Thursday, 31 January 2008

Go Arugula!

“Guaranteed to Grow!” it promised, the faded blue letters still somewhat visible against the once-bright orange background.

Well, I thought, might as well give it a try.

This past weekend was cold and blizzardy, and aside from a from a trip to Canadian Tire to get my car fixed up to pass the out-of-province inspection (kaff-moneygrab-kaff), two trips to the gym, and an outing for groceries/wine, I stayed inside, cleaning, organizing, hanging photos, and yes, opening up that faded box.

Last year (or was it the year before?), I bought a mini herb greenhouse, complete with pucks of “growing medium” (can’t I just call it dirt?), seeds, and little pots. It’s taken me a long time to try it, not just because I felt I was always busy, but mostly because I felt bad in advance for killing all six little seedlings. Fear of failure? Not really. It’s kind of like putting yet another plant into the Pot of Death (which I think I gave to Andrea) – I’d have a moment of satisfaction, thinking how pretty it looks, then lots of guilt for its eventual -- yet certain -- demise.

Last winter, I planned to start early, then transplant the seedlings into a planter on my balcony. Time passed. In early June, I bought an urn, some dirt, two geraniums, a parsley plant and a basil. Voila! Instant garden! Everyone lived through the season, looked gorgeous, yielded beautiful blooms, fresh seasoning and two batches of homemade pesto, yet the sense of satisfaction wasn’t what it should be. After all, I only watered them and gave them a quarter turn once a week. I didn’t feel very instrumental in their thriving.

This change of town, of scenery, of climate, of life has inspired me to open that box. I would start early. I wouldn’t be too busy with friends or outings (if only…). I would coddle and care for those little seeds, nurture them into healthy, bushy sources of fresh arugula, cilantro, fennel, oregano, parsley and tarragon.

Unfortunately, the simple directions translated into harder work than I expected, which I should have expected.

First step: soak the parsley and cilantro seeds for 48 hours. Check.

Next, put one puck of growing medium into each little pot, and cover it with ½ cup of warm water for 5 minutes. Easier said than done, since the little biodegradable pots had drainage holes far enough up the sides that any water I poured in poured right out again. I eventually soaked them, one by one, in a pyrex measuring cup; the “five minutes” of soaking turned into 45 minutes of hands-on supervision. I’d place the dirt in the pot, put the pot in the cup, pour about a cup of warm water over it, then hold it down so it wouldn’t float up and tip over. Messy, yet fun, if you have nothing else to do. Which I didn’t. Check.

About 10 of each variety of seed was sprinkled onto the moist surface, except for the parsley and cilantro, which I had already figured would be difficult, the bad seeds, if you will*. The parsley had to be finely covered. Keep in mind that I was working with a 2-inch diameter pot, with a “medium” that holds itself together with some kind of invisible forcefield, and sticks to any other surface (e.g., fingers) tenaciously. I suspected that it was a sophisticated self-defense mechanism, but I still wasn’t impressed, especially after ten minutes of finicky, filthy, fumbling frustration. And then onto the cilantro, which I was directed to press into the medium until it was buried. Again, easier said than done. The peppercorn-esque balls kept popping themselves back out. Ten more minutes gone.

Finally, the prep work was completed. In less than 2 hours, I had 6 lovely little pots labeled with stationery flags in a little plastic greenhouse by the sliding doors. I also had a muddy countertop, sink, hands and pants (I didn’t want to dirty a tea towel!).

The waiting game began; the race is on.

It’s been three days; the first sprouts appeared yesterday. It seems to be such a short time for life to develop, but tiny white tendrils are creeping out of the seeds sprinkled in one of the pots, and because of this, I have hope that the others will soon follow. Maybe this greenhouse garden will be a success, and all the little sproutlings will emerge from their seedy beginnings, survive the transplant to their urn, grow and thrive in the warm weather, and we’ll be enjoying fresh herbs sprinkled on dinner every night, all summer.

In the meantime, though, the arugula has the lead. Go arugula!

*I made myself laugh with that one.

Girl's Wine Night

The fish and I had a great time. We both send our love to the Ottawa Girls for their virtual support on Saturday night...though they were no help with the bottle of wine! It was a rough go, but I finished the whole thing.

