Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tomatoes and Basil

 Tomatoes and basil, just picked seconds ago from my garden:

How I love my 'maters!

And basil!

The thrill of picking them never gets old.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mid-Summer Flowers

Hello, Possums! I'm back after a break. There's nothing wrong; I was just concentrating on other things for a while, like taking a UCLA Extension class, having a painting party with one girlfriend, and a shopping day with another.  

One thing I don't like about the San Fernando Valley is the summer--it is hot as the dickens during the day! But if I venture out early enough, I see beautiful, fresh flowers with the morning dew--no, scratch that; it's probably leftover sprinkler water--still on them. 

They are so pretty! We grow roses really well here in the Valley:

And Morning Glories grow almost *too* well:

Zinnias, Penstemon, and Petunias:

Oh, how I love Foxgloves. I can't get these little boogers to grow in my yard, but for some reason my neighbor has them by the dozens:

Penstemon again. What a glorious color:

Dewdrops or sprinkler drops, it hardly matters: roses look beautiful with water droplets on them.

Sometimes midsummer is best enjoyed very early in the morning.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mid-Summer Gazpacho

English cucumber, yellow bell peppers, and my own home-grown, organic tomatoes:

On their way to becoming Gazpacho soup for tonight's first course.

Simple. Super. Yum.

Monday, July 15, 2013

New Use for an Old Hutch

You might remember that a few months ago I dragged home a hutch I found in the alley:

I've had fun dressing up the top of it to show off some of my china and to reflect the holidays, like the Fourth of July:

But I've largely ignored the storage space underneath the hutch:

This past weekend I realized the cabinetry below the hutch would be the perfect place for my flower-arranging things. Up 'til now, I stowed them above the dryer in the laundry room:

But they weren't conveniently located. By moving these items to the hutch, they are closer to the front door, where I go out to gather my roses. And now they are also closer to the kitchen sink, where I strip leaves, re-cut stems, and fill vases with water.

So I made the switch:

(I also tucked a basket of vitamins down there, which I want within arm's reach of the kitchen table.)

And then I had two empty shelves above my dryer. Yay, newly reclaimed space!:

I cleaned the shelving, then moved in a collection of spray paints, chalk paint, and such that had been loitering about on the laundry room counter, looking for a better home:

Ah! That's better!

Still lots of room to spare:

Sometimes, having more space means re-thinking the space you already have:

 And now, on to more creative things, like flower arranging!:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Terrycloth Roadside Rescue

Today I picked up a couple of thick terrycloth bath towels mouldering in a pile of trash that has been sitting by the side of the road for almost a week.

Icky, I know. I picked them up (gingerly, in my finger tips) and laundered them on the hot-water, extra-time cycle of my washing machine.

They are free of holes or rips but pretty ugly. The blue one is faded and the tan one is perma-stained.

To my eyes, they are perfect. People, please never, ever throw out a thick, soft towel with no rips or holes.

Maybe they are too ugly for you. Maybe they are even too ugly for donating to Goodwill. But they will always be perfect for drying off a homeless doggie who's just had a bath at the shelter!

 Photo: ginnerobot, via Flicker Creative Commons

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lovely Los Gatos

A few weekends ago, I spent a delightful long weekend visiting my sister and her husband, who live in the town of Los Gatos, California, near San Jose. What a beautiful little place! The old stores and office buildings had architectural charm aplenty:

I poked around several of the mom-and-pop stores. This floral shop, "Bunches," was one of my favorites:

The shop has a resident duck, named "Pete." (They named her before she laid an egg, confirming her girl status.):

"The Maid's Quarters" is a shop filled with Parisian and Continental things, all of them flat-out gorgeous. Love the glittery bee:

A new shop had just opened, and it was filled with the most fantastic, unusual pieces of furniture and things for the home. I was smitten with the rough, gilt-covered table and the tote that looked like a huge, green Puli dog:

One wall was painted a vivid blue. It made everything placed near it sing:

I have absolutely no need for this side table or end table, but Oh! how gorgeous are they?:

Never seen a piece quite like this. A chair-and-a-half, yes:

But with a herd of camels tromping across it? Brilliant!

A stack of painted metal chairs made me want to throw out my kitchen chairs and start all over again, with these:

This wonderful bench reminds me of how kids turn their defunct skateboards into art, or furniture. It's colorful and kicky. Wouldn't it be fabulous in a large entry, or pulled up to a dining table?

"Natural Creations" sells plants and all sorts of natural things for the garden. It is an enchanting little hole in the wall:

Outside, several water features splashed quietly. I loved this one, with an upright branch serving as the "spigot" for a little cascade of water. And floating on the surface, adding movement and whimsy, were some figs. What a fun idea!

Wonderful textures down low: terra cotta, stripped-bark branches, pebbles, and a soft, trailing plant:

I stayed clear of most of the chain and big-box stores, because why bother? I can see those in my own home town any day. But I did pop in to Sur le Table, where my sister and I were amused by these spatulas, because when we were growing up, her family nickname was "Bee" and mine was "Bug":

If you ever get up in the Bay Area, try to clear some time to visit the charming burg of Los Gatos.

It's simply ducky.


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