Ok, I’m having a major indecisive moment (not surprising), and I can’t seem to commit to a new lighting fixture for my living room/dining room. I’m over thinking it, and I may have just reached the point where I need to walk away and let someone else choose. The six here are what I’ve managed to narrow it down to. I thought for sure I’d be picking one from my fave Schoolhouse Electric, but then I found a few others that I like too….ahhhhh – which do you think will look best in my living room? The walls are being painted a warm grey, the ceilings are rather high, and there is natural brick exposed nearby. This particular fixture will be hanging nearly over the dining table (but not perfectly centered which makes me shy away from the pendants a little??) What do you think?
With all the chatter about the newest Gatsby movie, I can’t help but want to revisit the book. Being a big fan of the novel, I’m having a difficult time buying into this uber modern Baz Luhrmann version. I’ve heard mixed reviews, and the one’s that have surprised me come from critics who thought they’d hate the film, but walked away from the screen impressed and surprised. Part of me wants to give it a chance, and allow myself to be pleasantly surprised too, but to be honest, I’ve never really enjoyed Luhrmann’s style, and I’m afraid he could ruin my interpretation of the book.
I’ve always been such a visual person, so naturally when I read a novel every place has a landscape, every face has characteristics (I think I subconsciously fill in the details left out by the author). I need to be able to picture every detail as the story unfolds. For this reason, cover art has always been hugely important when choosing an edition. Similar to how I shop for wine by the label (bad habit), I pick my books by the cover, and continuously refer back to it as I make my way through the story. My first time reading Gatsby I read the version above, the classic painting by Francis Cugat, which was commissioned before the book was completed, and was beloved by Fitzgerald – so much so that it’s been said he wrote it into the book.
The second time I read the story I read the edition above (on the bottom right). What a different experience….maybe it was the cover art, maybe it’s the nature of years past in-between readings. Who knows – probably both. Of all the covers I found in my search (here, here, and here), right now I’m liking the one above (on the bottom left). I think I’d like to have that one in my collection. Is it strange to collect multiple copies of the same book just for the cover art? I don’t think so, but I also collect milk bottle caps.
Today’s weather is gorgeous! Dry, mid-70′s, sunny, just perfect. Of course with days like these, my mind wanders to my summer wardrobe, and what I’m missing. I’m due for a new pair of summer sandals and these four are on the tip top of my list. Deciding is going to be the hard part…I want a pair of each…
Lorien and I were in need of some retail therapy, and where better to go than Benny’s?? Their tagline is ‘your favorite store’, and I think they’re right. We love Benny’s. It’s got that old school hardware store feel, reminiscent of times before the giant Home Depots. They have everything from paint supplies, to gardening tools, to kitchen supplies and camping gear…plus other more obscure knick knacks. Just what we were looking for.
Joanna’s finds: After much deliberation, and poking around, I settled on some awesome accessories for gardening this season (I had to have restraint to not fill my carriage). I’ve done a fair amount of research on gardening hoses, and was so shocked to find out most of them contain lead that seeps into the water over time and grows into vegetables (gross). After many unsuccessful searches for a ‘drinking water safe’ hose at the bigger garden centers, I found what I was looking for at Benny’s (this happens all the time – they have all the good brands). This never-kink hose is made for boats and campers and is safe for watering veggies. Plus – it never kinks…..or so it says.
I also found these replacement lids for Ball canning jars. I suppose I could have ordered them online, but I kept forgetting to do it. The lids always rust after being used, so you need to replace them each time you use the glass for pickling. Of course they had them at Benny’s. I finished of my shopping with some natural bamboo stakes for the garden. Believe it or not the bigger garden center only had the died green stakes, which I think are kind of terrible looking, so score again at Benny’s. I’m not exaggerating (and they’re not paying me) when I say that I always leave this place pleasantly surprised with their inventory. Cheers to a successful shopping trip!
Lorien’s Finds: One can spend hours in Benny’s and find a million of reasons to buy pretty much everything in the store…. all of a sudden I found myself wanting a dart board, to paint my walls, to buy tons of tupperware, beach chairs, a grill….you really can find everything you want at Benny’s. But once I started to focus, I realized they had a lot of things for my kitchen, I’ve been needing to put the finishing touches on the corner that surrounds our large hutch…..
