Archive for February, 2014

A few months ago on the Not Dabbling in Normal facebook page I mentioned that my neighbor/friend had seen a newspaper article on Monster Spinach (Monstreaux de Viroflay) and wanted to plant some. Off we went in search of some transplants. We found it and go it planted in December (a bit late for us.)Monster Spinach 1

The weather was already on the cool side and we have had our share of freezes over the past few months. Our Monster Spinach didn’t seem to be doing much bu surviving.

When I got back from Prague I took a walk through the garden and WOW had it taken off. I have been picking it for a few weeks now and it just keeps growing and growing.

Today it is going in a quiche, some empanadas and a pasta dish. I know I will even have enough to freeze to add to things this summer when all the leafy greens have disappeared out there.055

I haven’t done any research on this “Monster” spinach, other than a newspaper article I read that told me it was an heirloom. I do know that when it bolts I will be patient and hold out for seeds this spring.

Do you have a variety of spinach that grows well for you? And how do you to prepare it?

Sincerely, Emily

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1. Weekly laundry loads are really small.
Oh, oops. Did I wear the same clothes four days in a row? Did I remember to change for sleeping? (no)

2. Bed is made
See below, “creative procrastination.”

3. Nose prints on back window
When was the last time I went outside?

4. Creative procrastination
Made a cake in the middle of a Wednesday? Check. Swept kitchen floor? Check. Extended phone call with daughter? Check.

5. Oh, you get to “leave” work at 5 p.m.?
How cute.

6. What’s a “business line?”
Is there anyone who doesn’t have my phone number?

7. Don’t open the heating bill without a strong drink in your hand
No such thing as setting the thermostat for when people are in the house. People are always in the house.

8. Starbucks is my conference room
At least they clean their toilets regularly.

9. We call it a “perk.”
Remember that drink in your hand? Yeah, I have a drink in my hand.

10. You never shop on the weekends or after 5 p.m.
That’s when all the cube farmers are there.

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I know I haven’t been posting regularly… I think I have a pretty good excuse. A few weeks ago, my husband came home from work on Friday night and told me that he was going to Prague the following Friday for some meetings. Prague! This same trip almost happened 6 months ago, but never solidified. This time, his airline ticket was already purchased.

Looking toward "New Town" from Charles Bridge

Looking toward “New Town” from Charles Bridge

I have about a 48 hour conversation/battle in my head about the trip. Should I go? Is it even a good idea if I go? I mean, I still can’t walk very far or very fast. By Monday morning, I was searching for airfare and had booked my ticket.

"Old Town" Square

“Old Town” Square

We were only there 5 full days and saw as much as we could. I managed to come down with a terrible cold half-way through the trip, so half of it is sort of a blur. But it was worth it.  Everywhere you look you see something old and beautiful. 015Have you been to the Prague?

Sincerely, Emily

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Blogging perks

I  somehow got on the Renee’s Garden media list, so they let me order seeds every year!

Here’s what I’m planting, along with the tomatoes and peppers that I grow from my saved seeds.

Beans: Nickel Filet and Bush Rolande
Cabbage: Baby Pixie
Carrot: my perennial favorite mix “Circus Circus” tricolor/
Eggplants: Italian Trio
Leeks: Striesen (a new variety for me. I’ve been doing the Baby Primors last couple of years)
Pak  Choi: Baby Green Fortune
Squash: Delicata Butternut
Zucchini: Raven
Basil: Italian Pesto
Celery: Amsterdam
Parsley: Sweet Curley

AND my favorite Sunflower Chocolate Cherry, with a Chocolate Daisy to match (!).

Now if only this snow would Go Away.

What are you planting?

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The endless winter

Probably 30″ of snow in the backyard— it’s been death by a thousands little snowfalls this year. Two inches here, six inches there, not too bad shoveling-wise, but it’s been just one after the other, with something like 37 separate snowfalls in the past 40-45 days. The season total- with a month of winter to go, is 62″, a 20 year record.

And with zero melting in between. It just stays below freezing, often well below freezing. Along my back walk, where I’ve shoveled the snow up onto the yard, the wall of snow is at least shoulder height.

Usually in winter it’s kind of fun to track the animals based on their footprints, but this year there are no footprints— they are either traveling under the snow or they are nowhere.

Likewise the birds. I’m not seeing any. There were some bright blue finch-like ones on my porch about 10 days ago (someone suggested indigo buntings, and they do look like that, but we’re awfully far north for indigo buntings.), but I haven’t even seen a sparrow in a week. I always leave seed pods for them— angelina, phlox, sedum, coneflower— but the snow is so deep that the 2 foot tall heads of the plants are buried. There’s only northern sea oats and some monarda tall enough to still be visible.

Weather report calls for four days with highs below zero (that’s fahrenheit, folks). Then a maybe 33º on Thursday, before it plunges again for almost a week. Oh, and two possible snow “events” in there too.

I like winter as a rule, but I’m just worn out by this one.

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I have been storing my organic ground pepper in a jar and for some reason haven’t gotten around to refilling the shakers.

