Andria’s Birthday

Today is Andria’s birthday, and I thought I would post it here. She and Blair are going out to eat at one of the italian restaurants on their 30 before 30 list.  Maybe one of them will blog about it. I am very lucky to have Andria for a daughter-in-law. I miss her and Blair too!

The seedlings are still growing and I didn’t take any photos today, but I will soon. They are getting their true leave now. I planted statice for Anne, but will have plenty to share and also planted Heuchera or coral bells this weekend for anyone interested in a lovely shade perennial. I hope I get a high percentage of sprouting on this one. The seeds were so tiny that I am still not sure where they went when I planted them.

I walk on the treadmill and sometimes watch Rachel Ray 30 minute meals. Her meals all  look delicious while she is cooking them, but one in particular stood out so I made it. It was excellent, and took me about 45 minutes.  I am adding the link now. Try it and see if you like it. I made it for dinner Sat night. Pat, Charlie, and Max came over, and I think they liked it. Rob too. I served it with plain pretend  brown rice. (quick cooking brown rice) and a green salad.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/beer-poached-pulled-chicken-mole-recipe/index.html

If  you make it, give me a report.

Rosienose’s Garden / Part 1

My garden consists of plants I like, plants I don’t, but I thought I would, and plants gone wild. Most of the aforementioned plants I have purchased or have been given and a few I have started from seed. Many are weeds or have become weedlike. I don’t have a green thumb, but I love to garden so my thumb keeps getting a little greener each year. Some would say that I have a green thumb, but I know that I work hard in the garden that I have. Most green thumb people I know just have the touch. Okay, I plan to take some photos of my garden, but concentrate on the cut flower part. I will take some photos of my tomatoes just because I love them so much and I raise them from tiny seeds, but mostly I will take photos of my flowers and a few bouquets because I love flowers too. I never knew how to make bouquets until I started gardening with my friend Anne. She is an expert bouquet maker so I owe my bouquet skill to her. Maybe I will feature her some time. I have several gardening buddies that I want to feature. My friend Pat has a very large garden on several acres. She is extremely busy constantly trying to keep up with that. It is beautiful! My friend Margie has an English garden design in her backyard. Very manicured with wonderful specimen plants and only a small amt of grass for the dog.  Anne’s garden is a sight to behold. It is also very manicured and well taken care of. All of these gardens have minimal weeds. But not mine. Blah Blah Blah

I have two sons who both know alot of  flowers and their names. I am extremely proud of them both for many many reasons -knowing flowers is only one.

 It is February and there is snow on the ground so it is time to plant seeds. Last week I planted eucalyptus, cilantro, parsley, bee balm, and butterfly weed. All  have germinated except for the parsley. The eucalpytus make great filler in bouquets. It loves hot sun and can winter over in Oklahoma if it is in a protected place. All my flower buddies love it so I grow if for all of us. The butterfly weed is a flower, not a weed, and attracts butterflies because of its color and nectar not because butterflies like to smoke it. haha  It is especially attractive to monarch butterflies so I am hoping to lure a few more of these to my garden this year. The bee balm has a spicy frangrance, lasts a long time in a bouquet and will grow in part shade of which I have a lot. The bees and other polinators love it for its nectar, and humans use it for tea, spices and medicines. I have read that it is a good companion plant with tomatoes. I will use it for bouquets.

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed seedling with its seed coat still attached.

cilantro

Cilantro babies

Rosie on snowy birdbath wishing it was spring.

This is the monkey man face on the tree outside of my upstairs kitchen where I grow my seedlings. I named it Monkey Man in honor of Andria.

Okay this is my first time blogging. Please make corrections, additions, or suggestions. I have lots more photos and many many more seedlings to grow.

It’s raining cats and snails

Last week, we got nearly 3″ of rain at our house. And when it rains, the snails come out. Not one or two here and there. I’m talking snails all over the backyard. And when I walk outside, I step on them – not on purpose, because they’re everywhere – and it grosses me out. The sound of their shell crunching under my step is making me “squinch” my face at this very moment. We have a rock ledge out back that they must live in and come out to play when it rains. Butterball decided to make friends with this snail.

On the upside, our greens are happy. We have romaine, spinach, arugula, and a Mesclun blend growing right now, plus some cilantro and sage. The lettuce is still small, but Blair managed to pick enough leaves for a few turkey sandwiches. Everything else is officially dead with the 3-4 days of freezing temperatures last week. However, it’s not too early to be thinking about spring. It’s actually a great time to start planning your spring garden and even planting seeds to eventually transplant outside. We started our spring seeds a few weeks ago, actually right before the freeze, so they haven’t gotten much warmth yet – days in the greenhouse, nights in the garage. Oh, the cats have so kindly obliged to “sharing” the greenhouse with the new seeds, too.

One more awesome thing about the rain…we have a rainwater collection barrel now! Blair is proud of it, and it’s completely full.

If you live in Austin and are interested in getting a rain barrel, most nurseries sell them. Plus, the city will reimburse you 50 cents for each gallon on non-pressurized systems. Here’s a link to the rebate form. If you are handy though, you can build one yourself.

Sign up for Citizen Gardener spring classes

Spring Citizen Gardener classes in Austin are right around the corner. This is a program Blair and I went through last February and loved it. You get about 10 hours of training (two Saturdays with hands-on work building and preparing beds/compost bins plus one weeknight “lecture”), and then you volunteer 10 hours in the community applying and teaching what you learned. I blogged about the class last spring. I would encourage anyone wanting to learn a little more and volunteer to check it out. Spring classes start on these dates:

  • January 15
  • January 29
  • February 12
  • February 26
  • March 19

Here’s a description from the website where you sign up. It’s now hosted by the Sustainable Food Center!

