Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Oh Finny, how does your garden grow?


Ok, I admit it, I have precious little patience with most things in life, and that includes my garden. Now, in the spring, when I plant my vegetable garden, I tend to use *gasp* seedling plants to start out, instead of seeds. But for my winter garden, I used seeds and they are taking FOREVER. For someone used to seeing dramatic growth spurts and practically listening to the plants sprout blossoms and new leaves, I'm having a hard time with this winter gardening.

However, I am trying to be patient and here's some new photos of the "progress" I found when I ventured out into the garden between rain storms:

Broccoli, taking it's sweet ass time:

Lettuce, now rescued from snacking squirrels, making a second attempt at production:

And the mighty carrots, showing the most promising growth. Especially the one with such a strong will to live that it's sprouted up between the sprinkler manifold, brick and wire fence. I did not have the heart to thin this little fella.

So, as you can see, it's slow going in the vegetable beds in the winter time. I mean, this far into the spring veg garden and I had harvested the first of my tomatoes and was already ogling watermelons and canteloupes. Perhaps we'll have a head of broccoli by the time our kitchen is done. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that the garden is coming along slowly, since we all know how *quickly* our kitchen is progressing. *Sigh*

A sneak peek at the other hangers-on in the Finny garden: (Meyer Lemon, Black Rose, Tree Aloe cutting, mixed succulents)

Not to be ungrateful for the winter "bounty" I have going on here, but I have already picked out the seeds for my spring garden. That's right, I said seeds. I am going to attempt to start seeds for our Big Boy tomatoes, canteloupe, watermelon and cukes in my sunny nook window this spring.

I know you're all riveted. What's worse, for you all that is, is that my mom-in-law gave me a book on worm composting for Christmas and I plan to use it to build my own worm composting farm. Gross? Yes! Beneficial? Yes! Likely to come to fruition in my house? We'll see.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

And we're back.

Back from our Midwestern Christmas, that is. And let me tell you, my waistline is telling the tale. If nothing else, those folks know their food. The BEST bbq hands down, great burgers (Have you ever been to Winsteads? Oh yum.), bars, etc. Between all that and the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feasts my mom-in-law put together -- I'm just plain rotund.

I was regretting not bringing my running shoes the moment we stepped off the plane. See, it was supposed to be five degrees and snowing, which for me meant no outside activities, so I left my NB's and running stuff at home and instead brought big wooly sweaters. As it turned out, it was 50 degrees and sunny -- perfect weather for a trot through my hubby's darling childhood neighborhood. Sadly, no running was to be done in my fleece-lined hiking boots and wool peacoat, so I had to opt for long walks instead, which weren't nearly cardiovascular enough to counteract all the KC fare I was putting into my body. So now I must run. Run like the wind. And hope that all that bbq doesn't get too comfortable around my midsection.

Another highlight of our trip -- a new collection of Christmas decorations. Oh folks, if I thought the decorating insanity was localized in NorCal, KC did a good job of proving me wrong. My new theory is, the farther you move east, the crazier it gets.

A few highlights (forgive the blurry nature of these photos -- again, taken from a moving vehicle).

I like it when the ghosts and goblins can set aside their daily spooky activities to decorate their house for the holidays. I suspect that any other time of the year this is just your run-of-the-mill haunted house, minding it's own business on the corner of this tree-lined street. However, at Christmastime, they choose to draw festive attention to it's position in the neighborhood by placing themed spotlights on the facade and stringing bulbs in a circus-like manner from tree to shrub to lightpost as if to say, "Look over here! Even haunted houses expect a visit from Santa!"

The true detail of this photo is hard to discern from this sunroof shot, but let me give you a short description -- One million plywood cutouts. Oh, and don't let me forget the picture windows emptied of their day-to-day contents and filled with Christmas puppet shows. Oh, and the foyer turned Santa's Workshop. The scary thing is, things that normally get my eyes rolling, like illuminated nativity scenes, animated wilderness creatures and horrifically strung lights, flew totally under my radar as I stretched the limits of my sensory abilities to comprehend this bohemoth of Christmas lunacy.

Again, my apologies for the blurriness. However, this is the best photo I got of the newest craze in string lighting -- The Spiderman. He leaps from tree to shrub to lightpost to drainage pipe with the greatest of ease leaving behind strings of holiday merriment for all to enjoy. Unfortunately, Spiderman has forgotten his oath that with great power comes great responsibility. People of Kansas City -- repeat this phrase, "Just because I can, doesn't mean I should." Thank you.

And after all that, we've returned to the relatively safe haven of our Norcal home where NO PROGRESS has been made in our kitchen, despite the promises of our contractor prior to our departure. Perhaps this is fate's way of saying, "That's what you get for eating so much bbq."

Monday, December 19, 2005

For the love of Nyquil

With all the super frantic messiness of the holidays and entertaining, I managed to come down with a nasty bugger of a cold. Sure, it probably didn't help that hubby was sneezing with great enthusiasm throughout our teeny house and usually without covering his sneeze holes, but I try not to hold grudges. Instead I take Nyquil without hesitation and no one asks any questions.