First up, I found a nice collection of frames that were the perfect size for two prints I’ve been wanting to hang up FOREVER, one from Craftland and the other from Jill Bliss. Most of the frames at Benny’s were black, but that worked out for me since most of the frames I have in my home are also black. And for $7.99 and $10.99, the prices are hard to beat ( We totally sound like Benny’s salespeople but it’s so easy to get on the Benny’s bandwagon once you’ve been).
Then I actually found a bicycle basket for $10 that I want to use for storage for knick knacks. It’s a little weird and unconventional, but it’s actually perfect size for my kitchen. The part that would go over the handles is perfect for hanging up, I just have to get a little handy and a little DIY. There is actually a larger basket that I want to go back for, it will be great to hold my magazines and books for the family room.
Who knew Benny’s would be the place to go for cutting boards? They have such a selection of sizes and prices of cutting boards… which was fantastic since I needed a large cutting board to cover the surface of our hutch, we basically needed something to act like a big coaster. Since it’s a good size, it will also act as tray when we eat outside on our porch…and as the perfect cheese platter.. gotta love Benny’s.
Life has been so busy recently, I haven’t even talked with my mom about mother’s day plans yet. When I scheduled this post, I thought I’d already have something lined up for Sunday, but here I am planning a hypothetical Mother’s Day gathering (it will likely unfold in some version of this).
Holidays like Mother’s Day are all about seasonal food, easy outdoor entertaining, and relaxing with the fam. All this brings to mind three things: lawn games, fresh salad, and refreshing cocktails made with citrus. Here are three ideas that are super simple to pull off and perfect for a sunny spring day.
Lawn Games:There’s so many to choose from, but my personal fave is bocce (or petanque/boules). This game is inexpensive to buy (the set pictured is fancy, but you can get less expensive sets here), great for a group and really casual – so if you need to pause for dinner that’s just fine. No special skills are required. Grandma can play and so can the tikes. It’s like bowling without gutters. Bocce makes a good Mother’s Day gift too.
Fresh Salad: I made the most amazing salad the other day, and of course, I forgot to snap a pic, so I’ll just give you a brief run down. First – it’s very easy to make, and without any leafy greens, this salad travels well. Make it ahead of time – no problem. You’ll need: 1 cucumber sliced into thin half rounds (I like the seedless English cucumbers), 1 bunch of radishes sliced into thin half rounds, 1/2 cup of red grapes slices in half, 1/2 cup of pineapple in small chunks, 1/2 cup cojita cheese crumbled, 1 bunch of cilantro, 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, olive oil, white vinegar, and fresh ground pepper.
In a large bowl combine the cucumber, radish, grapes, pineapple, and cheese. In food processor combine jalapeno, cilantro, 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of vinegar. Process until smooth (if you don’t have a food processor you can chop everything very fine and then whisk together). Pour dressing over the chopped friuts and vegetables. Toss to coat. Done.
Refreshing Cocktail: Who doesn’t like grapefruit juice, gin, lillet rose and flowers? These are the four simple ingredients that go into this pretty drink. Just a few ingredients, and combine, nothing fancy, but wow, this is a refreshing and impressive cocktail to serve at a spring soiree.
Have a happy Mothers Day!
Happy Friday! I can’t say why, but some weeks just feel long, and for me, this was a very long week. I’m looking forward to at least one free day this weekend to finish up a new outdoor project. This one is pretty simple, but finding the time has been a struggle. I’m building a light canopy for my back deck. There’s so many ways to go about this, but I’ve decided to build a wire frame for the lights to hang over. I’m far from finished, but I thought it would be good to share in two posts, so consider this post phase one. The materials are simple….3 ten foot wooden posts (the height is important), 60 ft. of 3/32 gauge galvanized wire, 6 wire clamp sets, and 6 snap clips. I bought it all at the hardware store for under $60. The idea is to anchor the tall posts to my existing fence to give the canopy structure height (I’m short, but tall people will hit their heads on the lights if the posts are too low). Each post has an eye hook at the top, and a reciprocal eye hook has been anchored to the house on the opposite side of the deck. I’m building three strands of wire to connect each post to the hooks on the house. To build the wire pieces I’ve used these interesting clamps that pinch the wire around a metal ring to create a secure loop – who designs these things? I love discovering solutions like these…so clever. From there I attach a snap clip to each end of the wire. So far – the most difficult seems to be measuring the wire pieces to make sure they will be taught when clipped to the post and house. I’ll probably have trouble getting this right (exact measurements aren’t my thing). The end result should be a three row wire canopy ready for lights to be strung. I’ve bought commercial grade outdoor lights that can hold a full sized bulb. I like the effect of the larger lights (instead of the christmas light strands). Now everyone cross their fingers for me. I’ll post the outcome next week. Have a great weekend!