Go me.


Monday, 21 January 2008

Ride a painted pony...

As they say, what goes up, must come down. In this case, what goes in the box in seemingly random groupings must eventually come out of the box, hopefully in the same number of pieces it went in with.

Finally found the USB cable. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but there it was, in a box with my motorcycle helmet, a stuffed bunny, a teal cowboy hat, and some flip flops. I'm hoping this lostness isn't going to be a theme; I went out on Sunday to recycle (they don't have curbside pickup here... well, they do, but you have to subscribe and pay), and I couldn't find a directing sign, so I drove around and around and around... ok, enough with talking 'bout my troubles.

Without further ado, the photos!

Oh, hi Chris! Here, he paints our hallway with a lovely shade of torchlight over the yicky dingy grey-green.

It may seem, in the following photos, that he was doing all the work, while I was "just" the paparazzi. Not quite! I had the Very Important Job of taping and edging the low bits that I could reach (since it took us a little while to invest in a step ladder) and then recording the progress for all of posterity.

We were so excited to start on the back wall of the kitchen....until we applied the primer, a deeeeelightful shade of pink...yikes. This is when we started to get a titch worried about our colour choices.

Luckily, when we applied the ACTUAL paint, it showed us the colour that is real. Phew! The colour darkened with the next two coats. You can see the green wall in the background that was part of the original paint job. In real life, it's a very nice mossy green. We're keeping it.

Highlighted by the gorgeous deep red-orange wall, the beautiful plant and pot on the right was a housewarming gift from my parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for showing me that someone is waiting just for me, and for making me cry... for an entire day...

I'm feeling better now, honest.


And finally, the might-as-well-celebrate dinner, since we're almost done! Complete with wine (Shotfire Ridge Quartage, which is a variant of what I drank to excess on Christmas Eve -- note: it's more fun on the way down), candlelight, and a partially-cleared kitchen table, I made Dilly Beloved Chicken (from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry) with roasted fingerling potatoes (with olive oil and garlic) and steamed broccoli. The DG is back!

Pop Quiz: what song's lyrics (and by whom?) pervade this post? Can you find all of them?

Thursday, 10 January 2008


Aaaaaand I'm back.

It seems to have been years since I've had Internet access, thanks to the so-helpful CSRs at a provider-which-shall-remain-nameless (kaff rhymes with velus kaff), but with sincere thanks to a wonderful technician named Ted, I'm all set up here!

Here, of course, is the Hat.

We're sort of settled in, and are quickly getting the feel of the city. It's not remote, small, or hick-ish at all, which continues to surprise me. The people are nice, there's a lot to do, and it really has everything we need for entertainment and creature comforts. The only thing missing is... well, everyone else. I miss: Aaron, Allie, Andra, Andrea, Ashley... and that's just the As. No, I'm not going to list everyone, but know that if you're reading this, you're on the list and that I miss you!!!

Let me explain about the "lot to do" bit. There IS a lot to do here, like hiking on great trails (the weather's been super-mild), going to shows at the Esplanade (the Hat's version of the NAC), watching the Tigers (like the 67s, but harder to get tickets), and exploring historic downtown, trying out tons of restaurants and pubs, etc, but unfortunately, we've spent every single day that we've been here (literally) painting. The previous owners had beautiful, rich, dark-brown furniture, that really looked nice with the light grey-green walls. Our Ikea-chic pine/birch looks kinda insipid in comparison, so Chris said we could buy all-new furniture!!!

Ok, no he didn't, but he said we could paint the entire house! Kaff.

We're using (promotional plug warning) Behr paint. (You can look up our colours if you're that interested.)

We've finished the entryway, the stairs to the basement, and the stairs to the main floor, and he is putting the final coat on the hallway to the kitchen and one living room wall - it's a beautiful deep yellow (Torchlight); the other wall of the living room/kitchen will be a deep tomato/terracotta red (chili pepper). We've done the powder room (feather plume) and the ensuite, too (peanut butter), and may need to take a month or two off before conquering the upstairs. Maybe six, in fact.

I started my new job last week, as well. And that's all I have to say about that.