. Make one or two large 8-inch rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Put in oven and reduce temperature to 250°F. Bake for one hour, then turn the heat off. Allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven before removing.

The vinegar works to give the inside of the pavlova the characteristic marshmallow-y texture. It was my first time trying it. Personally I think I prefer the texture of making a standard large meringue and then topping with whipped cream and fruit. It seems airier and lighter compared to the vinegar method. So whether or not you add the vinegar is up to you.

Psst... check out the snail:
pink spring flowers 005

pink spring flowers 006

Sunday, April 08, 2012

papier maché easter egg window

paper mache easter egg window 001

Good morning and Happy Easter! This is the window that I did for the toy store this past month. It took a lot of time to make the giant papier maché eggs and paint them, but the trade off was that it cost very little money.

paper mache easter egg window 002

All the sweet Easter goodies. (We sold out of almost everything! Today the table looks a little sad)

paper mache easter egg window 003

paper mache easter egg window 004

paper mache easter egg window 005

paper mache easter egg window 006

There are also hanging paint chip eggs. Another project that cost us nothing, and luckily these didn't take very long either.

Next week: Spring!!

paper mache easter egg window 007

Friday, April 06, 2012

easter social

april easter 001
Hello hello! Happy Easter to you! Joseph and I spent the holiday Friday (a normal day off for us) visiting friends and family. After hitting up the local garden centre with a friend and making a fairly lousy attempt at helping her plan her balcony garden (yes! more flowers!), Joseph and I headed to his aunt's house for an afternoon visit.

april easter 002

Aunt C lives in the most beautiful real house I have ever seen. It is right up my alley as far as design, functionality and sustainability go. Minimalist, almost Scandinavian in its elements, it is sparsely arranged with very keenly chosen, well built pieces of furniture and some treasured pieces of art.

For such a cool-toned house there is a warmth one finds in good company and good coffee. We ended up staying for hours drinking coffee and sampling chocolates from around the world while we chatted about the bamboo she'll be putting into planters on the roof and adding sprouted grains to our diets.

I left after 3 hours feeling light as air. Despite the coffee and chocolate I felt a complete, full-body calm: free of all worries or commitments. I could use more afternoons like this one.

april easter 003
This piece was by an acquaintance of C's husband. Drops of water slowly washed the dye off the egg, a very fitting piece for this time of year, but one I've admired year-round at their house.

april easter 004

april easter 005
{these blossoms I should add are from a different house, a retired teacher that lives in the neighbourhood I work in. I got to know her through an old co-worker and can always turn to her when I need to know the current side-street gossip. She also keeps a lovely house that shares very little with Aunt C's, other than the finely picked pieces of furniture.}

april easter 006

This is one of my favourite pieces at C's house. A fully functional platter turned solitary art piece when not serving some other purpose.

And finally, meet Fanny and Zooey. Franny is the little one, obviously. She was testing Zooey's patience, giving him little nips on the back. And yes, she really is that small and yes he really is that big.
april easter 007
I hope if you get time off during this holiday, whether you celebrate or not, that you are able to find a little calm and enjoy the spring flowers.