Monday, September 19, 2011

The Weekend Homemaker

The arrival of fall has been very sudden this year on the west coast.  Last Sunday (September 11th) was  a lovely warm summer day.  On Monday, the 12th, it was fall.  Victoria weather usually consists of one season, spring, with a pinch of summer and a bit of fall tossed in for a little bit of variety.  The transitions are usually long, slow and awkward (what should I wear?) and I am desperate for a change by the time it arrives.  But, not this summer.  It came late, left early and was was rather noncommittal, even on the hottest days.  I wanted more!

In any case, the cooling weather has put me into a cooking and baking mode.  I haven't quite gotten back into my weekends of weekly food preparation (in true Weekend Homemaker style), but I am heading in that direction. Over the past few weeks, I have turned to oven on several times!

I've made:

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Rosemary Focaccia

Wicked Thai Chicken Soup
(I omitted the dairy and replaced rice with rice noodles)

I even baked bread!  Yum!

Of course, I can't let the last few weeks of summer go by without a few final simple summer eats.

Tomatoes from my balcony garden.

Tomatoes, freshly baked bread with local cracked pepper
cheese, chicken and homemade honey mustard sauce.  

Although I am not yet accepting of the arrival of fall, the knowledge that there is baking, soup making and roaring fires to look forward to makes the change a little easier to handle!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Container Garden Update

My tomatoes are finally ripening! 

As I wrote up my last container garden update, I realized I wasn't quite ready to give up gardening for the year. I've enjoyed watching things grow and, even more than that, I have loved eating my uber fresh carrots, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce and herbs.  It's been fun to experiment with container gardening and learn that I can grow food on my balcony!  So, given that I wasn't quite ready to let go, I decided to take things a step further and plant a little fall garden.

Around the 20th of August, I cleaned out two more stainless steel storage tubs (that hadn't been doing much of anything) and planted them with carrots, beets, swiss chard, spinach and two types of lettuce.  And, unlike my previous plantings, I mixed the items within each tub in the style of square foot gardening.  Square foot gardens are planted quite intensively and I thought this method would work will on my balcony as you don't need wide spaces between plantings in containers (although I did use mini rows).

My two newly planted tubs (the third tub, at
the back, contains carrots I planted in May).

Two Weeks after planting - the spinach and lettuce are speedy!

Four weeks after planting - spinach in front,
chard or beets in the middle (I'm not sure
which) and carrots at the back.

I have also planted a pot with just lettuce and spinach and, now that my first planting of carrots has been eaten, I plan to reseed that container as well.  I've tried to space my plantings in order to have plenty of lettuce and spinach available throughout the fall.  My first batch should be ready in the next week or two and, if I have planned things right, I think I will have enough for a salad a day for the next 3 months. Vancouver Island has a temperate climate and my container garden should keep growing until some time in December.

A few late summer finds have also allowed me to create a sweet little eating area on my balcony.  I found this table and chair set on sale, marked down from $200 to $70!

And, with the addition of two candle sconces I snagged off of the "freecycle" table in my buidling and the gift of a plant, my balcony garden has become a balcony cafe.

Table for two, anyone?

My very happy impatiens, loving
the cool of late summer.

By the end of September, I am hoping to have my final tub of veggies planted and my geraniums replaced with hardy fall flowers.  I'm looking forward to seeing what my second planting season yields!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Handmade Napkins

Way back in August, when I was on vacation, so, so long ago . . . . *sigh*,  I did some condo decorating and somehow got it into my head that I needed cloth napkins.  It seemed all green and fancy and what not.

I did not want to pay a lot and decided to scrounge online.  There are a lot of napkins out there on the internets!  I searched high and wide and across the globe.  It was hard to choose.  I initially had it narrowed down to these ones, aren't they cute?

But then, once I picked out a tablecloth, and decided to go in a different (non-red) colour direction, I had to change my plan and couldn't find what I wanted.  I finally decided to buy some fabric to make my own napkins.

Vintage Fabric Remnants from France

I had five different fabric pieces to work with and was able to cut them up into eight 12-inch squares.  I then paired the pieces and sewed the pairs, wrong sides together, 1/4 inch from the edge.  After that, I turned the squares right-side-out and sewed around the edge of each napkin twice, once at about 1/8 of an inch from the edge and once another 1/4 of an inch from there.  Easy peasy.  

I had much more of one fabric than the four others, so one side of the napkins are mismatched cotton florals while the other sides are all matching striped pink damask.  I love that using two fabrics allows for two slightly different table-top options.

Option 1:
Floral, sweet and casual.
Option 2:
The reverse, ever so slightly more formal.

I am very happy with my new napkins. Although, I am slightly embarrassed to admit, despite making them as "everyday napkins", I am afraid to ruin them and don't use them nearly as much as planned.  Perhaps I will have to order the Etsy set after all!

