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Fall Lettuce in the Greenhouse 2013

Started 3 types of lettuce seedlings in the greenhouse last week. All 3 types have sprouted.

Yussssssss.

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Book Recommendation - The Edible Front Yard by Ivette Soler

Yesterday I picked up a book while out shopping with Parker, and I've already flipped through it several times, and read all the way through half of it.

The book is The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden by Ivette Soler. I've been inspired for a while now by the concept of sustainable gardening replacing the modern water-wasteland of a lawn that is currently the neighborhood norm. It's also important to me to maintain a beautiful visual statement and have a pleasing sense of design and purpose to my front yard. When I saw this book, I gravitated toward it, and with a quick flip through the pages, realized this was going to be a wonderful resource for me.

Soler shares information on choosing plants that are not only edible, but also maintain integrity and visual appeal well through the year. She also gives design advice for creating a pleasing yard that works with your style of house, and gives suggestions for elements that will tie the space together during off-season months.

I loved the images of blooms of common plants that give great visual appeal, and was excited to see suggestions of the more ornamental varieties of plants that their common varieties are otherwise a little on the plain side visually.

Some of my favorite tips are to use lettuce and leafy edibles for borders, thyme to create a thick lawn-like bed of foliage, and to repeat plants for visual and design stability.

If you are interested in creating a garden space in your front yard, I suggest you check this book out. It's a great resource for any sustainable urban gardener, or anyone who is just tired of mowing and watering a lawn that doesn't give them much in return.

My own hair styles, April 2013

I have been impressed with how long my hair has been getting this year, even though I still color heavily on a regular basis. I can say that this is now the longest my hair has been since I was in beauty school.

That being said, recently at the salon we started discussing what we are doing for this year's Dancing on the Avenue. We didn't do last year, but the two years previous we have worn wigs and colorful stenciled hair extensions. This year we decided we'd do 50's pinup looks. This sent me on a book hunt, which is one of my favorite things to do. Gosh I love books.

As I began looking, 2 books really stood out:


Vintage Hairstyling by Lauren Rennells

and


Style Me Vintage by Belinda Hay

I purchased both books, and I have very similar reviews for both. Great tips, cute photos, clear concise directions that your average (patient) woman can follow, but interesting enough to keep my hairstylist interests piqued. I'm glad I picked them up, and if you like pinup styles or just hair that wears well for a few days, you will too.

I've been practicing a little the past few days with some great vintage inspired styles, and this month I'm going to take opportunities to rock some throwback styles as often as I can. Check out the slideshow to see what I've been up to. <3

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San Jose Museum of Art, April 2013

Went to SJMA today. I love my membership there. We saw a few exhibits, and though I am sneaky I still don't risk trying to take photos of much of the artwork there. I do try to sneak photos of the titles so I can remember though!

Rising Dragon is a series of Contemporary Chinese Photography showing elements of modernization of current day China. Images show the rapid introduction of industrialization and technology to areas that were until recently agricultural, mixed with traditional and patriotic imagery of Chinese history.

This/That - New Stories From the Edge of Asia is a provocative look at the ideas of identity and conflict, and their ever changing natures. The Mail Order Bride series especially caught my eye, showing Asian women dressed in Geisha style, yet with the imagery looking like something from a brothel dressing room. Women caught in waiting; waiting to be bought and sent to their new husbands to entertain and fulfill whatever desires he has. The photo series is theatrical, as if the scene is intentionally being watched. Bright traditional garments and imperfect Geisha styles invite the viewer into the scene, and the fragile, yet playful nature of the mail order brides is what draws you in fully.

Dive Deep - Eric Fischl and The Process of Painting is an intensive and alluring study of composition, human relationship, and the elements of human form. Fischl shows his creative process in a series of pieces that start from photographic study, progress to sketches and color studies, and evolve different elements to their eventual return to simplistic design elements. Using basic structure of human form and architecture, Fischl works through a concept until it is fully broken down.

As always, visiting the museum makes me want to make art. Maybe on my next rainy day.

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Rainy Day Garden

My #colorful #garden of freshly-planted #dahlia bulbs doesn't mind a #rainyday

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Mix and Match Recipes on a Budget

Canned:
Diced tomatoes
Black beans
Peanut butter
Jelly

Frozen:
Green beans
Corn
Mixed peas and carrots

Dried:
Rice
Pasta (shells are always good)
Flour

Fresh:
Eggs
Cilantro
Cheese
Butter
Lettuce
Apples
Bananas
Bread

Recipes (serve 2-3):

Veggie Soup
1/2 can black beans
1/2 can diced tomato and the liquid from the whole can
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
1/2 cup frozen green beans
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup rice
1/4 cup pasta
seasonings to taste
6 or more cups of water

Bring water to a boil. Add rice and canned tomato, reduce heat to medium. Cook 10 minutes. Add pasta, cook additional 5 minutes. Then, add the rest of the ingredients. Cook until frozen vegetables are hot, skimming off any foam from top of soup as you go. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Turn off heat, allow soup to sit to reconstitute dried herbs and cool. Serve with a slice of toasted bread.

