April and May, in photos

I am so constantly amazed that you can take such lovely images with an iPhone!  I’ve got a beautiful bunch of peonies gracing my yard right now and it never ceases to make my day when I catch a glimpse of them.  I’ve been running around like a crazy person for the past few weeks – celebrating several Baby Showers, training for my first Half Marathon (four weeks away!), fundraising for the New York Marathon (yay Fred’s Team!), and getting into some serious yoga.

Here’s a little summary in photos of my past few weeks:

Baby Showers…

Planting herbs…

Running…

Fundraising for Fred’s Team…

Yoga!  I’m learning to handstand, among other things.

 

 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Basil

So I made mention of this recipe a few weeks ago via facebook and instagram, but am only now getting around to sharing it with the rest of you. I will be getting into some details about what exactly is keeping me so busy lately in the next few days, but for now you’ll just have to settle for this. And when I say settle, I mean you should be prepared to drool a little over it. Unless you hate springtime, and strawberries, and rhubarb, and other such lovely things. Which would be weird, you know, since Spring is the best. But I digress.

I usually love nothing more than a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, but I went the crumble route this time for a bit of a change. Ahem. Ok, that’s not really true. I needed a breakfast that I could eat on all week and I thought crumble sounded better than pie. Crumbles have oatmeal toppings and stuff, and oats are definitely healthy and breakfast-esque. Call it whatever you want, but I’m just gonna call it delicious and let you decide which meal you want to add it to.

 

Oh! You may have noticed that I added basil to it. Well, that’s an interesting story, actually. See I had just poured all these beautiful strawberries into my baking dish and I noticed a piece of a strawberry leaf stuck to one of them. In typical Emily fashion (easily distracted) I thought “Hey, that’s pretty. I wonder if I have any herbs to throw in here…” Turns out that the only herb I had was basil, and I kind of thought that might not be too bad. And it was actually awesome.   The bright basil flavor perfectly balanced out the sweet strawberries/tart rhubarb, and I felt like a total genius. So go out and try something new. It might be awesome. Also, try this, because I can guarantee that it is.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Basil*

Serves 6-8

Topping:

1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (coarse sugar)
Zest of one lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 ½ cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ pints strawberries
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

 

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Topping: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.

Filling: Toss rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, basil, and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Remove topping from refrigerator and use your fingers to break it apart over the fruit.  This part doesn’t have to be pretty – just crumble it over top and it will spread out as it bakes.   Place baking dish on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbly, 40 to 50 minutes.

*I usually like to be very clear where I’ve gotten my recipes from, but in this case, I have no idea from whence it came.  I had this recipe saved on my hard drive simply as Fruit Crumble and I haven’t the slightest whom to credit it to.  If it looks familiar (like I may have plagiarised it from you) do drop me a line and I’ll be sure to give credit and link back.

Spring Photo Goodness

I know, I know, another post of “Springtime” photos… Can it get any more cliche, right?  Well, the thing is, spring is inspiring.  After months of grays and browns, bare tree limbs, and barren lawns, we are finally getting some color back into our lives.  Flowers are blooming, pollen is flying, and our grass is about to need a trim.  And really, it’s lovely.  Lovely, I tell you.  So just suck it up and enjoy the sight of leaves unfurling and blooms happily waving on heavily laden branches that is the annual sign of new life and warmer days that we call: Spring.

 

 

Spring has Sprung!

I’ve been so busy running back and forth from my greenhouse to watch this happening:

That I totally missed this on the other side of my yard:

We’ve had 5 consecutive days of 70º weather, I’ve had my windows open since Thursday of last week, birds are singing, seeds are sprouting, and I bought a pair of sandals today…I think it’s safe to say that Spring has finally decided to grace us with it’s presence.  So far I’ve got radishes and brussels sprouts peeking out, and also some arugula that came from my first ever seed swap.  We’ll be tied up this weekend, and the next as well, but my garden should be officially in the ground by April 20.  I was a little worried that was going to be too late, but a coworker who is a Georgia Master Gardener told me that traditionally in Georgia gardens are started on tax day, so I’m not too far off.

Happy Spring Everybody!