So, in an effort to get over my cooties before heading to the mom-in-laws for Chrimmas, I took the weekend off from any holiday activities (save for the Friday night Merriment party I'd already RSVP'd for) and sat my ass right there on the couch cushion closest to the roaring fireplace and within sight of the TV all weekend for some much needed R&R.

Low and behold, it worked. I feel so much better! Who knew that actually resting when you felt sick would make you feel better? I guess in the day and age when calling in sick really means working from home in your pajamas in front of a laptop, I have not actually experienced resting when sick, more just not getting fully dressed when sick.

Either way, with my resty-resty weekend, I also got to knit, which is what makes the Finny ultimately happy and I made another OSW with all my heaps of resty time. See, sometimes, cooties can do good while doing evil:

Knitted with Rowan Tweed-Front

Oh, and for the record, this also took more than the one fabled skein to complete.

As for the rest of the weekend, I watched some horrific football (Being a Niner and Chiefs fan does not lend well to a satisfying NFL experience), wrapped some last minute gifts and read a very good book-"Moloka'i". Good story about the effects of leprosy on turn of the century Hawaiian families. I highly recommend it.

Next on the docket -- Mermaid Chair and Outwitting History while I'm buried in snow for Christmas. I'll also be heading to my newest discovery -- Commuknity-- this great looking knitting shop in my new hood. I have high hopes.

Happy knitting and Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Holiday Runners-Up

This past weekend hubby and I were fortunate enough to have a few evening hours to call our own, and with the promise of a triple venti mocha, I was able to tempt him out of the house for a walk through the neighborhood. Armed with my trusty digital cam, I snapped off some shots (ok, 80) of the most hideous holiday decorating offenders between shrieks of "Is that an animated snowman?" and "I bet you can see this from space!" I found these gems the most appauling of the bunch:

Clearly our neighborhood has been re-zoned as "Inflatable". Let's take a quick tally shall we? Inflatable Santa. Inflatable tree. Inflatable Snowman. Inflatable snowglobe with churning snow. Inflatable chimney with inflatable Rudolf. Inflatable Igloo. Inflatable penguin. I'm pretty sure that there are small civilizations that don't require this much energy to power their entire town. But oh the glory of the holidays -- certainly it's worth it.

Not to be overshadowed by their inflatable neighbor, these folks did their part to deplete the energy supply by lighting up every last object in their yard. I particularly enjoy the candy canes and mini Christmas trees lined up haphazardly around their, now-hidden, front porch. Is it impossible to get these things in straight? I swear I haven't seen anything close to a 90 degree cane since I started this exercise. One last thing, since when is Santa dwarfed by a penguin? Blasphemous.

I'll admit that this isn't the best photo I've taken. But the beauty is not in the detail of the photo. In fact, the beauty is in the fact that every detail seems to have been utterly ignored. Patriotic tree, "whimsically" draped rope lights, disproportionately small illuminated sled, randomly placed deer, mismatched colored lights. It's as though they bought a box of used Christmas lights at a garage sale and put them up with their eyes closed. There! Done! Now don't look directly at it, son.

I hope you are enjoying my ongoing holiday diatribe because I spotted two more parts of town for the next installment of my rant. Think palm trees and lights, lots and lots of lights. Oh, and I might even try to get a picture of a not-ugly house. I think it is possible to do these things tastefully and I'm determined to find an example that doesn't exist in the pages of Potterybarn or other such unrealistic representations.

Until then...

Friday, December 09, 2005

*Little sidenote*

So, I'm enjoying the laughable irony of the Adsense ads showing up alongside my blog. Has anyone else been hehe-ing with me on this? After my most recent posts berating the abusers of cheesy holiday decor, look at what was served...

I realize it may not be a great idea to blaspheme the hand that feeds me, but this was too funny to resist. It appears that I am a picture of contradiction -- criticising the decorations while hocking them at the same time.

Oh the hilarity!

I'll post more pictures (and comments) soon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I'm a holiday copycat!

LadyLino snagged this from The Mother of All Shrones and now I am snagging it, too! It was just too good of a compliment to my previous hater post. (A trend I fully plan to continue this month as I find more worthy decorations to photograph)

This is the 2005 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends! (Somewhat edited to allow for holiday ambiguity)

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate, please -- with a nice thick peppermint (not one of those gross fruity ones) candy cane to stir it with.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
If we had a tree, I'd say wrap the gifts for sure. In our case, the Hanu-Mas Fairy (as hubby likes to call it, in honor of his Jew wife) wraps gifts and stows them in the office closet until time comes to open them. ONE PER NIGHT!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
None, please. FOR THE LOVE! See my previous post. If I HAD to choose though, I'd say white lights, in limited quatities--on the tree.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but that is a decorating tradition I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to. Any chance to make out with the Mr. is alright by me.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Normally, never. However, I broke down and hung a wreath around Thanksgiving and have since added a garland to my mantle and a festive (read: red) throw blanket to the couch. I'm wild I tell you! Still -- no lights. None.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Latkes, my friend. No Hanukkah is complete without them. And I'm told that spiral cut honeybaked ham is also quite nice, although I've never indulged.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Playing dreidel with my sister on the kitchen floor back when we knew what each letter stood for. In my book, they now all stand for "take all". That might explain why no one will play with me.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Young enough to know that all the kids in my preschool class were setting out cookies and waiting up for no good reason. I'm sure my parents were the ones to break the horrible news. And then warn me strictly not to "ruin it for the other kids"

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
If Christmas Eve happens to fall on one of the eight nights of Hanukkah, yes. Otherwise, nuh-uh.

