We took a brief, warm hike this weekend. A few shots of the desert in bloom:
In lieu of painting them, I used a little washi tape to set them apart, and added some leftover drawer liner to give a bit of weight to the bottom of the box.
While these boxes come with metal hardware, they are more like a fancy shoe box in composition. Aka: flimsy. They are perfect for lightweight items only.
And to keep it real, that’s a shot from my art room closet. See the cardboard box on the top left? A Costco grocery left over. I used my label maker to throw on a tag — but it isn’t fancy. I’m still in “use what you have” mode, and “finish all those ridiculous projects you’ve already bought the supplies for and kinda started” mode.
Making these boxes did force me to go through all of my craft supplies and get organized. Do you remember the episode of Sex and the City when Carrie realizes she doesn’t have a savings account but she does have 100 pairs of really expensive, fabulous shoes? I am not quite in that spot, but I need to cut everyone out of my life named Joann and Michael.
Next up on the 2015 project list: this Noodlehead pool tote. We head to the beach in three weeks. Weeeee!
That broccoli I let go to seed (kinda pretty, really)
Leeks, which are not flourishing. I think it’s too warm.
Peas and beans climbing the trellis
Random herbs Finny sent me to help bring bees and good insects to the garden
Tomato blooms, which might be my very favorite scent on earth. So many heirloom varieties this year!
Random head of lettuce I didn’t plant. Thanks seed companies!
Brussels sprouts, which are covered in aphids. $16 in lady bugs later, I’m just going to rip these babies out. I think they were planted too late an didn’t get enough cold weather.
At J’s house, we have a whole different batch of crops going wild – namely zucchini. I see lots of breads and stir fry in our early summer future.
Juice those lemons and freeze them into ice cube trays. Place one of these at the bottom of a glass. Fill the next 3/4ths with a good seltzer water and ice and then top with a generous splash of Hendricks.
I like to call this lovely warm weather cocktail, a Finnberg.
We are reveling in spring over here. Have I mentioned that? Have you rolled your east coast eyes so far back into your freezing brains that you just want me and my sunshine to shut up already?
I know. I’m sorry. But what can I say? We are in the last throws of Smug Season. Soon, you’ll be sipping cocktails on your patios by the glow of fireflies and I’ll be leaning over an oscillating fan wearing an iced bikini at midnight swearing at myself for suffering through another summer. (How’s that for a visual?)
Okay, that is a bit dramatic. (Have you met me? I’ve got a PhD in exaggeration.*)
Bloom where you are planted, they say. Don’t drip directly into the fan, they say. We are being dragged into another warm summer. Might as well celebrate the colors and gentle nature of spring while we can, and decorate the house with adorable cactus and desert dwellers where hilariously possible.
*Actually, I don’t.
Arizona offers a bunch of incentives if you use an alternative method of transportation for work. There are contests, gift certificates and the smug attitude you get to have all day after you’ve ridden to work, or carpooled.
I’ve done the carpool thing. It isn’t bad. I did the bus thing once and it took 3 hours from my current home. It was a time suck. This week I did the cycling thing too. It wasn’t bad either, but it certainly was exhausting. I went from riding zero miles on my bike in, oh 2012-2014, to 29 miles in one day riding to and from work.
No, I didn’t ride a horse yesterday. Yes, I am walking like a cowboy. (The bike shorts I ordered last week are still in transit.)
April is “bike to work month” and Share the Ride is offering some fun incentives. Plus, the City of Tempe has a special day — including free breakfasts and other prizes. And there are a handful of vendors in Phoenix offering discounts if you ride your bike to them during April too. There is an calendar of events here.
A new adventure! Here is to hoping I can make this more of my routine, remembering the more immediate benefits: less gas and wear on the car, more time exercising, and a much more pleasant commute.