* photo of the Montreal Jardin Botanique shade garden
I’m very fortunate to have a raised bed vegetable garden in full sun. It just happens to be that my side of the street is south facing and I have a vegetable patch in my front yard (not ideal for privacy though). Now that I’ve successfully planted the veggies for a few years, I’m attempting to tackle the back garden, which has raised beds as well, but unfortunately, they only get a few hours of sun a day. This partial shade situation has been tricky. I’ve made a few attempts in years past that didn’t quite work out. I wanted to grow veggies in back, but I’ve found the rumors to be true, not many vegetables thrive in shade (I was in denial and being stubborn)…so it’s time to adjust some of my expectations. The good news is, I’ve discovered plenty of plants do very well in shaded areas – even some edible varieties.
I’ve found a good number of edible plants that will tolerate partial shade (mainly leafy greens and not ‘fruiting’ vegetables), and even more exciting, I’ve discovered really beautiful flowering plants that will grow well in shade. My favorite flowering plants are hardy enough for cutting (for taking inside) – and luckily, many shade tolerant flowering plants are also perfect for cut flowers.
If you’re questioning what to do in your shade garden, here are a few more tips:
- Plants in shady areas shouldn’t be over-crowded. The leaves need space to spread out and capture as much light as they can.
- For that same reason, large leafy plants do better in shade.
- Paint fences and walls near-by the garden white. This will help to maximize your available light (you can cover boards with aluminum foil too, but I’m not that interested in aluminum foil in my garden).
- Don’t mulch or add compost until well into the hot dry season, otherwise you risk too much moisture.
- You may have a slug problem (gross I know), but the easiest solution is to pour a beer into an upside down frisbee and leave it out next to the garden. Strange, I know, but beer is a slug magnet and it kills them…poor slugs.
Edible plants to try in partial shade: mint, parsley, wild ginger, lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, endive, radicchio, mustard greens, kale.
Flowering Plants to try in partial shade: bleeding hearts, astilbe, foxglove, lambs ears, begonias, larkspur, snap dragons, cleome
Lorien and I see each other every day. We publish two blogs together, and that makes for plenty of time spent sharing lunch, dinner, music, fashion likes and dislikes, gossip, and ideas for our projects…we’re almost completing each others sentences at this point. It seemed natural that a new series would be a joint one. We’ve never posted together – but why not, it’s the natural next step. This is the first in a series of posts where Lorien and I will tag-team a recap of our outings out and about.
Joanna says: I couldn’t be happier that Lorien and I decided to splurge a bit and take ourselves out to a ‘fancy’ dinner at Bacaro last week. We totally deserved it after a long day of working on InDowncity (our other project) we both needed to indulge a bit. Bacaro is one of those great restaurants where the food is top notch, but the relaxed environment doesn’t require you change your outfit or wait in a long line. The weekends may be a different story, but on a given week day you can get seated without much fuss. Big plus.
My absolute favorite menu item is the artichoke crudo & celery salad with truffled sea salt, shaved parmigiano-reggiano, micro celery, lemon, and capezzana olive oil. Honestly – it may be the best salad I’ve ever had. No exaggeration. If you go there you have to try it. Bad news – my picture came out so terrible I can’t share it. The restaurant is dimly lit, which makes for a nice dining experience, but not so great for photos. The combo of truffle oil, shaved artichokes and celery is unusual, but really works. I need to try this one at home, but I’m intimidated by the shaved artichokes. I just need to get over it.
Lucky me – I ordered another Bacaro specialty - grilled pizza! I’ve never eaten there and not ordered one. It’s kind of their unofficial trademark. While pizza isn’t necessarily Lorien’s thing (she cheats on the gluten-free at times) I could live off of pizza. Bacaro’s pizza may be one of the best I’ve ever had. This one was a dressed up margarita with the addition of garlicy kale pesto. Wow! It was fantastic. Ben and I were happily eating the leftovers for lunch the next day. Pizza makes the perfect leftovers.
