After the strange and scary events of last week, I was so happy to be home, wandering around my yard weeding, colllecting sticks that had fallen in the last of the many winter storms and tidying up.
Fancy Fire Pits are useful too!
Then I moved indoors to more of the same, though I was waylaid by hunger and ended up cooking for the better part of the afternoon. Luckily, I had a teenaged daughter and her friend available to eat up the treats. I love baking but do precious little of it. We are empty-nesters and it is hard to justify baking just for the two of us. For one thing, we would eat it all. And for another, we would eat it all!!
Ready for baking
Now we just need a glass of milk!
I am having a green moment, green grass, green spring vegetables, green sweets?? Think pistachios!! I happened to have some in the pantry, leftover from the holiday baking bonanza so I turned on the oven and got busy. A mere hour later and we had delicious, barely green Pistachio Shortbread. And they were so simple to make- really!
Preheat your oven to 325 and lightly toast 1 cup of unsalted pistachios. Dump them into the food processor and wait a little while for them to cool. Once they are cool, chop them finely. To that add 1 1/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar (though they are a little sweet for me, I will make them with 1/2 cup next time), and a teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse again to blend. Add a stick unsalted butter cut into small pieces and pulse until it looks like cornmeal. In a little cup stir together 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon water and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Add this through the feed tube until dough comes together loosely (it will be crumbly). Press it onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet to make a 1/2″ flat rectangle and refrigerate until firm, about an hour. Cut dough into squares or rectangles and bake until lightly browned and firm, about 18 minutes. When cool, drizzle with bittersweet chocolate if you want to be fancy.
Things are warming up around here and I am so happy to see daffodils starting to bloom and grass turn green. I am not happy, however, to see a plethora of bunnies. I know, they’re cute and all, but they eat everything.
Enjoying the garden salad buffet!
The most favorite treat seems to be the buds off the top of any bulb. Tulips stems without their tops are a sorry sight, indeed. There are many who love the sight of a cute little bunny munching away on their grass and but I am not one.
I do love other harbingers of the season, like beautiful green vegetables in the market. My favorite thing to make is a mess of sautéed spring vegetables with lots of garlic over pasta. I wait impatiently for fava beans, which take a little work to prepare but are so delicious they are worth it. They do not come into our markets until June, so I will have to content myself with asparagus, sugar snap peas and spring onions for now.
I slice the onions and sauté them in olive oil, add in the other vegetables, garlic and serve it over pasta. It is delicious and healthy, too! Pour a glass of red wine and dinner is ready!
Happy Spring! Joy
Finally, I think it is actually Spring. There have been several days when I did not need my warmest winter coat, and the sun is shining. I might even start raking in the garden today and am excited to do it. I love working in the garden this time of year. After spending the winter indoors or playing in the snow, it feels good to dig in the dirt, rake last fall’s leaves and put things in order.
Even the bees have come out!
As I clean up the beds in the garden, I find myself looking forward to a few rainy days too. Not only is it good for the plants and the trees, but it also gives me an opportunity to do a little spring cleaning indoors. I do get overzealous and try to clean everything I see, from my closets and kitchen pantry to the email file on my computer. My desk at work is covered with papers and receipts as I try to get my taxes together, so that could use some cleaning as well!
I have also been thinking about getting ready for spring with a different kind of cleanse, as in the liquid fasting type, but I just can’t get psyched to do it. As I drink my second glass of red wine, the closest I can get is to skip dessert or that second handful of cashews. But I have lots of time until bathing suit season, so there is that! And with the weather turning warmer, I can always go for long walks and runs to burn those extra calories.
Happy spring cleaning, whatever your type, and Happy Spring! Joy
Yesterday was the first day of spring and the snow in my garden looked suspiciously like the snow that was there in January and February. I do love snow, winter sports and warming, boozy beverages, but I am a little tired of winter.
The first day of Spring!
I am ready to start thinking about outdoor living. Not the kind of outdoor living that requires you to keep moving in order to stay warm, but the kind that encourages long periods of sitting and enjoying balmy breezes. I am in for quite a wait. In the meantime, with the steady rate of calls and orders I have received for Fancy Fire Pits, I know garden centers and shops are starting to think about spring. If we could just get mother nature on board, it would all be good!
Here’s to warm and sunny! Joy
I love Southern California! Not only is it sunny almost every day but they seem to be so far ahead of the rest of the country (certainly the Northeast) in living the green life. On a long drive through the Mojave desert, we passed a wind farm, turbines as far as you could see! Every other car is a hybrid, though gas is quite expensive, so that may be a factor. And at each garbage can, there is a recycling bin for plastic and glass.
Wind turbines in the desert
On a different green note, when I saw what my friend pulled out of her CSA box, I wanted to weep with envy. You already know I am obsessed with vegetables and I would love to have these gorgeous vegetables in my CSA share in the summer, let alone mid March!
Cali vegetables in March!
I am building a fantasy feast of salads, roasted fennel and artichoke hearts with citrus vinaigrette and tuscan kale with slivered red apple, endive and chopped walnuts. Add a glass of California Chardonnay and I am in business. With the sunshine, mountains, ocean and lots of fabulous fruits and vegetables, I can see why people move here and stay. There are just those pesky earthquakes, fires and mudslides, but hey, nothing’s perfect!
