Thursday, February 23, 2012


I am probably boarding on Stalker territory about now, what with this past Sunday being my third visit to Love Apple Farms for a class, but I have no shame and just keep showing up there to take classes so that they'll let me hang out with the chickens and goats and take pictures in the garden.

You know these pictures. You know this garden.

This time, I went to find out what the damn secret was about growing tomatoes from seeds.

Like I said before, I totally blow at getting tomato seedlings successfully from house to garden. I can grow the seedlings in the house. I can grow seedlings from the nursery in the garden. But for whatever reason, I have never been able to grow tomato seedlings that *I* have grown from seed in the house into big strapping 50 lbs of fruit per plant plants in the garden.


This time though, I'm determined.

At the class, which I found to be mostly a review since it mainly focused on how to choose and sow tomato seeds, I did learn a few words of wisdom that I'm taking 100% to heart with regard to how to get these plants to go from indoors to outdoors without dying a tragic OH MY GOD WE'RE OUTSIDE NOW WHAT death.

1. Don't just grow them inside
I guess I should have known that it didn't make sense to be all, "Hey, little nubile plant that's never seen the outside light of day in its 6 week long life - SPEND THE WHOLE DAY outside and then let me know what you think." But you know that's exactly what I always did. Then I sat around wondering why they didn't live.


So, the deal here is that as soon as these guys germinate, they should start getting some outside time. Not a ton, but definitely some.
Oh good! You're alive. OUTSIDE WITH YOU.

2. Wind is your friend
So, the other way in which I've always gone horribly wrong with tomato seedlings was to let them grow all tall and spindly in a draft-free area of our dining room so that their weak stems weren't disturbed by gusts of wind from the dog's butt or whatever.

But that's the problem (not the dog's butt thing) - they need to get used to breezes when they're little so that their stems will HARDEN up and be sturdy when they're outside in the elements and nature and such.

Oh. Makes sense.

This means that when they're in the house, whether under grow lights or in the sunny window that I don't have, they should have a fan pointed at them (oscillating is probably best here, and don't be turning on one of those warehouse fans and blasting the crap out of them) so that they can pretend that they're 80s music video sluts AND so that their stems will be big and strong for the future outdoor winds they're sure to see.


3.  They need sunlight ON THEM. Like RIGHT ON THEM.
I've learned and finally embraced the fact that I don't really have a good sunny window in which to grow seedlings. But I've only just realized why my "sunny" windowsill has been such a failure. It's because the short moments of direct sunlight that would come through that window was still very high and didn't rest right on the leaves of these forming plants.

And seedlings need the light RIGHT ON THEM so that they don't grow all tall and spindly reaching for the light.

RIGHT ON THEM. (This was at the farm)

So, now I have a grow light RIGHT ON THEM. Like, almost on their leaves. And since florescent bulbs don't get hot, they don't burn or anything.

Anyway, I think that's what I learned from class. Which is lovely. And I had access to LAF's fabulous tomato seed bank which I used to seed a flat of 48 varieties of tomatoes which is now germinating happily on the bar in the dining room and spending its days outside because HELLO it was 75 degrees today.

They preferred the ski bench, but of course.

And, because I'm a garden dork, I pinned the whole seed bank so that I could choose the varieties I wanted to sow based on the pretty pictures and also so that later I could go back and grow EVERY.SINGLE.VARIETY.SOMEDAY.  Check it out at And, yes, I meant to type "tomatAbase" because it's like "datAbase", except for tomatoes.

You get it. You smart bastards.

One day outside and they're all LOOK AT ME. Sluts.

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's getting hard to pretend it's winter + a new addition

Poor Bubba.

He's a winter guy and a snow guy and a cold weather guy and we don't have any of those things. I mean, we did when we were in Montana and Europe, but now that we're home in NorCal? Less so.

Like way less so.

Not winter here.

Or here.

Definitely not wintery over here.

And those are fucking daffodils, which I'm sure are not wintery.

Yeah, our winter is not so much like winter as it is like a sort of extra cool spring.

I'd go on a bit more about the unseasonably warm weather except that I'm afraid of what Nature will do when it hears me being all "OOH It's so warm and sunshiney, winter's over. Fetch me my flip-flops!"

So, instead I'm just going on about my weekend yardwork as though it's not totally fucking bizarre to be out in a tank top pulling weeds, laying mulch and gathering daffodils as though it's April instead of mid-February.

