One of the things I wanted to do to improve the bathroom was make sure our toilet is water efficient. It’s only two years old so it’s not the worst offender but I figured why not try to make it better? So I got a converter that should give low and high flush options. Unfortunately the husband says our toilet doesn’t have the right equipment inside to accommodate the converter. It may have to go back to Amazon after all.
Today is the first official day of Autumn.
That means that the garden is transitioning. Annuals aren’t looking so great and it’s impossible to keep up with flowering herbs and vegetables.
The lovely fall light on this broccoli is making me happy that it makes for pretty flowers. Do you see the bumble bee in the lower left of this?
Is it spider season for anyone else? We have the most gigantic spiders lately. It’s as if when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold they go while. See the guy hiding in the bottom of this unbloomed sunflower? This looks like an artichoke heart to me.
The pumpkin still has flowers bu no sign of growing a pumpkin yet. Seems like maybe there won’t be any in time for Halloween but maybe I’ll get some for Thanksgiving pumpkin pies!
This orchid on my front porch bloomed then grew a leaf and root from the stalk that bloomed and is now transplanting itself into the pot on the left, apparently. I may have missed the window of transplanting it myself? More importantly, how did it know there was a pot there?
The giant sunflowers on the side yard (which are safe from squirrels so far) are almost bumping against the eaves.
Despite my yellow cherry tomato plant doing its darndest to take over the yard the rose bush it’s currently covering is still doing just fine.
Goodbye summer, I’ll miss you.
Today I had the opportunity to stop by the offices of a Bay Area start-up that promotes deals of up to 70% off organic and eco-friendly products called Blissmo. They recently started a new service called BlissmoBox which offers consumers a hand-selected box of certified organic and eco-friendly products once a month. Subscribers have the choice between three or more boxes which might be snacks, home cleaning products or even intimate goods. While there I got my hands on their June offering of a “Food & Beverage” box.
As you all know, I’m a sucker for a good deal and enjoy knowing how good of a deal a got so it’s great that each box comes with an insert that describes each product and it’s retail value. Normally Blissmo sells these boxes for $19 each (plus $3 shipping).
This box included Kaia Foods Granola ($6.99), Kaia Foods Fruit Leather ($1.89), Clif Bar ($2.78), La Yapa Quinoa ($6.09), Alter Eco Cane Sugar ($4.99), Numi Organic Tea ($6.99), Sambazon Energy Drink ($2.49) and a Pu-erh tea sample. The grand total is a $32.22 retail value that you can get shipped to you for $22 (unless you sign up for 3 or 6 months and then you get free shipping). And some boxes you save even more. But what if you could get all of this for only $3?
I think you know the answer to that question from the title of this post. If you go to http://www.blissmobox.com/friend/ and sign up using my email address (alannaface at gmail.com) you will get your first box for only the price of shipping which is a whopping $3. They change the offerings each month but currently the options for your first box are a Blissful Beauty box, a Teas and Tastes box (this is the one I got!) and a Night Lovin’ box. The last one includes vegan condoms. Yeah. I didn’t know they made those either. It also includes a candle that melts at body temperature and so it’s basically massage oil. Ask yourself, would you pay $3 for a box of tea? If so, it’s worth it.
In other months they’ve offered boxes like the one above with home care products that are all eco-friendly or organic. Also, if you decide you don’t like any of the choices in a given month you can ask them to stall your delivery and either get two choices the following month or push your box deliveries out by a month.
These boxes can also be sent as gifts to loved ones or friends (know a bachelor or bachelorette for that Night Lovin’ box?) and you can cancel the service at any time. Christmas is about 90 days away and I hear they’ve got some Christmas cheer up their sleeves at Blissmo. So go. Sign up and use alannaface at gmail.com as your referral email. $3. What are you waiting for? Let me know if you sign up and what you think!
I’m writing about these boxes because I think they’re pretty fantastic and I signed up for the service but in the interest of full disclosure that June box was free to myself and a friend to split.
As confessed here, I’m still not exactly ready for Fall to be upon us. In Northern California our warmest summer months are typically September and October and true to form, this week it’s been in the 80s around our house (when it was often chilly in June and early July!). In the mornings it’s a little cool, sometimes with clouds, then it all burns off for a temperate afternoon perfect for sitting out in the backyard.