 

 

Home Improvements

 

Check it out, dear readers: we got a (little) tractor!  The closer we’ve been getting to gardening (and grass growing) season, the more we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to go about our new yard obligations.  Our home is on 3 acres that is mostly yard, minus the quarter-acre garden plot that brings it’s own challenge…I don’t know about you but I’m not keen on trying to hoe a quarter-acre garden by hand.  We started looking at zero turn lawn mowers, and tillers, then pull-behind tillers for a riding mower, and then we thought we might need something we could pull a broadcaster behind for seeding the lawn, and a sprayer for weed control…and you see where this is going right?   We ended up looking at  a compact tractor that was small enough to not tear up our lawn while we were mowing it, but strong enough to handle some future landscaping projects and our heavier garden chores.  We found this one at our local SunSouth dealer, in Carrollton, and it was such a great deal that we snapped it right up and hauled it home.  After much shopping around we realized that what was going to cost us the most was the implements we wanted: a tiller, mowing deck, and loader to start.   The tractors themselves were very reasonably priced, but adding implements quickly got expensive.  We chose this one because it was so lightly used that it was basically new, and came as a package deal with the three implements we needed the most.   We’ve already put it to good use removing an unwanted pine tree, cutting the grass, and some light landscaping. 

That’s our 80’s model John Deere riding mower – it was given to us by my Daddy.  It wasn’t running so he gave it to Jacob to repair…it’s not very quick or agile, and the mowing deck needs to be replaced so we use it for hauling mostly.   It’s been very useful when we’ve needed to haul dirt, or rock, or mulch, but sometimes we have less practical uses for it, such as when we need to haul the Bassett Hound across the yard, or something 🙂

Despite our murky, windy, rainy weather we were able to get quite a few things done this weekend.  The previous tenants were very enthusiastic gardeners, but it doesn’t seem like they were overly concerned with aesthetics.  You can see my little greenhouse above, and Jacob has a shop building off to the left of that photo with the aspalt pad in between.  They seemed to be concerned with functionality more than looks, because the buildings were just placed there on the edge of the yard with no landscaping or anything to make them attractive.  I appreciate the functionality, but I really want it to all look pretty as well…I’m thinking a low wall made of paving stones from the shop to the greenhouse (in front of that sweet gum tree) with a little flower bed in it, and then another paving stone “planter” built along the length of the greenhouse to hide the legs of that cabinet and make it look a little neater. 

We’ve already done a lot to clean it up just by clearing away a lot of brush and junk from around the shop area, and I know the rest will come together in time.  Hopefully spring will be upon us full force in another couple of weeks and we can get down to business in the garden. 

Did I mention how much fun the tractor is?  It’s pretty cool actually.  I might actually volunteer to help with the lawn mowing…

I hope you all are having very happy and productive springtimes, wherever you are, and that all of your projects are going just the way you want them to. Happy Spring!

 

Fabric Shopping and Local Flavor

FabricPeddler-1

I know I told you all weeks and weeks ago about my new sewing machine and how I had visions of textiles dancing in my head, and you’ll just have to take my work for it that I actually did make something wonderful (two somethings! Eeeek!) a full two weeks ago.  I made an Envelope Cushion Cover that I found here, and another project that I will refrain from mentioning until the intended recipients receive their surprises in the mail.  It was so much fun!  It was one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had to hold my finished projects and know that not an hour previously they were just piles of fabric (much like when I did this and got so excited).  It was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some more complicated projects.  I’m really keen to try out a dress, like this, or a quilt, like this.  I’m going to keep practicing with cushions and, ahem, other things, until I feel really comfortable with my machine, but after that, it’s anything goes!

I actually made my first fabric purchase from Joann’s, because I have one only about 10 minutes down the road, and it was very convenient.  But I actually had another place in mind that I wanted to check out for textiles called The Fabric Peddler.  I spent several of my college years in Carrollton, Ga, and it’s a pretty cool little town – a typical old southern town in that it’s got a great town square surrounded by all these cool old homes and buildings.  The one I had in mind is a former railroad depot that has been turned into a combination antique and fabric store.  The Fabric Peddler has been there for years, but I think the Feathers & Twigs is a fairly new addition, and I really had fun looking around. The fabric selection is pretty good, and I found two things on the “$3/yd” table that I’m looking forward to using.  I’ll tell you more about those another time, because, honestly, I had the most fun browsing the antiques.

