Proof of Improvement

There are some things I’m truly terrible at doing.  One of those things is watering plants on our porch or anywhere that I don’t see the plants several times a day.  I probably need to see a plant wilting at least five times before I will remember to water it.  If I only see a plant once a week, that doesn’t add up well for the plant.

But I’ve been trying this season.  There was one near casualty, but I’m proud to show you how that near miss is now looking:

fall bloomsIt looks positively bursting with life, right?  That’s what I’m holding on to today.  I might still be bad at keeping potted plants alive outside of the house, but I’m getting slightly less terrible all the time.  Here’s to slightly less terrible.

Watercolor on My Mind

Today I miss spending time painting (and walls don’t count).  But tell you what, other people have been painting some nice things.


painting from


painting from “A Bunny and a Bear” shop on

Shrimp (Kind of) Sushi!

Tuesday was our very first experiment with homemade sushi.  Sort of.  It was an adventure with new ingredients (new to our house, not to our stomachs), but it probably only counts as 90% sushi.  I’m kind of a wuss, which explains the 10% non-sushi.  Lucky for us, Giada saw my wussiness coming a mile away and told me in her cookbook that using cooked shrimp instead of raw salmon would be just fine.  I cooked up a whole pound of shrimp, which might have been overkill.  It sure was tasty overkill.


I couldn’t bring myself to trust raw salmon from a giant bag of frozen salmon, you see.  I don’t think it’s quite sushi grade.  Also, don’t be intimidated by putting wasabi paste into a recipe.  I was.  Turns out that when you mix a small amount into a large set of ingredients, it just adds flavor, not heat.  I like flavor.  Scott likes heat, so he threw some on top of his food, too.

Other than the flavor, do you know what my favorite thing is about this recipe?  The rolling method.  Giada told me to roll the food up like an ice cream cone.  Now that’s a mental image I understand!  It worked like a charm, and it didn’t matter that I forgot to trim the asparagus.  The bottom of the asparagus just sealed up the bottom of the nori cone.  Perfect.

shrimp rolls

Thanks, Giada!

one little shrimp

Beautiful little nori, shrimp, rice, and asparagus ice cream cones.


We also took the opportunity on Tuesday to save some flowers before the frost hit overnight.  It was a fortuitous save.

(Links aren’t working super well in this post, but you can click on any of the pictures of the sushi to get to Giada’s recipe.)


This moment of stripes in nature is brought to you by a mild obsession I’ve had with stripes since sometime in high school.  For a while, that manifested itself in way too many items of striped clothing.  That has been cut down to a reasonable percentage of my clothes, but I still sneak stripes into life whenever possible.  They’re fun without being too ridiculous, and they’re crisp and classic to boot.

Because spring is also bright and fun, enjoy some tulips from the Netherlands (In case there was any doubt, I didn’t take these pictures.  You can find out more about the people who did take them by clicking on the pictures and going to their flickr photostreams.):

In a slightly less showy vein, enjoy some rows of edible crops as well:

And that picture requires a shout-out to my grandpa.  He was a farmer in North Carolina, and he was proud of how straight his rows of tobacco were.  I like that about him.


I used to get haircuts and new clothes.  Now I buy chandeliers and replant the yard.  That might backfire when my clothes are 20 years out of date, but it’s working out well for now.

The current improvement plans are for my poor yard, which has turned into one of the scragglier yards on the block in the seven short months that I’ve owned the house.  My neighbors just have dormant grass and shrubs for the most part, but their dormant grass is more manicured than mine.

So here’s the game plan: nix the current shrubs (which is convenient, since one is already dead), double the size of the flower bed, and then eventually take over the whole yard with garden.  It would certainly solve the problem of keeping grass alive if I found drought-resistant plants to thrive instead.  That’s where the ideas end.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  No matter what the water/light/soil requirements, I’m going to be planting snapdragons.

Snapdragons have been my favorite flower since I was about three years old.  They’re actually one of my first memories.  A babysitter in Michigan taught me how to snap the flowers open to make it look like they’re talking, and it was all over.  Who doesn’t love a flower that you can play with?!  It’s like biology and Sesame Street got together and made a perfect living organism.  It was really God, not Big Bird, but that’s beside the point.

That means that my grand garden plan is based around one relatively small plant.  I guess the good thing about that is that I’m going for a loose, undesigned look in the garden (while I’ll be secretly planning it within an inch of its life).  It might just work out.

The irony of this post and this life step is that I used to make fun of my mom for turning our yard into one giant garden wherever we moved.  She created these enormous gardens all over Texas and even in almost solid rock in Colorado, and none of us in the family ever wanted to spend our Saturdays helping to keep the plants alive and the weeds dead.  It wasn’t an appealing prospect.  But now that I have my very own tenth of an acre, what am I doing?  The same thing.  You can laugh at me now, Mom.