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him?
See #8
However, if you want suggestions, AfricanKelli has lots of nice ideas.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Living in the SF Bay Area we rarely see anything more dramatic than a big rain storm. However, I long for our drives to Tahoe and look forward to peeling down the mountain on my Luna. LOVE IT.

12. Can you ice skate?
We'll find out in a few weeks when I hit the outdoor rink in KC. Pray for me, will you?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Hubby gave me my Luna a few years back -- that was a pretty sweet gift. I have loved it long time.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Family and time off to enjoy them. We all race around during the year trying to be everything to everyone and this is when we get to sit down, be ourselves and enjoy one another's company. Plus, eat.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
I do enjoy the occasional brick of fudge, and the peanut brittle stuff (or is it called almond bark?). My mom-in-law also sends us these amazing sugar cookies. Sit me down with a tube of these bad boys and a hot pot of tea and I'll be happy for hours.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The giant party at my folks place. I've just recently realized what a trooper my mom is. She's been hosting these big family holiday parties (three or so a year) since before I was born, and has gotten quite good at them. At this stage in the game I tend to end up flipping latkes and drinking wine with the lady-folk in the kitchen and it is highly enjoyable. Bad part is coming home stinking of fried potatoes.

17. What tops your tree?
No tree to report here.

18. Which do you prefer Giving or Receiving?
Yes, please.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol?
There isn't usually a lot of singing at our place, Christmas Carols or not. However, there is a low hum of snoring that usually starts after dinner that is usually in key.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
YUM! I had my first one the other day. It arrived ironicaly taped to a flyer celebrating our neighborhood decorating contest. Step 1-Throw out flyer. Step 2-Eat candy cane.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A new holiday tradition

I've been containing myself since 11/24 and it can go on no longer. I MUST comment on the outrageous displays of holiday decorating buffoonery going on around me.

There are many different things that have caught my eye, from random strings of lights haphazardly thrown into a tree and left to vanquish in obscurity for the next month to an inflatable garage-sized Santa Claus and compressor running nonstop to blow the fake snow around a GIANT snowglobe.

I wonder to myself, "What's worse? Gargantuan decorations or poorly executed ones?" All the while thinking that these people are going to need some counseling when they see their electric bills this month.

Do you wonder these things? Do you laugh and point? Do you quietly ridicule and berate your insane neighbors and their animated lawn deer? If so, my new holiday tradition is just for you!

I invite you to walk with me (virtually) through the neighborhood and join in the finger pointing nature of this new holiday tradition. Let us begin the first annual game of,

"Which House is the Ugliest?"

I'd also like to welcome you into this new tradition by extending a friendly challenge -- find the ugliest Christmas decorations, take a photo and send it to me. I'll post the photos and we can all decide which house truly is "The Ugliest".

My first entrants into the "Which house is the Ugliest?" contest are below. For their benefit, I will try to make some helpful comments along the way.

(Forgive my photography, these were taken from a moving car with hubby pleading with me to roll up the window)

See, what we have here is a failure to make a decision. We've got reindeer towing a sled. We've got icicles dangling from eaves. We've got garlands woven with white lights. We've got posts wrapped with colored lights. It's just a mess of "Mommy can we get these?! Yes, fine put it in the cart." Followed by, "Hunnie can you just hang these up outside?" All of this could have been prevented with one word, "No."

Ah yes, the "We live in a magical pine tree forest" look. I especially like the disproportionally large red star tree toppers and plastic snowman window decal. Is that a trash bag reconstituted as a holiday curtain? Why yes it is. With any luck, they'll tear down the snowman bag and use it to haul all everything to the dump after Christmas. Although, we all know this will be up well into February. Anyone crazy enough to be fooled by these pine trees won't realize when the holidays have come and gone.

Here's a beaute. I think I actually slowed the car and craned my neck when I first saw it. Is it a barber shop or a house? Is it Vegas or Tahoe? And that weren't enough, they even managed to find HUGE ornaments that light up. If we're still looking for ways to punish Martha for her evil-doings, we could sit her down in front of this house and take away all her motor reflexes. *Shriek*

I can imagine the vision that went along with this crapshow. Too lazy to actually string lights, these folks just wandered down the "Random Decorations that Light Up" aisle at Wal-Mart throwing things willy-nilly into their cart. Obviously, there's no true inspiration here. A reindeer here, a giant present there. I mean, I can practically see the guy walking out to the yard in his bathrobe, stabbing these things in the ground and flipping the switch.

I hope you liked the first installment of "Which House is the Ugliest?" I'm sure this will be a month long game and I hope to include your contributions as well.

If this offended you, well I'm sorry, but I'm sure we'll be featuring your house soon enough.

Happy Holidays!