Seasoned Vegetable Rice
1/2 cup rice
1/4 cup frozen peas and carrots
1/4 cup frozen corn
salt, dried garlic and onion, and dried herbs to taste
4 Tbsp butter, divided
1 1/2-2 cups water

Heat 2 Tbsp butter in a saucepan on medium until melted. Add rice, stir to coat and cook 2-3 minutes or until the rice starts to toast slightly and smell a little nutty. Add 1 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, then bring to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and add vegetables and seasonings, and bring back to a simmer. Stir occasionally until water has fully been absorbed, then check rice. If not fully done, add an additional 1/2 cup water and reduce again.

Let cool, then fluff with a fork. Serve just-hot. Reheat by adding 2 tbsp water and cooking on the stove, or in a mostly-closed container in the microwave.

To turn into fried rice, heat 1/4 cup butter in a pan on medium until melted, then add one egg scrambled with water to thin consistency. Cook until still slightly runny, then add seasoned vegetable rice. Add soy sauce to taste, serve hot.

Basic Roux
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour

Melt butter on medium-low in a sauce pan. Stir in flour with a whisk and heat until mixture begins to bubble and flour begins to smell nutty and turn toasty brown.

Makes enough to thicken 1 pint (2 cups) liquid - any liquid will do! Great to make sauces and gravies or to add to soups for a thicker broth.

Homemade Cheese Sauce
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 cups milk, divided
1 cup shredded cheese, room temperature
1 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste

Make basic roux and while still hot, slowly add 1 cup milk, whisking constantly. When mixture thickens and all lumps are worked smooth, add second cup milk. Remove from heat, then sprinkle mixture with cheese, stirring to incorporate until cheese is fully melted. Add garlic salt and pepper if desired.

Cheese sauce can be served with pasta, over vegetables, or mixed with salsa to make nacho cheese.

Homemade Croutons
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 slices bread, cubed
1 tsp salt, 1 tsp seasonings of choice

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place cubed bread in a wide bowl, then drizzle with melted butter, stirring constantly until pieces are evenly coated. Add salt and seasonings and stir to coat. Distribute on a cookie sheet and bake for an hour, stirring occasionally, until pieces are fully dry, crunchy in the middle, and toasted golden brown.

Easy Cheesy Casserole
1 cup dry pasta
1/2 cup peas and carrots mix
homemade cheese sauce recipe
1/2 cup homemade croutons, crushed into chunky crumbles
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions. Add peas and carrots to hot water and pasta, and cook 1-2 more minutes until vegetables are hot inside. Drain well. Return vegetables and pasta to the pan and combine with homemade cheese sauce, stirring to coat evenly. Transfer mixture to shallow baking dish. Top with shredded cheese, then crushed croutons. Place in oven uncovered until cheese is melted and croutons are browned. Let cool slightly before serving.

Corn and Apple Salad
1 1/2 cup lettuce, rinsed and chopped very coarsely
1/2 apple, diced
1/4 cup corn, defrosted
1/4 cup homemade croutons

Toss all ingredients. Dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or your vinaigrette of choice.

Grilled PB&J
Peanut Butter
Jelly
Butter, softened
2 slices of bread

Butter one side of each slice of bread. Spread peanut butter on the dry side of one piece of bread, and jelly on the other side. Close peanut butter and jelly sides together (duh, i know) and place sandwich butter-side-down onto a preheated skillet. Press sandwich with spatula, then flip when sandwich is sizzly and toasted. Cut diagonally (to feel like a fancy pants) and eat warm. Serve with coffee or milk.

Geometric Mohawk for Burning Man 2012

Geometric Mohawk

My friend Jason came in to see me to have some fun color done for burning man. We went all out! Stenciled geometric design colored and shaved into one side, and the mohawk a rich kelly green too. He's definitely gonna look great out on the playa.

Dremel-Distressed Jeans

Distressed Jeans

Hooray! I'm back in my pre-pregnancy jeans, and man do I feel good. A couple weeks ago I was able to go through and bring some pieces back into my wardrobe. That felt great!

While I was sorting to donate some pieces that didn't look so great, I found a pair of jeans I have loved to wear for the past 5 years. However, they were at that level of worn out where they didn't look new anymore but they just sorta looked crappy in some spots. I decided to take my Dremel with a sanding ring to them and distress them to the point of being fashionably destroyed.

I loved these pants to begin with. They were just a tiny bit commercially distressed when I bought them, but over time the bottom of the pant legs have frayed completely out. I also may have helped them along after the backs started to go, but that's ok.

I'm really enjoying them! They're cute, they're comfy, and now I have a nice set of extra-worn-in jeans without investing another 5 years of wearing them constantly to get them to that point.