And no need telling you people that I've been wearing flip-flops for weeks already.

I can't stop myself. Last weekend I even traded my jeans for capris and had the balls to go out to lunch in a tank top and flip-flops and these alleged capris without even a sweatshirt in case it got chilly.

Though it might have been inspired by the fact that I could open the sunroof of our new car.

Definitely a "New To Us" New Car.

That's right, friends, The Finny & Bubba Household has a new addition - a 1966 Volkswagen Squareback.

That there is one of my bees inspecting the chrome. They're very particular.

Sure, it's 46 years old and tops out at around 65 MPH, but he's got a sunroof, wood roof rack and is in excellent running condition.

Plus, look at that winning smile.

Don't tell me that you were thinking of something else when you read "+ a new addition" in that post title. You know me better than that, come now.

Plus, I've played this card before - albeit a loooooooong time ago.

I'm such a naughty tease. 

Bonus of a new car over a newborn, though?

You can put them to work right away.


Hey, call me a slave driver but this guy IS a wagon after all, and really, I was raised in a children are to be seen doing chores and not heard complaining about it kind of household, so it only makes sense that our new addition is put to work right off the bat.

Though, for the record, I did put down a plastic sheet to keep the mulch from going everywhere and I parked way away from the construction trucks and ricketty carts at the nursery so that I didn't have to come out to the parking lot and murder someone for ramming into Fester.

Yes, his name is Fester.

As in, Uncle.

Look again at the face and tell me you don't see it.

Yeah, you see it.

So - you got spring where you are yet?

Monday, February 13, 2012

I am the Ultimate Level of Perfection. [RECIPE]

I don't know whether I ever told you people about this, but a year ago I went to the doctor for a routine check up and got a blood panel done after which my doctor reported that I had high cholesterol.

Not like, "OH MY GOD IT'S SO HIGH THAT I'M DIALING 9-1-1 RIGHT NOW!" kind of high (which actually would have been more helpful than her actual response), but, like, higher than normal.

The fact that I had pulled pork tacos the night before my test *may* have had an impact on the results, but it depends who you ask and I'm done asking people since no one has the same answer.

Anyway, the result of this news was me minorly freaking out and majorly wondering WTF? because I couldn't get that doctor to do either of two things:
  1. Give me the test results (apparently HIPPAA is the scariest monster on the planet)
  2. Explain the severity and then tell me how to fix the issue
Which, in my opinion, are two things that doctors should do when delivering news of any kind - good, bad or life-changingly catastrophic. And if you're me and you're married to the BBQingest, bacon-wrappingest, meat lovingest man of all time - the news of high cholesterol is life-changingly catastrophic.

So, in lieu of my doctor figuring out how to aptly do her job and then help me in my quest for cholesterol truth, I switched doctors.

I just don't believe in miracles, y'all - you understand.

And that doctor immediately ordered a blood panel. Which I set out to have done except that one day I came home from work to find a letter in my mailbox telling me that Doctor #2 Who I Newly Loved was packing up his practice and moving back to North Carolina where, no, he will not be able to interpret any blood tests for me.


So then I did what any potentially high cholesterol having person would do instead of make decisions based on actual information - I canceled our Bacon Of The Month Club membership (I know. Quiet, you.), heaped kale onto every recipe, got super serious about the supplements and did some good old finger crossing.

Come to find out, this method of self-healing was either SUPER EFFECTIVE or my original test results weren't that bad because I just got the results of my blood panel taken two weeks ago and BAM!

Super good cholesterol.

Like, stunningly good GOOD cholesterol and just average bad cholesterol which, when combined means SUPER GOOD CHOLESTEROL LEVELS.

My new NEW doctor (this is #3, if you're keeping count), after berating my #1 doctor for not sharing the actual number or a remedy for resolving the issue the first time around, told me that I should keep doing what I'm doing because my health in general and cholesterol levels, are ideal.


AKA - Model. Perfect. Excellent. Exemplary. Conforming to the ultimate level of perfection.

So, on that note, I firstly texted Bubba to tell him that I was bulletproof and then set about crafting the world's most indulgent celebratory dinner menu.

Grilled Ribeye Steaks with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce
Baked potatoes with fixins (not all of them, just some)
A vegetable I can't recall

And I'd show you a photo of this creation except that I took it on my old phone and WHOOPSY didn't upload it before getting a new phone and I'll stop because no one cares about My Life With Cell Phone bullshit, including me.