Bike on, friends,
Another 20 jars of citrus marmalade canned this week. (And yes, I did clean up the lip before topping these babies.) I’ve finally got this recipe down after 45 jars of jam made. This time I threw in a twist, adding a stick of cinnamon for the last 20 minutes. Then, I turn that giant pot of popping, smacking, angry boiling sugar to a medium low and just let it think for about 20 minutes, with plenty of steam still rising and my stirring arm finally getting a rest.
We’ve got lots and lots of jam and a mercifully decreasing amount of both fruit and fruit flies in the pantry.
And homemade veggie pizza to celebrate. Yet another creative adventure at trying to use all that garden produce.
What’s cooking at your house?
I took a walk in the neighborhood near my office this week. It is full of colorful personality:
One woman saw me taking photos and waved her hands. When I looked over, she said, “Take a picture of my house! It burned down and we rebuilt and now WE GOT GHOSTS!”
I smiled and took a photo, much to her delight.
Phoenix, you are a delightfully weird beast.
I spent some time this weekend trying to save the sunshine — preserving broccoli and citrus. Much like the lore I’ve read in garden magazines about folks in the Midwest hiding zucchini in neighbor’s homes and cars to JUST BE RID OF IT ALREADY!, citrus piles up in Arizona come March. There are free boxes in the driveways along my neighborhood. I came into work last week to find two huge bags abandoned on my desk. We also picked the orange tree bare this weekend. (They go bad if they fall to the ground, and draw bugs.)
What to do with 30 pounds of citrus well after you’ve lost interest in eating a grapefruit at every meal?
Those cubes of lemon juice are delightful in an afternoon gin and tonic, and great for cooking. How many times do you buy one overpriced lemon for the fresh juice required in a recipe? The zest I’ll save for baking. I also juiced a bunch of oranges and grapefruit and froze them in Mason jars for an upcoming brunch.
Tangy, slushy grapefruit juice is delightfully refreshing on a hot Arizona day.
We’ve eaten so much broccoli over the last few weeks. I took what was remaining in the garden and blanched a bunch of it for future stir fry and soup.
This week, I’ll make more marmalade from the remaining oranges and see about preserving some of the kale still growing like a hormonal teen — awkward limbs and all. Soon the tomatoes, beets, onions, garlic and peas will be in. For now, the tiny yellow flowers have me dreaming of salads, marinara and pizza. The sunflowers and pumpkins are ready to sprout too.
It is certainly a very happy time of year at homestead.
I didn’t think when I studied public health a dozen years ago I’d end up spending my days in homeless shelters and learning how to prevent people from killing themselves. Or hotly debating public policy, budgets and political leanings. Happily, here I am, mired in a career that keeps me my curiosities piqued.
Last week, I spent time with researchers from California who were visiting a local homeless shelter. We discussed startling rates of LBGTQ youth who end up in homeless shelters (25%) and try to kill themselves. The basic understanding is kids are not accepted by their families for their sexual preferences, run away, end up in homeless shelters and some feel further isolation — turning to suicide.
How do we stop this? Or the deaths of the 40,000 Americans resorting to suicide annually? I am not certain, but I have a few ideas. It seems most suicides are the result of loneliness. How do we better outreach those feeling isolated and provide the necessary care to give them another day?
We are fundamentally created to live in community — to be around those who nurture our ideas, call us on our bullshit, and make us want to be better. Show me the person who tells you he’d rather be forever alone, and I’ll show you someone with pent-up anger and a proclivity to send bombs via the USPS.
With a bit of time and CDC funding, hopefully we’ll be able to come up with interventions that work. Perhaps something as simple as providing a support group for LBGTQ youth at homeless shelters in Arizona could help. We’ll see. It is one of many exciting projects on my professional plate.
And the photos of my pantry? Sometimes when it feels like I cannot control a thing in this world (See: Isis, those 47 Senators and their Iranian kowtowing, polar bears drowning in the arctic, wrinkles, more wrinkles, the number of children in foster care, those new wrinkles) — I clean and organize. While everything else seems to be spinning, the pantry is clean, meals planned and garden weeded.
Some days, hope and energy for new solutions and bean soup is what we have. This is enough.