I linked up to Quiltstory's Fabric Tuesday!
 Fresh Poppy Design

Sunday, September 11, 2011

To Market, To Market

I only had time for a very quick stop at the market yesterday.  It was a very busy day full of kitchen tiles, errands, gift wrapping and a baby shower.  I almost skipped the market.  But, I needed honey!

Salad mix, carrots, honey, melon and feta.

The small white ball in the right of the photo is not an onion (as it appears), but a tiny local melon.  I will be eating it for lunch today and can't wait to try it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Block of the Month

My "Yours, Mine and Ours" monthly quilt-block-club continues!  The block of the month for July was the Triple Star.  I was worried about this block because it appears quite complicated, but it ended up being pretty strait-forward and fairly forgiving (I seem to have cutting issues). 

My donation block

My block

I have been debating on what to do with all of "my blocks" when they are done.  They are intended to complete a larger project that I started many years ago, and they will, but I no longer want this quilt for my own bed and I don't want to pay to have it quilted, if it is just going to sit in the closet.  I was thinking about splitting it into two or three smaller baby quilts but, on a whim, asked my mom if she would like it.  And yes!  She wants it and will pay for the quilting.  Phew, my quilt has a home.

Just two more quilt club blocks left!  I will still need to track down patterns for another 6-8 blocks in order to complete the quilt for my mom, but I am pleased to have finally made some progress on this project after a 10 year standstill.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Attempts at Interior Design

I've been on vacation for the past few weeks and one of my projects has been to make some decorating decisions for my condo.  I bought my condo in May 2010 and hired contractors to complete some major renovations for me.  The contractors fully renovated the kitchen and bathroom and replaced all of the doors and frames.  I took on the project of repainting the ceiling, walls and doors (bifold and regular) myself (with the help of some friends!).  I thought that my end of the project would take a few weekends, but in between the working and the moving, it ended up taking about nine months.  By December 2010, I had run out of patience and money and could not stand the idea of doing one. more. thing.

I was left with  a lot of blank blue walls and some mismatched furniture.

My walls: Benjamin Moore, Morning Sky Blue

By the time July 2011 arrived, I was finally ready to start thinking about decorating again.  I did a major clean-up and reorganization and bought a couple of new pieces of furniture.  I thought about the decorating style I want and determined that it is not really one style, but some sort of mishmash of West Coast Casual, Shabby Chic, French Country and Beach Cottage.

Once I started reorganizing and planning, I was on a roll.  While I am still unable to bring myself to do any more painting (my new-to-me kitchen table needs refinishing), over the past few weeks, I decided on a tablecloth, accent colours, artwork and kitchen tiles. Phew!

The tablecloth was my first project.  This might not seem like a big deal but, because of my very distinct wall colours and the fact that the cloth will be in constant use while it covers up my dingy table, I had to pick carefully.  I knew I wanted a white tablecloth, but it was difficult to decide on an accent colour.  I love red in combination with my wall colours and even bought a red teapot and planted red geraniums in an effort to go this direction.  But, honestly, red is just not my colour.  And neither are orange or purple.

After about 36 hours of scouring ebay and Etsy for vintage table cloths, I finally stumbled on Ma Maison Francaise.  French Country!  Vintage!

I found my tablecloth!

It was only after I bought the tablecloth that I realized that it shares something in common with my bedspread:

My vintage chenille bedspread

The embroidery on my new-to-me tablecloth

I am pretty sure that matching your tablecloth with your bedspread is not cool, but at least I am consistent!  

In any case, picking out the tablecloth helped me to decide on my accent colour, the raspberry tone of the pink-red embroidered flower.  I even bought some coordinating fabric remnants to make napkins!  

I really hadn't wanted pink as my accent.  A pink and blue apartment, how tacky does that sound?  But, I like pink.  And blue.  And, it's just an accent colour, right?

I decided to map out my colour palate using Benjamin Moore paint swatches to make sure they all work together.  I don't planning on painting with them all (the blue is my wall colour, the rest will be in fabrics and art), but wanted to see how they look.  The are pretty girly, but I like them - the colours of skies and waves with a sprinkling of flowers.

Having my colour palette picked out out also helped me choose some art:

Blenda Studio

Jelly Beans

Little Brown Pen (I haven't bought these, but I want them)

And my tiles:

I am hoping to have the tile installed in October.  I can't wait until it is done!

Next projects:

Framing all my art and saving my pennies for a new couch!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Summer Eating and the Single Girl

It seems to me that singletons, couples and families with children each have different diets.  I think my diet says "single woman" loud and clear.  I should throw a pot roast or something in there for good measure!

Breakfast: Blueberry Muffins

Lunch: Greek Yogurt with Figs and Honey

Dinner: Banana and Nutella Crepes

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I can't say how much I love harvesting the vegetables I have grown in my little container garden.

Spinach, carrots and basil.
The haul might be small.

But the rewards are big!