Thursday, February 23, 2012

California Vacation!

I'm back from a wonderful week in LA! It didn't start out so great, considering I missed my flight by 1 minute. Literally, 1 minute. I had checked in, printed my boarding pass, and paid for my bag online the night before, so I thought getting there an hour early would be fine. Wrong. It took Alaska Airlines 40 minutes to accept checked bags, which was exacerbated by the fact that they kept pulling people from the First-Class line instead of from the Regular Schmucks line that I (and everyone else) was in. There were about ten of us that missed the 6:50am flight to Orange County that morning. I had to wait another FOUR HOURS to get the next flight to John Wayne airport. While I waited, I decided to have a really nice breakfast to pass the time. It helped

So did this...

Anyway, once I actually got into Orange County, everything went splendidly. Mom picked me up and we went to have high tea at the local tea shop. Then, we went home to see Dad and Steven.
The next day was Disneyland! I'm afraid I was so busy having fun that I didn't take that many pictures. The longest line we waited in was only 25 minutes! We went on all the big rides including Space Mountain, Star Tours (twice!) Pirates of the Carribean, The Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones, Thunder Mountain, Jungle Cruise, and the Tiki Room. We also got on the Submarines, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan in between waiting for our fast passes to be eligible. We had such a good time and our lunch at the Blue Bayou was wonderful! I'd always wanted to go and finally made a reservation this time for 2:20. Who knew you could have goat cheese stuffed salmon at Disneyland!
Anyway, here's a shot of Tomorrow Land from the Star Tours line

Mom saying something that Steven doesn't approve of...

The next day, Mom and I went to Tevana tea and a French bakery in the Cerritos Mall, then followed that with an impromtu stop at two antique/ salvage places. I got some great finds at both places and a great idea for some vertical gardening.
All you have to do is silicone some canning jars to a piece of wood and paint labels with chalkboard paint. Easy! I'm sure you could make numerous variations on this idea- add more or larger jars, wire the jars onto the wood instead of gluing them, etc. But the idea itself was really neat, I thought.

I also found a metal basket which I plant to put little terra cotta pots in for display as well as a metal feed scoop (for the chicken feed), and an egg-gathering basket! I've been tempting fate by putting the eggs in my pocket each morning; it's only a matter of time before my luck runs out there...

I also found this adorable bird bath that I thought would make a great drink stand.

Mom and I tested it out over the weekend and it worked great. Mom kindly offered to bring these things up with her in April, since I couldn't fit them in my suitcase :-)

The next day, we decided a stroll around H&H Nursery was just what we needed. The weather was blissful and we very much enjoyed looking at all the plants they had available. A tour of their greenhouse produced these beautiful orchids in full bloom:

We also marveled at the sheer number of succulents and cacti they had available. It was a terrarium-makers dream!

While at H&H, Mom bought some ladybugs to spread in the yard to combat aphids on her roses. They were still a bit cold when I took this picture, huddling together for warmth.

The next day, we went to the Huntington Library with family and had a wonderful tea at their tea house. Alas, I was again so busy enjoying myself that I didn't take any pictures! The next day, Mom and I decided to do some dying in the morning. Here was the set-up:

Soak the scarves in water and citric acid first.

Then, you can apply the dye.

Here is my shibori scarf all dyed before I took the rubber bands off.

And here's my scarf drying on the aprium tree. After 20 minutes, it was ready to wear.

Mom's scarf drying:

After we were finished dying, we went on an adventure to Little Tokyo in LA and wandered around a Japanese grocery store. I couldn't even imagine how you would prepare sea squirts- don't they look hideous??

After lunch in Little Tokyo, we went to the LA Farmer's Market which is open 7 days a week.

I got mustard seeds for pickling, several types of tea, and some goodies to bring home on the plane. It was a wonderful trip and filled with lots of fun. I can't wait for the weather here to be as nice and to see Mom and Dad when they come up in April!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bye Bye Velvet...

Velvet's owner came and claimed her last night. Our aquaintence was short, but sweet. I hope the next time a cat comes into my life, I'll be able to choose them instead of them choosing me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Yet another new skill

Homemade lotion! This recipe is from Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts book and includes the following ingredients:
Coconut oil
Almond oil
Aloe Vera gel
Vitamin E oil (from a gel tab)
Rose water
Rose essential oil

Since I like the scent of Lavender much more than rose, I did some substituting. You melt the coconut oil, almond oil, and beeswax together, then let them cool to room temp. Mix the water, Vitamin E oil, aloe vera gel, and Lavender essential oil in a separate bowl.

Once the oils are cool, mix the two batches and whip with a stick blender. It takes mere seconds for the ingredients to whip together and voila! Homemade lotion.

This recipe filled two large jam jars and one small jam jar. The "hardest" part was shopping for the ingredients!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I've been adopted

I awoke last Friday morning to meowing coming from underneath the house. I went around the outside of the house and this is what emerged from the crawl space:

It was quickly apparent that she was not a stray, since she wound herself all around my legs and expressed (loudly) her relief at being found. There haven't been any lost kitty posters around the neighborhood and she seemed disinclined to leave the backyard to go home, even though I left the gate open. I tried to check with the local kitty adoption lady, but it was a no go.

Apparently, "Velvet" is here to stay.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Spring? Is that you?

Well, Punxsutawney Phil just said there's to be six more weeks of winter, but my garden begs to differ. And, frankly, I'd rather believe my garden. I've been noticing in the last week or so that tiny bits of green are popping up everywhere- definitely a good sign that warmer weather is on it's way.
The clematis is sending out new vine buds...

Hardy chive spears are coming up...

Dutch irises have a very good headstart...

The garlic I planted in October has got a nice firm grip on the soil and will start to make bulbs soon...

And one of my favorite spring flowers: Daffodils are starting! It will be another couple of weeks before the flower spears are ready to bloom, but the leaves get taller everyday!

And this week the Ameraucanas decided they were done moulting- I got three green eggs in one day after three weeks of nothing.

Between the clues given by the chickens and the plants, I'm hoping for an early, warm spring this year (or at least a better spring than last year). Also, soon I'll be planting seeds in the greenhouse and then there will be lots of fresh growing green things to watch!