wise words

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Montefioralle - Tuscan faucet

“Water is precious.  Don’t waste it!  Always close the tap completely. Thank you”

Succinct yet polite (and elegantly presented in true Italian style), my sister and I saw this after a relaxing lunch in the Tuscan village of Montefioralle in late October of 2010. It’s an important reminder in any language, don’t you agree?

Tomato Harvest 2013 Totals

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first Paul Robeson tomato harvest

June 20, 2013

Tomato Harvest 7-25-2013

July 25, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-1-2013

August 1, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-4-2013

August 4, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-12-2013

August 12, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-17-2013

August 17, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-22-2013

August 22, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-31-2013

August 31, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-1-2013

September 1, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-7-2013

September 7, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-13-2013

September 13, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-17-2013

September 17, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-25-2013

September 25, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-26-2013

September 26, 2013

Tomato Harvest 10-7-1013

October 7, 2013

Tomato Harvest 10-9-2013

October 9, 2013

Our tomato harvest is just about finished so I’ve decided to start tallying the results …

Tomato Harvest 2013 TallyCan you believe it? 258 tomatoes! All that from a few plants, a good dose of sunshine, a simple little drip irrigation system, three bags of composted chicken manure, some fish heads, a dozen crushed egg shells, earthworm castings and an occasional blast of neem oil. Our two best plants – both purchased as seedlings in two inch pots from Love Apple Farms on March 21st and immediately transplanted into gallon pots before being planted in the ground on May 4th – produced over 245 tomatoes this summer! Two plants: 245 tomatoes! Amazing isn’t it? And that doesn’t even include the losses we suffered from pests like this:

Hornworms on Paul RobesonA serious infestation of voracious hornworms ruined over a dozen tomatoes on each plant!

Hornworm in action 2We didn’t think the plants would survive, but much to our amazement, they bounced right back and have kept on producing. As of today, these two plants still have 39 tomatoes ripening on the vine and at least a dozen flowers apiece.

And don’t forget all of those countless handfuls and bowls of beautiful, delicious cherry tomatoes … they were a mix of Sun Golds and Sweet 100s produced by just two plants.

Finally, my favorite tomatoes this summer (based strictly upon taste) were Paul Robeson (delicious on sandwiches!) and the Sun Gold cherries – I’ll definitely be planting them both again next year. What was your favorite / best producing tomato plant was this summer?

To see my results from last summer, read my Farewell to Summer post.

Heartaches, Attachments, Autumn

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Autumn Leaves 1Flowering Cactus with shadow Seed Pods 1Prickly Pear Fruit 1Toyon in Autumn 1As I type these words, I’m trying to memorize the contented sound the quail make as they move through our yard. It goes something like this: whoop whoop whoop whoop. But I’m frustrated because that sound isn’t quite right and I’m quickly running out of time to learn it by heart. So each morning I scatter seed then wait, watch and listen. When I feel overwhelmed, I go outside to soak up some sun and check on the oak tree we planted two years ago; inevitably, a tiny lizard joins me. Each evening a hummingbird pays us a visit and I delight in the sound of it’s wings. I want to capture these moments and file them away.

Last week I picked two limes from a tree I planted five years ago. They were the first limes the little tree ever produced. Our Meyer lemons are starting to turn yellow, but we won’t be here to pick them. We bought and planted that tree six year ago, the very weekend we arrived in California. Have you ever planted a tree knowing you won’t be around to see it mature? In my mind, that’s one of the least selfish things a person can do. It’s a gift for future generations.

Now, do four favors for me, please?

Read this post by artist Lily Stockman and listen to this recording of the Mojave Desert at dawn by naturalists Sarah Koschak and Andrew Skeoch.

Plant a tree, then go hug someone you love.

Friday Flora & Fresh Air

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Artichoke Flower bee 1Artichoke Flower bee buttArtichoke Flower bee 2
Artichoke Flower bee 3

When I realized I’d waited too long to harvest my remaining artichokes, I was a bit irritated with myself, but now that they’ve begun to flower, I’m actually quite pleased – I had such a blast watching this bee collect pollen this morning. I was utterly mesmerized! Afterwards, I was more than a little surprised to see that it was still able to fly – completely covered in pollen. All day long, bees have been visiting these artichoke flowers (wish I could taste the honey!) and hummingbirds have been swarming all over our agapanthus. I’ve counted at least two dozen hummers today, and I’m still counting. And as I type this, the quail are making their way down the hill, into our backyard. Last week, a lone bachelor visited. Then he brought his girlfriend. Yesterday we had three. And just now, I counted five! I absolutely love these visits, so you’ll have to excuse me – I don’t want to miss a single minute.

I hope your weekend is filled with wonder!


 

kitchen, by Henrybuilt

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Kitchen by Henrybuilt

From the moment I first walked into our Eichler over five and a half years ago, I had a plan. I wanted to open the kitchen up to the backyard and I longed for a view of the nearby foothills from our dining room. At the time, I didn’t realize this project would take two years to complete, but the outcome is proof that good things come to those who persevere. Thank you to everyone at Henrybuilt, and to two very talented finish carpenters (thanks Jason! thanks Zack!), for helping me turn my vision into reality. We love it.

up next: the “before” and “during” photographs

Niti Niti

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Have you ever encountered something so beautiful, so exquisitely crafted and thoughtfully presented, that you simply had to drop everything and investigate further?  That’s exactly how I felt when I stumbled upon Niti Niti.

From the moment I stepped inside, lured closer by a long red yarn meandering across the sidewalk, I knew I had found something very special.  Simona Muc, the owner and creative force behind Niti Niti, has carefully curated a collection of hand knit clothing and accessories so beautiful, it held my attention for several hours.  Everything is made by hand, from her ethereal “spider web” wraps and tunics made of luxurious Japanese silk mohair to her playfully chunky wool sweaters, scarves and poufy floor cushions.

Even the space itself is a thing of beauty.  Simona’s background in architecture is evident in every meticulously chosen detail, from the pivoting glass slab door and sophisticated wall color (a Le Corbusier hue) to the hand knit fitting room drapes that create a cocoon of privacy.   Everything adds up to make this jewel of a shop anything but ordinary.  And if all of this inspires you to pick up your knitting needles, Niti Niti also has a carefully selected collection of yarns available, in a variety of rich, vibrant colors.

Besides being an incredibly talented designer, Simona is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.  One night a week she hosts an informal knitting group where friends, old and new, can share ideas and knit in a friendly, creative atmosphere.

I can’t wait to return!

Niti Niti

Breg 4, Ljubljana

Open weekdays 10:00 am – 7:00 pm  (closed from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm)

Open Saturdays 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

gold & diamonds

Ginkgo gold 6Ginkgo gold 4 Ginkgo gold 9 Gingko goldGinkgo gold 11It’s been raining almost continuously for the better part of the last five days – soft, gentle showers that continue for hours on end (excellent weather for baking, reading and sleep). Every now and again there’s a break and during one such lull we took a walk and found a group of ten Gingko trees still holding onto their leaves – some more than others. Beneath several trees an undisturbed golden carpet had already formed, while the leaves of other trees still clung tight to the branches. As we stood surveying the scene, we were awestruck by the ephemeral beauty. Just then, the sun peeked through the clouds and illuminated one side of the square, making every leaf sparkle and glow with a dazzling intensity. For a fleeting moment, everything turned to gold and diamonds.