The idea of having a beautiful garden lush with edible and non-edible treats is both exciting and frightening. I have always had pots of herbs so figured, how hard could it be? Tell that to the fig tree my husband rescued from near death at our old place in Virginia. It turns out that even low maintenance plants need at least a little TLC. Fast forward a few years and we are back in California. This is supposedly the land of "you can grow anything" so I figure if I can't raise a decent garden here, I might have to toss in the towel. A few hours of research and a couple spreadsheets later, I have an extensive 4-bed multi-pot plan for a full-fledged feed-the-family-for-months garden plan. Reigning in the urban garden dream, I settle for starting with one raised bed. The hubby built this gorgeous bed for me and filled it full of beautiful dirt that my research revealed to be the perfect combination of soil and nutrients for sustaining plant life in a raised bed. The little man and I plant lettuce, onions, parsley, basil, mint, jalapenos, poblanos, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and strawberries. Standing back to admire the fruits of my labor, I realize how anticlimactic the act of gardening is. If you require instant gratification, this is not the hobby for you. Every morning the little man and I head out to the back yard and give our precious plants a drink. I think I'm doing great until I notice that my basil (normally a no-brainer plant for me) is looking a little sad and my parsley has seen much, much better days. As if that wasn't enough, the strawberry plants aren't sprawling like the website said and 1/4 of their leaves are brown. Depressed but undeterred, I continue watering my little garden. Like a completely sane and normal person, I also begin talking to them. I figure if nothing else works, maybe I can talk them into growing - I try positive reinforcement: "That's a good plant. Keep on growing." which is quickly replaced with desperation and begging, "just give me 1 freaking tomato!" Needless to say, I was beginning to think that tossing in the towel and turning the darn thing into a sandbox might be a better use of the wooden box. On day one billion and three (that might be a small exaggeration, but it is an accurate description of how I felt), I decide to beg one last time. "Aaaaaahhhhh! A tomato!" Finally, after all that waiting, mother nature provided a small spark of hope that all may not be lost. I bring my little man over and we marvel at the tiny little green bulb sprouting from the end of a branch. I honestly don't know who was more excited - me or my toddler. To add fuel to my excited fire, I notice ... more tomatoes! There's probably 6 or 7 already sprouting and I can tell that another 20+ are going to start popping any day now. Walking around, it dawns on me that the lettuce plants have tripled in size. Aren't they gorgeous?! And check out my strawberries! At the rate I'm going, we're going to have an awesome salad headed our way. Sadly, my cucumber and eggplant plants aren't giving me quite as promising vibes. So, I'll continue to talk and beg and water in the hopes that they will eventually send their nutritious goodness my way. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that the pepper plants share some of their fruit with our home. Given this awesome progress, I have decided to have the hubby build another raised garden bed for me this weekend. At 8 months preggers, if I don't get this thing going now, I'm not sure when it'll happen. Stay tuned for progress updates - you know, when I actually have something edible. In the meantime, if you want a bucket, or 6, of lemons, let me know. We have two lemon trees that even my off-green thumb can't slow down!
ONE: A/C You know those in-window a/c units? The ones that are designed to be used with windows that open / close vertically? I've always thought they were so unattractive and bulky; definitely not something I had any intention of using in my home. Well, the recent Texas-style weather we've been experiencing in SoCal has me singing a different tune. Our hot and humid master bedroom was the coolest place in the house so the hubby and I shared it with our furnace of a dog and our human torch son. Nobody got any sleep. So, when we stumbled into ownership of one of these ugly window a/c units I nearly hugged the beast. For the next few days, we moved it from the living room in the morning to the bedroom in the afternoon basking in the cool relief it provided. Talk about a fantastic night's sleep. It doesn't fit pefectly in our windows though, so a little jimmy-rigging on the part of the hubby led to this super classy get up. It may be ugly, but this is one happy mama (just don't show me the electric bill for the month!). TWO: ALMA MATER & A FANTASTIC SPEAKER On Tuesday, the hubby watched the little man in the evening so I could see Nolan Bushnell speak at my alma mater (Loyola Marymount University) as part of the Hilton Distinguished Entrepreneur Lecture Series. Nolan immediately connected to the audience with his humor, honesty, and story-telling. The father of the video game industry, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, and tech inventor, he had no shortage of interesting and inspiring stories of success and failure. The target audience of undergraduate entrepreneurship majors responded to his lecture with cheers and applause more akin to a sporting event; they were obviously impressed - and so was I. THREE: RAIN Self-explanatory. Of course, it would rain on the day the hubby and I had scheduled for moving a bunch of stuff to our new place, but I'll take it. We have one more big day of moving planned hoping for rain on all days except that one. Did anyone else notice how clear and fresh the air has been since the rain blew through? FOUR: TASTE OF FALL The cool down of the last couple evenings gave us L.A. residents a taste of the fall to come. I couldn't be more excited! I love summer - the heat, the sun, the long days, the early rising of the sun - but, I am ready for butternut squash, chili, boots, scarves, sweaters, hot cocoa, and evenings curled up by the fire with a great book and a cup of hot tea. FIVE: THE POOL The heat has brought a whole host of problems to the residents of SoCal and beyond, but looking at the positive side, a huge benefit of it has been the ability to jump in the pool and not be freezing despite less than ideal water temperatures. The little man has finally overcome the "pool phobia" he developed over the last year and is now happily jumping into the pool, climbing out, and repeating the process until I am blue covered in goose pimples. But his laugh and the way he holds on tight to my neck after jumping in to me, make every single freezing moment worth it.