This class will teach you how to turn your bare ground or Bermuda Grass lawn into raised-garden beds that are small enough to manage, but big enough to provide real food. This hands-on course covers Central Texas specific topics and addresses the challenges and benefits to growing in our climate. Learn about composting, rainwater harvesting, mulching components, bio-intensive gardening, bed-building and more in a series of 3 classes. After completing the classes students complete 10 hours of volunteer work in any one of our partner gardens in order to gain the designation of “Citizen Gardener”. The hours spent as a volunteer enhance students gardening knowledge and build awareness in their communities about the benefits of gardening.

I hope some of you decide to take the class and tell us what you think!

Favorite backyard garden pictures of 2010

Happy 2011!  It’s getting cold outside, and the garden is pretty much hibernating. We’re growing some cool weather greens and herbs, but our efforts will soon shift to getting seeds ready for spring.  Santa was good to us this year with new toys for the garden. I gave Blair a rainwater collection barrel and watering wand, and his parents gave us a pop-up greenhouse, rain gauge, and outdoor thermometer. We are ready for the new year!

To say good-bye to 2010, we’ll leave you with some of our favorite garden pictures (with special appearances from Maya and Butters). Some are repeats; others were never posted. If you want more 2010 garden pics, they’re all posted on our Picasa site.

compost

A pot of "black gold"

Hard to believe that everything was manageable at one point this spring

Onion flower

Broccoli

Beets

Beautiful to look at; tough to stomach

Potatoes, basil, and funky carrots

Costoluto Genovese tomato

The biggest tomato plant we've ever grown - Costoluto Genovese

Farmville cat does not actually like to farm

Anacacho orchid tree

Bees feed off the anacacho orchid tree

Butterball sleeping on duty

Cat nip

Cat nip randomly started growing in our garden; the cats found it

Double digging

Double digging the beds for late summer/fall

Summer squash

Summer squash and its beautiful yellow flowers

Eggplant burgers

Eating the fruits of our labor

Minorcan datil peppers

Minorcan datil peppers, a.k.a. hot

My favorite picture of Butterball in 2010

An unflattering picture of Maya in 2010

Purple hyacinth bean vine

One of my favorite plants to stare at - purple hyacinth bean vine

Green beans

A spider built a huge web outside our bedroom window

Corn

My lovely grandparents

We were thankful for our garden, cats, family, and friends this year and are excited to start 2011. Thanks for reading our blog in its first year and leaving your advice/questions. We love it!

Curried red lentil, kohlrabi, and couscous salad

Here’s a great veggie recipe if you’re looking to get rid of some spinach and kohlrabi this season. I found it on Epicurious, pretty much my favorite recipe site, and followed it almost exactly. The curry dressing is delicious and the kohlrabi added a nice crunch. It makes a ton, even when you halve it.

Here’s another good kohlrabi recipe to try: Roasted kohlrabi and butternut squash.

30 Before 30: Eat Local

Today is Mr. Blandria’s birthday! As our friend Hilary would say, he’s the “King of the 20s” (aka 29). This has got us thinking how quickly the big 3-0 is approaching, for both of us. We’re not worried about it though; we already act like we’re 50 at times. “60 Minutes” is one of Blair’s favorite TV shows. After all, 30 is the new 25, right?

Blair models peppers from Ross and Maggie's garden in Minnesota.

Our friend Janna senses the big 3-0, too, and even created a “30 before 30” list. It was hilarious and serious at the same time. “Decide when I want kids, eat at a Brazilian steak house, figure out my foot odor problem, etc.” This list got us thinking; what would be on our “30 before 30″ list?

It was Tacodeli that gave us a start to our list. Sitting there eating lunch one day, we were admiring all the local food lists on which Tacodeli appeared — winner of this, runner up of that, top 10 x/y/z. We noticed all the other local food restaurants on these lists that we’d always wanted to try but just haven’t yet. We live in a great city with tons of restaurants that embrace local food, and we wanted to support them (and eat some delicious food). Our list was born. Challenge ON!

DISCLAIMER: This is a very rough draft, and the list isn’t complete. It also comes without any research…we just thought it up on a car ride. But, we wouldn’t be embracing all that blogs have to offer if we didn’t get advice from other people. After all, we’re not foodie experts. 

The main rule is that we’re choosing places that at least one of us hasn’t been, preferably both. I know you as a reader have no idea where we have and haven’t eaten, so throw out the best you have. Give us your favorites. We’d love the restaurant to use local ingredients, but it definitely has to be local to Austin. 

  1. Top Notch Burgers
  2. Vespaio
  3. Hills Cafe
  4. Texas Chili Parlor
  5. Foreign and Domestic
  6. Wink
  7. Clay Pit
  8. Frank and Angie’s
  9. Uchi
  10. Odd Duck Farm to Trailer
  11. Cafe Josie
  12. Iron Works
  13. Ruby’s
  14. ASTI Trattoria
  15. Hyde Park Grill
  16. Hudson’s on the Bend – DONE (1-year anniversary dinner)
  17. Aquarelle
  18. 2 lb. donut from Roundrock Donuts
  19. Andiamo
  20. Food Heads
  21. Catfist Parlor: Reel Tasty!
  22. Dog Almighty
  23. Omlettry
  24. Dirty Martin’s
  25. Matt’s El Rancho
  26. FINO
  27. Olivia

Eat Local Week is right around the corner, too – December 4-11. We definitely need to check out the list of participating restaurants for ideas.

Until then, happy birthday, Blair!

Local Food Potluck at Barr Mansion

Local Food Potluck at Barr Mansion

P.S. We just attempted to pickle a lot of peppers from the garden last week, in an attempt to get ready for winter. We’ll let you know how it goes!