Here’s to this week’s California girl. Joy
It is still cold and wintery outside and many of my firends have escaped recently for warmer climates. I will try not to be too jealous of their lovely bronze skin while I sport the pasty mid winter glow. I am not going to be getting anywhere warm for awhile so I will have to make do with blasting the heat at home and sipping tropical cocktails. Once I checked the calorie count of said cocktails, I was grateful to not have to sip it in a bathing suit, but I digress. My staycation will be a brief affair lasting just an evening, or maybe a day. I am planning to peruse the web in search of flowers for my garden and start thinking about spring.
My Fantasy Garden
I love a fantasy garden, especially a cottage garden which alwasy looks to me like controlled chaos. In my fantasy, the path would lead to a Fancy Fire Pit instead of a rose covered arch. Everything is possible, no plants too expensive to buy and all is installed by some willing and hardworking helpers. None of this is the case but it is a fantasy after all. My reality is more like just plain chaos and alot of weeds but at this time of the year I am hopeful and determined.
I will enjoy my fruity drink with a little umbrella, pick something beautiful for my garden and then wait for spring.
Think Spring! Joy
I have recently come across this word, upcycle, and had to look it up to be sure I knew exactly what it meant. I talk about Fancy Fire Pits as being made with recycled or re-purposed steel but what they really are is upcycled. Upcycle is the opposite of downcycle, a relatively new word which describes the way materials which are recycled are often made into products of lesser quality and usefulness. Many products that are recycled are actually downcycled. In contrast, what we do here at Fancy Fire Pits is upcycle. We take old, out of commission propane tanks, cut off the heads and make them into something new, useful and valuable in a completely different way.
Wine bottles upcycled into a house!
I have been doing some research on upcycling and found this great house made of old wine bottles. Not only is the house really cool, it would be alot of fun to empty all of those wine bottles! I can just imagine a Fancy Fire Pit in the garden, it is the perfect accessory. I have a friend making Adirondack chairs with the wood from an old roller coaster that would be another fabulous green addition. Then we can light a fire and work on emptying another wine bottle for the house. Who knew upcycling would be good for the environment and fun too!
Here is to green living. Joy
On Thursday I was happily tucked into the Boston Convention Center at New England Grows Trade Show, surrounded by gorgeous flowers and a plethora of trucks, tools and fertilizers to help your garden grow.
The following night, I was in the dark with a blizzard swirling around my house. You have to love New England!!
Despite the fact that we were without power (and mighty chilly) for two days, I did get caught up on some much needed sleep and some much loved reading. And I had a chance to reflect on how incredibly dependent I am on electricity. When the power finally came back on, I could barely wait 5 minutes to start the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry. And then I spent this morning cleaning up the mess we made, trying to cook in the dark and live in front of the fireplace. I am currently reading two books, one takes place in 11th century England and the other takes place in 16th century England. While I shivered in my house for just two days, all I could think was how cold people must have been all the time without heat and the luxury of fleece layers! The wool capes they wore were undoubtedly more elegant than puffy down jackets and fleece pants but not nearly as warm!
But I digress. Happy Snow! Joy
I am off to New England Grows trade show this week at the Boston Convention Center. I will be working hard to sell Fancy Fire Pits, and I will also be enjoying all the green and growing things around me.
Getting ready for NE Grows!
This will be my second time at this particular trade show and I am really looking forward to it. It is fun to meet new people and talk about my product and it is great to see what others in the landscape and garden design industry are doing, plus I love to brag about the amazing work that the team from https://chopdoc.com/ is doing to make my garden look fantastic. There are always interesting new products and new, though sometimes odd, colors of plants. Last year’s odd color was a bright, nearly turquoise orchid. It looked great massed together in the display but it was a little bright for me and I have not actually seen it for sale anywhere so maybe it didn’t go over well.
If I was a four-year-old boy, this would be heaven on earth, filled with lots of giant trucks and earth moving machines. As a much (much!) older woman, I will appreciate all of the wonderful plants and trees instead. In any case, as I sit here willing myself to go for a run in 17 degree wind chill weather, I will enjoy being indoors surrounded by green things and dreaming of spring!
Stay warm, Joy
I have been fortunate enough to have two vacations this winter in warm places and each time, I have looked around and found a perfect place for a fire pit. I promise this is the last post of this sort as I am now staying put in the frozen North for the duration of the winter. So indulge me this one final fantasy island photo, taken on the Caribbean coast of Panama.
Now isn’t that just the perfect spot for a Fancy Fire Pit?? I might even design one specially for this location with an island theme, palm trees, pineapples and the like. There certainly was no shortage of downed palm trees and leaves to burn and we had delicious red snapper and local spiny lobsters cooked on a fire with said wood so it clearly works quite well. Just imagine yourself enjoying this view, wearing a Panama hat and drinking a Panama Cocktail. Truthfully, the cocktail seems more like dessert but Panamanian beer is also very good! To make a Panama Cocktail, combine equal parts white creme de cacao, brandy and cream and serve well chilled – delicioso!!
Stay Warm, Joy