Despite some fantastic weather, I can’t help but look forward to Fall weather being upon us. It doesn’t help when the magazines and blogs I read are already talking about Halloween– it’s a month away! A whole month!– and snuggling up in front of the fire again. Any way, it makes me think about what I’ll be wearing when the weather turns cold again, and my coworker’s new boots (she got hers from a sale that already ended online) showed up in the office and reminded me how much I want these:
Most importantly, I want these for tromping around in the rain but with thick socks they would be perfect for the snow as well! My “snow” boots — from Target a couple of seasons ago for $25– have been discovered to not be water proof. I actually have no waterproof boots. Let me tell you, wet snow knows where the weaknesses are in non-waterproof boots. And to trump all those reasons: if I wear them while gardening when it’s wet outside, I can HOSE THEM OFF. Yup. I’m a women’s US size 9.
Do you own boots for rain/ cold weather/ gardening/ horseback riding/ hiking/ a night on the town? What is your favorite part about them? What do men do when it’s pouring rain?
Early last month I discovered my new best DIY friend: white spray paint. I took on a “Pinterest Challenge” and gave some old wood frames a face lift with some new paint and it was so simple (and didn’t break the bank). I had another project in mind that I gave a sneak peek of here that involves white spray paint and is one of the finishing touches on the re-remodeled bathroom.
This should look familiar from last week and there were a few guesses, some legitimate– “frame”– and some not so much– “toilet seat?” What it actually happens to be is the remaining piece of a nautical-ish sun-shaped-ish wood thing with a mirror in the middle. I got it for $7 at the Humane Society Thrift Store in hopes of fixing it up and putting it up somewhere but instead it sat in our garage for a while, got dustier and looked sadder than when I had purchased it. Eventually I removed and threw away an outer piece of it and was left with this and the mirror. Well, it’s high time this broken thing get’s fixed!
Before I was obsessed with white spray paint, there was tacky glue. We go way, way back. Back before I was old enough to use a hot glue gun on my own. In this application, it works perfectly to glue together the broken crack in the wood.
For good measure I also used some spackle since the front of the frame still had the crack showing. And because I really like spackle. I think it’s because it reminds me of Play-doh?
After I let the spackle dry a good long time, or as long as I could wait– approximately 60 seconds?– I set about sanding the frame lightly with fine grit sandpaper. Then I took a slightly damp cloth and wiped the whole thing down. Sanding slightly will help the spray paint adhere, but honestly, I skip this step for painting picture frames. It was needed here more to even out the spackle.
The first coat of spray paint goes on lightly and nice and smooth. I’ve learned not to try and go too fast or heavy with coats of spray paint. It dries so quickly on a warm sunny day it makes it easier to wait 10 or so minutes– or, you know, five– between coats. This was the first coat and I probably did three or four total plus the back lightly.
While I was at it and the door I use for spray painting was in the middle of the lawn (thanks, husband!) I figured I might as well spray paint a few other things. I got some coats on some white picture frames for around the house.
While the final spray paint is drying on the frame I set to work cleaning the mirror. Why did the thrift store put a sticker on the middle of the mirror? No idea. Why do I not have Goo Be Gone in the garage? Also no idea. I wasn’t able to get off all the residue so I’ll have to get some and come back to it.
I whipped out the glue gun for this (yes, it is sitting on top of my Restoration Hardware gigantor catalog) and after realizing that the mirror just barely over lapped the frame, I decided I couldn’t glue under the mirror.
Instead of gluing under, I glued around. This picture isn’t the best example but I basically made sure to get the glue around the edge and slightly overlapping. Hot glue dries like plastic so I figured that would be enough to hold it in place. But the mirror still had the original paper backing that used to hold it in place.
First I considered trying to glue the paper backing back to the mirror. I quickly realized that it wasn’t in great shape and barely covered the mirror so there wouldn’t be much point. While I couldn’t save the original backing, I did have neon blue card stock leftover from my wedding to use…
I simply laid the original paper on the car stock (which wouldn’t be visible on the final product) and cut around the circle with a little extra on each side that would allow it.
Next I simply used more hot glue to affix my new backing to my frame and made sure that the parts with lots of extra space went above and below the mirror. In a worse case scenario where the mirror doesn’t stay stuck to the wood, hopefully the paper prevents it from crashing to the ground.
Ready for the final resting place reveal? There’s something else in this picture that I’ve mentioned before but never shown on the blog…
What’s that peeking in the mirror!? Yup, it’s the towel fish. Just ignore the door that will one day be replaced.
Yup, towel fish. He lives behind the door. My aunt got him at an art show and he now lives with us. I used to use him as a coat hook when we lived in an apartment but now he’s just perfect in the bathroom and adds much needed– and pleasantly unexpected– color to the otherwise serene bathroom. What an attention hog. Back to my new framed mirror!
There you have it! A little white spray paint can go a long way to refreshing something that previously looked pretty sad. The crack is still slightly visible but not distracting from the final product and having an extra mirror in the tiny bathroom will make mornings much easier around here.