Now I wish I had!opps!Opps! That’s a little too much pepper with my morning eggs. I made the mistake of shaking it from the open jar instead of just taking a pinch or two.

Clean-up when fairly well. The egg was edible, a bit peppery, but edible. I sneezed quite a bit too.

What type of mishaps have you had lately?

Sincerely, Emily

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It was pretty successful, actually.

Of course, I like to clean (don’t tell my kids), and I get positively giddy over big reorganization projects. Some of the fussiness of the way Apartment Therapy goes about it (flowers! Frame That Art! Was there something about cute hand creams? I d’no) set my teeth on edge, but I get it. All clean and no play makes for a let’s-not-finish-the-January-Cure.

So here’s a day by day:

1. The First Step: Create a Project List
Yup. Did it. However, I must confess that I have on-going lists. I have a whole moleskin devoted to lists. One of the things I put on the list was painting chalkboards at strategic spots around the house so I could make lists.

2. Weekend Chores: Flowers & Floors
Well, you know my feeling about flowers. Expensive, chore-like, and unsustainable. Floors are the one big task of the cure that I really regret missing. That was the weekend of the 12″ snow, so I shoveled. Does cleaning the sidewalk count?

3. 10 Mindful Minutes: Get a Fresh Perspective
Loved this. Not sure how it affected the cleaning project, but I loved having an actual excuse to sit and stare out the window. “Hey, the Cure said…

4. A Simple Step to Success: Set Up an Outbox January Cure:
I don’t need an outbox. I need a time machine. My problem is not that I don’t get rid of things I don’t need. It’s that I get rid of things I shouldn’t. I spend a lot of time going through trash cans (yes, and dumpsters) for the stuff that I should not have thrown out.

5. You Can Do It: Pick a Project to Cross Off Your List
I managed to do one of them– cleaning the basement, including my list-ready chalkboards. Did not get to the other one, figuring out a solution for my several dozen necklaces.

6. Making Your Home Your Own: Prep Artwork for Framing & Display
I rolled my eyes at this one, but in fact I actually did do this, because when I was cleaning the basement I found a beautiful drawing by my old art buddy Karen Lyverse. It is now hanging in my foyer. Thanks, January Cure.

7. Weekend Chores: Flowers, Kitchen Organizing & Cleaning, Make a Meal
Sweetie, flowers again? Also, I make all my meals already. Do people who live in apartments not make meals?  But yes, kitchen organizing. I love kitchen organizing. Now, there wasn’t that much organizing to do this year, since my ex organized me out of most of my stuff already, but I did get a 20-year goal completed and managed to caulk behind the sink. Don’t ask.

8. Keep Yourself on Track: Get a Get-Together Together
That’s for today. But it’s not for the January Cure, it’s gathering a couple of girlfriends for a major rant on my evil ex.

9. The Clutter Filter: Create a Landing Strip
Sigh. Seriously, do grownups need a special place to put stuff until they put it away? Just for god’s sake put stuff away.

10. Unplug for an Evening: Try a Media Fast

11. The Halfway Point!: Project Progress
Oh, was I supposed to track this halfway through?

12. Weekend Chores: Flowers, Bedroom Cleaning & Wardrobe Organizing
Yeah, that was the necklaces (the rest of the bedroom got reorganized in the break up)

13. Less Mess & Stress: Getting Your Paperwork & Files Organized
From this I infer that people don’t routinely keep their paperwork and files organized.

14. Worth It: Clear Up Cord Clutter
I don’t have electronics, for the most part.

15. Declutter & Organize: Bathroom Cabinets Cleanout
I was into this, until I discovered that my medicine cabinet has almost nothing in it. Can’t decide if this is empowering or depressing.

16. Lightening Up: Declutter Media Collections
Also not a media consumer. I would love to get rid of Wei’s records, still in my basement, but that would probably not be in the spirit of “amicable divorce.”

17. Weekend Chores: Flowers, Outbox, Living Room & Lighting

18. The Assignment We’ve All Been Waiting For
No clue.

19. A Gift to Yourself: Hang that Artwork!
And it looks just great. Thanks for the push, JC.

20. Final Stretch: The 60 Minute Quick Clean
I have no idea what this was. Are you seeing a theme here? Towards the “end days” it begins to get difficult to keep going.

21. The Last Lap; 22. Weekend Chores
I think the Apartment Cure people were getting tired too.

I will definitely do it again next year.

Did you do the January Cure? Do you like it better than traditional spring cleaning?

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Sunday photos: Groundhog Day

Yes, I know everyone is tired of snow (even our friends on the Gulf Coast).

Here in Chicago, we’ve had some accumulating snow 30 of the last 39 days. We’re about to break a 20-year snowfall record, with more than a month of winter to go. Plus, it’s been below freezing nearly every one of those days, so it isn’t going away. It just keeps piling up. The snow I’ve piled up along my backyard walkway is now over hip-height.

But sometimes, it’s just pretty. (Shot at the North Park Village Nature Center.)

DSCN1061 DSCN1087 DSCN1077

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