Friday, August 31, 2012


Right now, my walk-in pantry looks like this:

Utterly empty and squeaky clean. Aaaand, right outside my pantry it looks like this:

Utterly chaotic and messy. Because yesterday morning in the pantry I found dozens and dozens of critters that looked like this:

Can't see him so well? Here's a closeup:

It's a Flour Beetle, only about as big as two pencil tips, held together. He and about a hundred or so of his closest friends were partying in my rice and pasta and cruising around looking for places to expand the festivities. Ugh!

So yesterday I pulled every single frickin' thing out of the pantry, opened every box, peered in every bag, and wiped down every single can and bottle. I tossed out tons of open crackers, rice, pasta, and cereals. It took hours and hours to undo the damage. I worked up quite a sweat--that's why this photo below is out of focus. I literally couldn't see, from all the sweat rolling into my eyes!:

I used a lot of soap and hot water, and scrubbed down every single surface of the pantry, even the undersides of shelves:

I followed up by wiping down everything I'd just washed with disinfecting wipes. Usually I don't use this kind of product, but it is part of my earthquake emergency stuff:

While I worked like a mad thing, the pugs cowered in the corners. They were so confused: Mom is hollering and shrieking, but not at us. Who, then?


All the articles I read said these bugs are very hard to get rid of, so I'm obsessively checking my pantry to see if any more emerge. I don't want to restock it before I'm sure I've wiped out every last trace of the beetles.

And then, I think I'm going to store a lot of my starches and carbohydrates in clear plastic boxes from now on:

 Bed, Bath & Beyond or is gonna make quite a killing off me, this weekend.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lat-Summer Harvest

It's almost September, and our little vegetable garden is still pumping out standard and cherry tomatoes and a few last bell peppers:

These two peppers represent about 1/3 of our total pepper crop. The two plants we put in were sort of a bust.

But aside from the peppers being almost-no-shows, this has been a fun--and tasty!--enterprise. Next year, The Hubby and I are definitely going to plant more "Super Sweet 100" cherry tomatoes. They are small but pack a mighty punch of flavor.

We'll add in more heirloom varieties of tomatoes, too. Have to keep that yummy biodiversity going!

The pale yellow cherry tomatoes? Meh. Not so much. But they make a nice contrast in the photographs.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ann Arbor Lovelies

In Ann Arbor  last week, I spent a lot of time inside IKEA and Bed, Bath, & Beyond. When I wasn't in the Twin Temples of College Consumerism, I was helping The Boy move into his frat house while trying to avoid tripping on piles of luggage, giant shoes, and half-built bed lofts. With the little time left over from all that, I was ogling the houses in Ann Arbor.

I've never seen such a concentrated collection of beauties. As I drove through the streets with my tongue hanging out like a dog, The Boy teased, "So, how many of these houses would you like to fix up and move into, Mom?"

Like, 99.5% of them! Here are some of my favorites.

This lovely is just two doors down from The Boy's digs. Look at those gorgeous paned windows! It's a sorority, he tells me. Not sure why, but in the middle of the well-manicured lawn, there's a full-size anchor:

This one caught my eye, with its sloping roof and interesting angles:

There's a distinct chance I've photographed this house before, back in the fall of 2011, when we first visited Ann Arbor. But, seriously? The trifecta of blue house, porch, and bike leaning on the stair rail gets me every time:

This is also a sorority house. Talk about an important-looking front porch!

This porch is dressed to impress:

I love, love, LOVE the roof lines on this turn-of-last-century queen. The way the upper siding flares out ever so slightly, over the lower facade of brick? Such personality:

And what a cozy-looking porch! Somebody has wisely chosen hot-colored flowers and white pots to pop against the house's dark brick and even darker trim:

Speaking of things growing, I saw a lot of hostas, walking around Ann Arbor neighborhoods. One hardly ever sees them in L.A. Such pretty things, with their distinctive, ribbed leaves:

This home  reminds me of a lot of East Coast houses, with its fish-scale shingles up top, clapboard siding, and curve-within-a-triangle shape of the entry:

This sweet little house looks like it came right out of Cape Cod: Gambrel roof, white clapboard, blue shutters, and classic white picket fence:

A lot of the homes near The Boy's frat house are college housing. The years (and students) have taken a toll on the buildings. But this lucky one was getting renovated when we passed by:

Some frat houses were amazingly grand structures. This one had its own coat of arms, for Heaven's sake:

And this sorority house? It looks every inch like some of the historical homes in Pasadena, CA. What pillar of society must have built this grande dame?:

Here's my idea of house heaven: clapboard siding, shutters, and not one but TWO wraparound porches. Yes, please!:

And although the shot isn't very good, I must share with you this Tudor fantasy, below. And this is just the back side! (I forgot to take a photo of the front side, which has a legitimate moat and arched, stone bridge. No kidding.)

I'll snap the front side next time I'm in town. Because I am SO going back to look for more Ann Arbor lovelies!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Frat House

Hi, everyone: The Hubby and I just came back from tucking The Boy into college for his sophomore year. This time, he's living at a Frat House! (Cue the ominous music that goes nuh-nuh-nuhhhhhh.....)

It's actually a handsome old house that's seen better days. I'm guessing it was built in the 1910s. (19-teens? Not sure how you say that.)