Making friends with blogging again

I used to write. A lot. I used to write so much that I'd just fill notebooks with my ideas and blatherings and research and inner dialogue to the point where I'd buy the college-ruled notebooks by the five packs, and buy two. I'd doodle, leave shopping lists, write little stories and poems, and keep my to-do list all right there. I carried a backpack constantly, so I always had room for a notebook.

At some point, I seemed to lose my connection to paper. I still love notebooks, though. Often, I buy a book I think is pretty and would have filled from cover to cover in the past. Now, more often than not I've got most of these books on a shelf, maybe with a few pages written in one here or there. I've stopped carrying a notebook with me everywhere, and instead always have my phone or laptop.

Does this disconnection with the physical tend to make me less creative? I feel like I've connected to other people and been able to reach out more, offer more of my thoughts and ideas to share, but that I personally have lost a bit of the inspiration to write and create. I pick up notebooks, but that need to scribblescribblescribble and write and fill the pages has evolved to a more compartmentalized view. I tend to keep one book for one project, one thought process, and I like that a lot. But, I'm missing that free-flowing, open feeling of writing whenever it comes to me.

The opportunity to do so is still in the palm of my hand, figuratively and often quite literally. I have technology strapped to my hip at all times, much like I once always carried a notebook. Between my phone, laptop and its tablet pen, and a huge selection of creative software, I've got the ability to do just what I used to do. I just haven't rebuilt the habit.

They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. I've been feeling a little lost lately, and I'm thinking it's time to incorporate some new habits into my routine. I think it's time for me to make peace with the technological creative process, to make friends with sharing myself again. I think it's time to rededicate myself to blogging, even if I don't have a pattern or a project to share today. Every day there's something to write about. Every day is a new day, and most of those days are a blog entry just waiting to happen.

What do you think, those of you out there reading this? I know there's a few of you out there, but even if there isn't, nobody but Lilli ever saw my notebooks filled with yammering before anyway, and I still filled them up! I hope that if you're reading, you enjoy seeing more of the process of my inner workings. It's a little weird in this head of mine, but things are usually pretty good.

Enjoy. <3

Ciara Crochet Cloche


IMG_8328
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

I wrote this cloche pattern while designing a gift for my friend Ciara. It's a great lightweight style that works well to hold the hair back on a windy day or keep your head warmer on a cool day. It has a fun cluster mesh design that is intricate enough to leave alone, but looks great with a decorative accent such as a flower as well.


IMG_8330
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Materials:
Fibranatura Oak, 1 skein
Size I(5.5 mm) crochet hook

Gauge: 14-16 sts and 8 rows in a 4"x4" double crochet square


IMG_8329
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Row 1: chain 3, then sl st into first chain st to create ring.
Row 2: ch 2, dc 9 into ring. sl st into 2nd chain st to close round.
Row 3: (ch 2, dc 1) into 1st st. dc 2 into each st, 9 times. sl st into 1st st.
Row 4: (ch 2, dc 1) into 1st st. dc 1, (dc 2 into 1 st, dc 1) 9 times. sl st into 2nd st.
Row 5: (ch 2, dc 1) into 1st st. dc 2, (dc 2 into 1 st, dc 2) 9 times. sl st into 2nd st.
Row 6: (ch 2, dc 1) into 1st st. dc 3, (dc 2 into 1 st, dc 3) 9 times. sl st into 2nd chained st.
Row 7: (ch 2, dc 1) into 1st st. dc 4, (dc 2 into 1 st, dc 4) 9 times. sl st into 2nd st.

Rows 8-10 : ch 2, dc remaining sts. sl sts into 2nd st.
Row 11: ch 3, sk 1 st, (dc4tog, ch 1, sk 1 st, dc 1, ch 1) 15 times, dc4tog, ch 1, sl st into 2nd st.
Row 12: ch 1, sc remaining sts. sl st into 1st st.
Row 13: sl 1, ch 1, dc3tog into same st, ch 1, sk 1 st, dc 1, ch 1, sk 1 st, (dc4tog, ch 1, sk 1 st, dc 1, ch 1) 15 times, sl st into 1st cluster.
Row 14: ch 1, sc remaining sts. sl st into 1st st.
Row 15: sl 1, ch 3, sk 1 st, (dc4tog, ch 1, sk 1 st, dc 1, ch 1) 15 times, dc4tog, ch 1, sl st into 2nd st.
Rows 16 - 19: repeat rows 12 - 14
Row 20: ch 1, hdc remaining sts. sl st into 1st st.
Row 21: ch 1, dc into same st, dc2tog into remaining sts. sl st into 1st st.
Row 22: ch 1, sc remaining sts. sl st into 1st st. Cut tail, pull through. Weave in ends.

Leave plain or embellish with crochet embellishments, such as a crochet rose or leaves.

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