Saturday, June 25, 2016

Grown to Last Mixed Greens Bouquet Replaces Flowers

We always used to get a small bouquet of flowers to put on the kitchen island when we lived in the Midwest. It just looked pretty. After all, who doesn't love flowers? We don't have a kitchen island in our tiny space in DC. But we have a really nice wall vase - actually it has two levels. At Christmas time I fill it with traditional Christmassy decor to make it look and feel like a tiny tree with lights. During the summer months, if our tiny patio garden has something worth clipping and displaying, I'll use them. A couple weeks ago I had a bunch of hydrangea that looked marvelous! But sometimes the unusual can work as well. Rather than just flowers, we decided to get some longer lasting greens that do the trick. So while at the grocery store this afternoon we found a mixed green bouquet, brought it home, cut it up, and stuck the branches in each vase. The thing about any bouquet is to cut it down to size and play with it until it looks right. I suppose you could say this is my creative side at work, with a lot of encouragement from my husband who has great taste in most things! He usually knows what will look good - I just need to arrange it! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Big Fish Games

I absolutely love my iPhone and iPad. I was on the bandwagon with the first generation models, and have since updated them for my digital art work, and got an iPad for my 93 year old mother who uses hers daily to send emails and read books. I always loved pop up books as a youngster, and it was thrilling for me to have written two children's books that are in the iTunes Store. When we had the first snowstorm here in DC about five years ago, I stumbled across an interactive adventure game that I played on my iPhone during the two week hiatus. And since that time, I am hooked on these games and stories. So every evening before we start watching any serious tv shows, my husband and I sit on the couch together and spend about 45 minutes playing these mystery or adventure games. We've tried a few different ones, but it seems Big Fish works the best for us. My husband plays along to keep me company in spite of the fact that he gets quite bored since he isn't the primary player. But each of us has a strength ... I am very visual and can do the puzzles quickly; he is cerebral and can easily solve anything related to math or intricate details. I just don't have the patience - or brain function - for those sorts of things! Even though the story lines are pretty dopey, it's the time together that makes playing them significant. How long will this go on? I hope for quite some time! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Smithsonian Castle Art Panels

Last week we walked passed the Eastern Market construction zone. A walkway was also constructed to avoid being struck by flying objects and to protect the pedestrian traffic as it passes by this huge project. Within the walls of the walkway was artwork created by kids from the surrounding schools. It's actually very pretty as there is something about kid art that is colorful and unique, yet consistent! Every once in awhile when we walk in the other direction towards the National Mall, we find ourselves in the Smithsonian Castle. It's an interesting place to stop for a drink, look at rotating exhibits, take a load off your feet, or use the facilities. I never noticed before a collection of "art" strips on the north castle wall close to the front entrance. I was struck by the color combinations, but really didn't pay much attention to the back story, except I did notice one was about Alice in Wonderland. Regardless, they seemed whimsical and interesting. Perhaps the next time we return I'll need to explore what the panels are all about. In the meantime, they were obvious enough to grab my attention. I'm. It sure any one else noticed! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Urban Gardens

Some are more elegant than others, which is the case for most things. The flower gardens are abundant, but it was the vegetable gardens that I was on the look out for today while on our morning walk. We had a very large space for a garden in the Midwest. Here in DC, we have a tiny patio garden that we always plant a couple cucumber vines and a tomato plant. But that vegetable garden is in an enclosed space with a wooden fence around it. The vegetable gardens we saw today are located on the corner of busy streets, in front of the rowhouses, on the side of townhouses, and all along the busy sidewalks and foot traffic where anyone could easily grab the fresh produce, or manhandle the garden in any possible way. Some are enclosed in chain link fences to keep out critters and whatever else that might want to come by. Some are impressive structures and well manicured. Others are hastily put together and pretty much on their own. I liked the "corn field" on the corner of a place near union station. In the end, everyone is after a slice of the less urban landscape rather than the concrete jungle. There is nothing better than fresh stuff out of the garden. All it takes is a little bit of interest and finding a place to put it. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Halogen Track Lights

We have lived in DC for ten years, and for the first time, one of the track lights in the kitchen burned out. All I know is that whenever one of these has bitten the dust, no one can figure out how to remove the halogen light from the holder. My husband was able to figure out how to finally get it out, and it was a good excuse to walk down to Frager's hardware store and stock up on a few new bulbs. The slogan there is "if we don't have it, you don't need it," and with a little help from the staff, we were able to locate and find what we needed. So we got four replacement bulbs and decided to update all of them. It so happens that we had wall damage being repaired at the same time this happened, and our expert handy man, man of all trades, was kind enough to replace all of them for us, along with a couple other things that needed attention - like the squeaky bathroom faucet. Now let's hope the new halogen lamps all last another ten years. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Lost In Space Week With Old House Repairs

Compared to the Midwest, we live in very tiny spaces. And these tiny spaces are very old - from the 1890's. And as with any house it needs a lot of attention. Last week was one of those lost in space weeks where wall repairs and HVAC issues needed to be addressed. Luckily we were able to schedule two different crews to coordinate the work since the HVAC people don't deal with plaster repair - they just know how to make a mess. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned or stays on schedule. So our usual routine was definitely off kilter and we always get crabby. Hopefully whatever was done will last awhile or with wishfully thinking - permanently? In the Midwest we had a wonderful do it all handyman that was available whenever we needed him. He would even stay in the house and babysit the dog whenever we left town. Here we are somewhat lucky, and at least have a reliable handyman that can pretty much do it all too. But he is so busy because everyone needs him! His phone is ringing non stop and he is getting ready to do a massive kitchen update in Virginina, among all the other projects. I'm just glad he could squeeze us in. He's probably one of the few people we can really trust and feel confident about his work. That's very hard to come by around here. We should know. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cucumber Art

Every year we put in at least one cucumber and two tomato plants in our tiny patio garden. It's a southern exposure so they really are in a great spot. For whatever reason, the tomatoes have not done very well for the last year or three! The cucmber vines used to get caught up in all the other flowers and vegetation. We didn't even notice some of the cucumbers until they were well over grown! So in order to avoid that, we now have a sort of trellis that we use. We take a few of the tomato stakes and then wrap string around them and inside of it all the way up to the top of the fence. Every day we look at it the plants grow another few inches. But what is most interesting are the little tendrils that just seem to find something to hang on to. And when they do, they create the most interesting shapes. Some look like tiny springs and curly Q's, some look like knots, some are just flying in the breeze until something catches it or it catches something. And the crop is already starting to grow. I can't wait! There's nothing better than a fresh cucmber right out of the garden. Thank goodness they are more predictable than tomatoes. I'm sure my husband would prefer it the other way around. In Milwaukee we had a lot more space and a lot more stuff in the garden. But here we do everything on a smaller scale and still get to appreciate, and eat, the end result!