Anyhow, before the lovely place was utterly choked with cardboard boxes from IKEA and BB&B, before the hearty handshakes and backslaps and joyous shouts of "Bro!" rang up and down the hallways, I was able to skulk around and take some pictures of this faded beauty.

Come with me, and I'll take you on a tour.

The vestibule has an interior wood door with 24 glass panes and a faceted glass handle. Beyond, you can see the front door, which is incredibly thick and has massive brass hardware (not visible, here):

A closeup of the inner door:

Just inside on the left, a narrow staircase behind a discreet door leads from the kitchen to the upper floor (this staircase was designed for the help to take). A larger, wider staircase leads off to the right, for guests and family members to take, to access the bedrooms on the upper floor:

The handsomely worn newel post on the main staircase. What people, what events, has it seen in its lifetime?:

The entry has a huge living room on the left. It features hardwood floors, a large bay window, and a fireplace located in the center of the long wall.

At the far end of the living room, you can see what used to be windows with a door between them. That was once a covered porch. This year, it's where The Boy and The Roommate live. The room has no closets--natch! It used to be a porch!--but they discovered it catches a lovely breeze, if you open the doors that flank the room. Because--yeah--it used to be a porch:

The living room fireplace still has what I suspect is its original wood molding:

The dining room has high wainscoting, triple windows (you see 2/3 of the windows, on the right, below), and more hardwood floors. Now, alas, it is also a double room:

This window, below, is the source of much merriment and puzzlement on the part of the boys. Originally, the window allowed folks in the dining room to look out onto the enclosed porch and the garden beyond. Now, it is in the wall between two double rooms, and the boys are hatching plans for all sorts of hijinks involving this unwanted peek into each others' rooms:

This stole my heart. It's what's left of the butler's pantry, between the kitchen and the dining room. High, original wood cabinetry, with its original hardware latches and many old, wavy-glass panes:

Inexplicably, somebody took the time and trouble to strip many layers of paint off the cabinets, and they absolutely glow in the afternoon sun.

*Sigh.* I spent a lot of time standing in front of these cabinets, dreaming of filling them with white china, vintage tablecloths, and softly patina'd old silver:

A closeup of the original latches on the cabinets:

Not much is left of the original kitchen, alas, except for two huge windows that face west. They have deep sills and sashes, and they still look out on lush green trees in the late afternoon:

As you enter the house, the large living room is to the left. A sweet little study with built-in bookcases and a fireplace is to the right:

These bookcases wrap all around the room, interrupted only by the fireplace and two windows. I daydreamed about filling those shelves with all my favorite books, adding a rug and a cozy chair or two in front of the fireplace, and whiling away many a winter afternoon in front of a small fire:

This is the back of the house. You can see two square-shaped dormers on the attic level (inexplicably off limits to the boys, which annoys them to no end). The wide-hipped house has a deep overhanging roof and an attached garage (just visible jutting out on the left side of the photograph). The large amount of concrete and the bike rack are unfortunate modernizations to accommodate the house's job as a place to house two dozen or so college undergrads...

...who have already begun to decorate in their own inimitable style. 

Beer Pong. All part of a day's work, when you're a gorgeous old house in a college town.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August Surprise

I got a surprise in my garden a few days ago: a Bearded Iris in full bloom:

This is one of the bulbs I bought on a visit to Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the fall of 2011. Of the six or so varieties I tucked into the soil back then, only one flowered in the spring of this year. The rest put up healthy-looking leaves, but no blossoms.

It looked like I'd have to wait until spring 2013 to see more flowers. And then, this!

The blooms are pure white and smell utterly divine. Like a perfume, there are top notes and middle notes too complicated to pin down. But the overall impression is incredibly sweet and floral.

Deep down in the center of each blossom, there are faint spreckles of pink, and the fuzzy yellow "beard" that marks every iris of this sort.

This must be an extremely hardy variety, to bloom in the heat of August. Hardy, or crazy.

If it's the latter, this Los Angeles transplant will fit right in. Welcome to LaLa Land, kid!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Junking

Over the weekend, I dropped into my local Goodwill store. They are in the middle of a major renovation; when it's finished, it will be cleaner, brighter, and about 50% larger. Yay! More room for great bargains!

In the meantime, I scored these wonderful little bits. Two baskets, each $1.80, in perfect condition and sturdily made:

You see this kind of basket all over the place--Pottery Barn, Pier 1 Imports, etc.--and they aren't cheap. But I love the utility, stackability, and look of these baskets.

So one by one, I've amassed a collection. They are endlessly useful--in the kitchen to store onions and potatoes, in the bath to corral beauty products, in the bedroom closet to tuck away things on high shelves. These two will go in my recently refurbished craft corner, to store my smaller scraps of art paper.

The other find is this darling cast-iron pan for making cornbread. It only cost $2.70. Usually, I scorn one-use kitchen items; why would you want an egg slicer, for instance, when a sharp knife does just fine? But the distinctive, vintage look of this cutie drew me in:

And suddenly I remembered all those hearty soups I make in the fall and winter, and how often cornbread is just the right accompaniment. What could be sweeter than individual servings of cornbread in the shape of corncobs? That's right; nuthin'!

I will have to scrub out the slight tinge of rust and re-season the pan, but that isn't hard. The Internet is full of helpful hints on rescuing slightly battered cast iron cookware, like here and here.

Mmmm. I can almost smell the cornbread baking.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...