Note to self – treat yourself more often. Cheers to the occasional indulgences and dinner out with good friends. Stay tuned for our next outing.
Lorien says: First off, so sorry for the quality pictures, they do not the food and atmosphere at Bacaro justice. This is my second time at Bacaro, my first time was actually with Joanna, and once again I was blown away by how amazing everything was.
With each dish, each bite, I was surprised at how delicate and well balanced all the flavors were; from my drink (The Riviera Cocktail was sweet and refreshing, so good I had two), to the salad (Joanna is right, it may be the best salad ever), to the pizza (the pesto was so fresh and the thing crust did not get soggy from the sauce – it’s magical ), and the risotto with scallops (my favorite dish).
The minute I saw the risotto with the peas, mint and scallops on the menu, I knew we had to try it. The dish was creamy but not heavy. The buttery scallops were cooked to perfection. The peas, pea sprouts and mint added the perfect, bright seasonal note that I wanted/needed/was looking forward to. Since we ordered so much food, I was able to bring the risotto home and it was soooo hard to not eat the leftovers and save them for Chris, but I did. I’m still thinking about all the delicious food we ate, which means we will have to go back very soon.
We’re back! We had a great week off, and I’m excited about new plans…and really, I’m feeling inspired by warmer days ahead. Finally – the season of outdoor drinking and eating is upon us (so exciting – it’s been a very long winter). I’m ready to leave the 2013 winter behind, throw away my hand split, and get out the gardening gloves. I spent last weekend tilling the soil and adding some nutrients. That can only mean one thing….it’s almost time for the first outdoor party.
I’m so busy these days, I’ve been contemplating the best way to entertain without spending an entire day in the kitchen. I don’t want to fuss with preparing too much food, but I think some snacky foods will be good (drinks on an empty stomach aren’t good for anyone). I think it might be fun to build a pickle bar. I’m not sure if it’s a thing, but I want to make it a thing if it isn’t already. Anyone who knows me knows that I love pickles. I can eat an entire jar in one sitting (this may be a problem). Ben’s been buying me these spicy pickled beans and we used them in bloody mary’s last week. He knows how to keep me happy. For the party I’m thinking of making my own pickles – buying them can add up quickly. Having a vegetable garden has made me a pickler (there’s always more bounty than I know what to do with). Last season I experimented with some unusual pickles like eggs, green tomatoes and carrots.
Since we’ll be eating these right away and they last for at least a month without the pressure seal, I’ll be making these refrigerator style (no canning). Right now…I’m leaning towards these recipes. Some are more traditional using cucumbers, but pickled garlic!? Not sure why I didn’t think of this before. And the pickled grapes sound strange, but I’ve had them before and they’re really good.
To make it an official bar – I’m going to serve 5-6 types of pickles, provide skewers that people can use to build a ‘pickle cocktail’ (it will look more like a pickle kabob really), and some cubes of a variety of cheeses to add to the skewers. Maybe a nice marinated feta, a sharp cheddar and some variety of Roquefort? Stronger cheeses will stand up to the acidity of the pickles better. I’m imagining this spread on top of a simple canvas cloth with some seasonal arrangement of spring wild flowers. Of course there will be cocktails and beers available too. I’m thinking this pickle bar will be a tasty, but simpler substitute for a more involved party spread. Plus, I can prepare everything ahead of time and not worry about cooking anything on party day.
Now to just choose a day, send invites and make sure the weather holds out.
Maybe it’s Spring, or maybe just coincidental, but it feels great to be motivated again. I’ve been in a creative slump the past few months, so just the chatter of fresh new ideas has me excited. Lorien and I have been making some plans for Get Along and Go in the upcoming months. We sat down this week to focus on where/how to get started. Of course we had no trouble finishing a bottle of wine (always helps the creative process) and came up with a bunch of new projects we’re excited to share. So much so, we decided it would be best to take a short ‘vacation’ from posting in order to sort through our thoughts, organize the next steps, and come back in a week introducing some new series (so excited to get started!). It’s hard to believe – but we haven’t taken a break since we got started almost a year ago. I always say it – but really, time flies….so we’re hitting the pause button and regrouping. Coming up for air is the best. See you in a week!