Could it be time to return to the thrift store for more soon-to-be-white treasures!?
In my last Farmer Friday post I mentioned that squirrels love smashing sunflowers to the ground and eating off the flowers. They’re not the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom so they usually do it before there are tasty sunflower seeds formed but they still devour the entire flower (or carry it somewhere where I can’t find it). Either way, I decided to save the sunflowers that were opened in the yard before more get sacrificed to those little buggers but it also means no sunflower seeds for me– yes most of the ones above are decorative but I’m hoping the seed flowers will make it and the squirrels won’t notice them.
If you guessed broccoli, you know more than I do because I would have never guessed before seeing my broccoli go to flower and produce these. Actually, they look just like my lettuce seeds so it sort of makes sense– seems like they’d all be related. I’ve saved some of the seeds and hope that I can replant in spring because this broccoli has been producing all summer nonstop!
I mentioned that I keep collecting more tomatoes (when I made tomato soup) and the plant doesn’t seem to be running out! I don’t really think it’s a great sign that all the leaves are dying but the tomatoes seem to be doing fine. Perhaps I should water more?
This is one of the sunflowers I’m hoping avoid the squirrels pouncing on them and taking them down. There are about four sunflowers that I planted later than the rest on the side of the house and they’ve gotten to be much taller and thicker than the others I planted earlier in the season. The sunflower pictured about is at least seven feet tall. It reminds me of the Little Shop of Horrors plant so maybe it can just eat the squirrels and I’ll get some sunflower seeds after all!
What’s the scourge in your backyard/ patio? Spiders? Birds? Deer?
It’s tomato season around these parts and I’ve been trying to think of ways to quickly enjoy the tomatoes. This is about the fourth time I’ve harvested a bowl of roma tomatoes from my plant (and there are still plenty more!) but I also had some heirloom and cherry tomatoes to use as well. The yellow tomatoes are from my heirloom cherry tomato plant that’s trying to take over the backyard.
I had previously tried a roasted tomato sauce which was quite delicious and when the husband and I tried the liquid from the sauce we both realized we should use the same method for tomato soup. I already ruled out gazpacho when I tried making that and it didn’t quite turn out as planned so I moved forward with a quick and simple roasted tomato soup.
First, chop up your tomatoes to about the same size chunks– mine were about 1-inch cubes. I threw them all on a baking sheet coated with olive oil then salted them.The tray on the left has an heirloom tomato mixed in and the tray on the right is all roma tomatoes. I also used cherry tomatoes but kept them on their own tray so that if they cooked at a different speed I could adjust by leaving them in longer or removing them early.
Into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes I removed them, stirred them and put them in for about 15 minutes longer but could have even left them in for another 20 minutes. You basically want them all to completely breakdown so that they will blend.
After a total of 35-45 minutes in the oven the juices have been released by the salt and cooking so be very careful not to spill. I noticed that the heirloom tomato tray has significantly more liquid than my all roma tray. Probably because I need to water my plant more but also because my romas are a “paste” tomato which makes them a little less watery.
This is a good shot of comparison between the different types of tomatoes. The lowest tray are the “paste” tomatoes and turned super dark but the top tray was the romas and the light colored heirloom tomato. The middle tray is all the cherry tomatoes.
The air that gets worked into the tomatoes when blending turns the mixture slightly pink, I didn’t add any cream but it certainly tasted like there was some in there because it became very creamy. At this point you could strain the mixture to get rid of seeds and any skin that didn’t blend but the husband and I decided to leave it as is.
Look at that swirled Roasted Tomato Basil Soup! Other recipes include onion or garlic but this is nice, simple clean flavors with only four ingredients. To me, this is way easier and better than making gazpacho. Another bonus is that this will freeze great if we can’t finish it all and instead of buying sodium loaded canned soup we can pop this out of the freezer for delicious healthy soup.
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
3 – 4 pounds of fresh tomatoes cut into similar sized chunks (any type of tomato should work for this, if using different types segregate them on their own tray)
1 cup of fresh basil (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat baking sheets in olive oil.
4. Chop tomatoes into similar sized pieces and put in single layer on the baking sheet– if you are using different types of tomatoes try not to mix them on sheets in case some roast faster, you can also blend them separately to make swirls.
5. Roast for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and stir, then put back in the oven and roast for 15-25 more minutes to make sure tomatoes have turned completely soft.
6. Allow the tomatoes to cool slightly before blending and blend in batches if needed. Add the basil to blending tomatoes if you are using it. You can strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds and skins. Season additionally as needed.