You know those weeks where nothing super exciting happens and you don’t have plans every night? No? Me neither. That’s probably why this past weekend’s lack of planned engagements and requirements was so special – the perfect way to spend Mother’s Day. The hubby and our little man just hung out at the house, cooked, played at the park, walked the dog, and drank some great wine (the little man stuck with his milk – but tells me it was great). The combination of a relaxing weekend, gorgeous sunny skies, and some much needed rain, reminded me that opposites attract and one isn’t necessarily better than the other.
- All the rain coming down in Austin, TX makes my heart happy. With the drought keeping the city parched – the lakes were at 34% full at the start of the year – it is great to see it finally getting some much-needed moisture. Hopefully the lakes will be full by the time we get back! Craving lake time and wakeboarding.
- Staying on the rain theme, the rainfall in Cali has been a blessing. The gloomy weather doesn’t exactly represent spring, but I’ll take whatever moisture Mother Nature is willing to share (even if it means a couple days of fall clothes mid-spring.)
- I went to a much-needed and really awesome networking event for entrepreneurs in Santa Monica. It’s amazing how talking to people about their ideas is just as inspiring and invigorating as chatting about yours. Plus, the extrovert in me needed the conversation!
- We busted out a bottle of wine that had been driven from CA to VA to TX back to CA (2002 J. Lohr Carol’s Vineyard Cab Sav). With that much travel – all in unconditioned space in the back of a Uhaul – we didn’t have high hopes. Much to my surprise, it was really smooth and delicious. That’s a pretty good testament to the quality of the grapes and final product of the wineries in Paso Robles.
- My aunt is graduating from her MBA program this weekend! So freakin’ proud of her and cannot wait to celebrate with her on Saturday. I’m so grateful we get to be a part of these family events and milestones. It wasn’t possible until our move back to SoCal.
This week was gloomy and cold and very not spring-like. So I did everything I could to bring sun, light, and laughter into the days. Lunch with best friends, a new hairstyle, and a beautiful singing voice were just a few of the highlights. Here are my 5 Things for the past week:...
We used to sit down to dinner every night as a family and chat. This was before the time of smart phones and tablets (Blackberries were the cool tech of the moment). Every evening each of us would take turns saying what our favorite 5 Things of the day were. It could be anything from playing outside at recess to science class to an awesome team meeting at work. There were only three rules 1) all 5 things had to be positive, 2) you couldn’t copy what someone else said unless you elaborated and made it personal, and 3) no repeats from the previous night. It was really fun and usually resulted in some great conversation and ideas for things to do during the upcoming weekend. Somehow over the last ten years or so we let this tradition go and I miss it. So, in honor of this tradition and in hopes of bringing it back, every Friday I will share my 5 Things from the previous seven days. Please feel free to share yours with me – or just with those closest to you. Enjoy!
- I reconnected and had an awesome lunch (Cow's End) and conversation with an old friend / colleague who I haven’t seen or talked to in nearly 10 years. Bonus: I walked away from lunch with a whole bunch of awesome knowledge I didn’t know I didn’t know.
- Impromptu alfresco spaghetti and meatball dinner with friends. There is no better way to cap off hump day than with a delicious home cooked meal, a glass of wine, catching up with a good friend, and watching our little men get into all kinds of mischief.
- My little man’s first official soccer practice! There was way too much cuteness in one place – and my sister came to partake in the fun. If you live in LA and want to get in on the fun, check out Learn to Kick by Tiny Pros.
- Fresh, homemade rosemary olive French loaf. Seriously, the way my home smelled all day was fantastic. This will definitely be appearing on the blog soon!
- The long held belief that I was looked over when my parents were handing out the artistic gene has been confirmed. My attempt at an Elmo cupcake says it all (image at the end). But, the important part is that they taste like slices of heaven and the kids at his daycare all agreed. Now I just need to whip up a batch to take to his family b-day party tomorrow. Phew!
I was a late fashion bloomer and have never been very trendy, nor do I fit in any one “style” box. I’m a little bit country, pretty preppy, have a bohemian flair, rock the beach feel, and embrace the relaxed LA vibe. Depending upon my mood, the weather, and the day’s itinerary, you can find me in anything from a sundress and sandals or structured blazer with pumps and a pencil skirt to skinny faux leather pants and red heels with a slicked-back high bun....