FabricPeddler-3

FabricPeddler-2

 

FabricPeddler-1-2

I’m usaully skeptical when I see an “Antique” store, because most of the ones I wander into end up being just yard sale junk.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good yard sale, but I don’t think your IKEA coffee table that has seen better days qualifies as an “antique”.  This place was a typical consignment style antique format (one big space seperated into small areas for each seller’s items) but there was some great stuff here.  Things that were clearly aged, but of good quality, and lots of solid wood furnishings.  There was a good range of newer “lightly used” items likes those rolling pins, and some actual antiques, like the colander.  Everything was arranged beautifully, and there was plenty of room to move around.  All in all, a great little shop that I’ll be visiting again.  Hopefully soon since I found a chifferobe that I absolutely love, and if I can convince Jacob, I’ll be moving it into my bedroom next weekend…

After my browse through the store, I was heading out of town and so enjoying the beautiful weather (74° out on Saturday!  Lovely!) that I just had to stop and walk around the old part of town for a minute.  I took a few photos that I had to share some with you.  It’s hard to explain what is about places like this that I love so much, but they’re just so full of character and charm…and some other quality that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Whatever it is, I love old neighborhoods like this, and I could happily wander around for hours enjoying the view.

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FabricPeddler-7

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I hope all of you had equally lovely weekends, and a great St. Paddy’s day!

Optimistic Foliage

Well readers, I finally have my garden down on paper.  I’ve got a neat little diagram with all my notes about sowing dates, planting dates, last frosts, first frosts, proper spacing, light requirements, etc. scribbled in the margins.  Actually it’s not “neat” at all, it’s quite messy, but I feel OK about that seeing as how it’s a garden and they’re supposed to be inherently messy anyway, aren’t they?  My only problem now is that it’s still to early to do anything…too early to plant, and too early to channel my burst of enthusiasm into tangible results.  I took the dog out for his romp around the yard, and as my productivity-induced high disappated in the face of a winter brown landscape, I saw this:

Lovely Eucalyptus

Lovely Eucalyptus

Lovely isn’t it?   From that view you’d never know it wasn’t spring or summer time.  Amazing how something so simple as brightly-hued foliage can lift my spirits.   Enjoy!

The “dog days” of winter

Maybe you haven’t heard, but winter is pretty much over.  Oh, you haven’t heard that?  Because it’s 14° in North Dakota right now, you may argue that is, in fact, still winter.  But here in Winston, Georgia it’s 72°.  Seventy-two degrees people.  And that does not constitute winter weather in my book.  I’ve actually missed winter this year – I mean I have like 3 pairs of tall boots and I can hardly justify wearing them when it’s too warm for socks.   I’m pretty much the only one in my house who’s upset though.  My husband has been waiting impatiently for warm weather (and motorcycle riding/track day season) since September, and the dog is happiest when the weather is conducive to his people being out of doors with him.   And with weather this lovely, we’re happy to oblige him.  These photos are from a day last week when my husband returned from being out of town – Tucker much prefers for Jacob to play with since he’s a little more enthusiastic about it than I am.  It may have something to do with the fact that I’m usually trying to get him to sit! stay! pose for the camera! while Jacob encourages his short attention span and high energy antics by throwing things for him.

playtime

 

after it!

 

I got it!

 

How’s the weather where you are?

 

Link Love

Hi everyone!  Maybe you’re wondering where I’ve been?  Well I certainly haven’t discovered like 96 cool new sites to check out and not told you about them.  Oh wait.  Well better late than never right?

Tasting Table is the coolest thing ever.  If you like cooking or just food, really, then you should check it out.

Jim Harmer over at ImprovePhotography has one of the best photography sites on the web.  Not only is he a great teacher, but the sheer amount of information on all things camera related is awesome.  And lest you think that I’m all “quantity over quality”  – the articles are all extremely well written and informative, but go see for yourself.

Jeff Cable has the coolest job ever.  Jealous.

I’ve just discovered Cooking For Seven – it’s a really great blog with really great (healthy!) recipes.

And lets not forget Pinterest, shall we?  I mean, I practically live over there.