But, you might be interested to know that my YAY! MY CHOLESTEROL IS GOOD! celebratory binging didn't end with the amazing dinner that was totally amazing.

It was followed by Pizza Night, a lunch bike to tacos, and four consecutive nights of cocktail hour. Then we ate noodles for the entire weekend (ramen one night, pho the other) and sourced the Grand Finale feast from Del Taco.

DO NOT judge me, people. I am The Ultimate Level of Perfection in my arteries and can do this kind of thing.

Meanwhile, this week's menu reflects the guilt (and potential fresh clogging) associated with the Del Taco coursing through my veins:

Broccoli soup and cabbage apple salad
Baked ziti with the Best Sauce Ever. Yep. and cabbage apple salad
Burgers with avocado and cabbage apple salad

The menu also reflects the status of my crisper which is: ALL CABBAGE ALL THE TIME.

And since I can't find a link to the cabbage apple salad recipe that I use ALL THE TIME, I will list it here. Without a photo because I suck today.

Forgive a girl, OK?

Cabbage Apple Salad
Recipe as recalled by moi
Probably from Sunset or Real Simple or some other recipe having magazine with a shitty search feature

Makes 2-3 servings
1/2 head of cabbage (red, green or both), shredded
1 apple (Pink Lady is my fave), cored and sliced into thin wedges
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
1 t honey
3 T olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and ground pepper as you like it

To make
In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. In the same bowl, toss the cabbage and apple until it's covered with the dressing and toss the the cilantro once to incorporate. Serve it right away, otherwise the vinegar makes the cabbage all soggy and it gets weird.

FYI: This goes REALLY well with BBQ, Mexican dishes and all of the other shit I have on the menu up there. Just saying.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

First (and second) beehive check of Spring.

Firstly, yes, I know it's early for a spring hive check. But, I'll have you know that winter is still hanging out elsewhere waiting to pounce on us and ruin my too early planted spring crops. Which I haven't planted yet because let's not be crazy.

But, it's been so effing warm (seriously, 70 degrees? Is it May already? No? Sad.) that the bees have been out and about doing spring stuff even though it's still technically, per the calendar, winter.

I thought it wise to do a spring check of the hive before things got serious though. Serious like the bees get too crowdy in there and decide to swarm.

I don't need that in my life again, people. Because you know that this time I won't be so lucky as to have them swarm on my side of the fence again.

Oh no.

They'll go over the wall and swarm around my neighbor's face. The shitty neighbor who hates me. And then - disaster. OR I'll get to broom bees off of her swollen face which would be fun for a minute, you know until she calls the cops or hits me with her tiny car.

Though I am legally allowed to have the bees...anyway, let's not go down that particular road. It's really more trouble than it's worth.

BUT - I will tell you that the first hive check of spring was successful.

In the sense that the hive is doing what it's supposed to be doing (cluster of bees has moved to the top of the brood chambers, there are babies in there, there are still some honey stores, there aren't any ants or beetles, it's not a fucking mess in there) and I managed to do all my bee chores including reversing the hive bodies because WOO I actually sat down and read my beekeeping books over the winter so I knew what I was supposed to be doing when I started sticking my fool head in the hive this spring.

Except it took me two tries to get it right.

Because I'm retarded and apparently have a hard time remembering more than two things when I have the din of thousands of bees drowning out my mental mind list.

As it turned out, on Try #1 I forgot to reverse the hive bodies, reinstall the Beetle Jail and I fucked up the GoPro so all I got was a couple thousand still frames of the hives getting worked on and no video. Which I am trying hard to do for you voyeurs.

Thankfully, on Try #2, I prefaced the whole ordeal with a trip to GoPro's online instruction guide (So THAT's what that button does. Oh.) and managed to get it sorted out. It's really not that complicated, I'm just that stupid.

Less thankfully, I was someone else when I did my second hive check and actually didn't mutter a single word (who AM I?) so the soundtrack is useless and I had to add a lot of annotations so that you know what the eff I'm doing out there.

At least Try #2's video covered the reversing hive bodies bit, which I found the most interesting out of the whole thing, though I imagine it would have been nice to show you the full frames of honey still lingering in the top brood box and all the babies emerging.

Aw, cute - little bug faces. Aw, pretty - shiny golden honeycomb. Oh well. There's always next time.

Meanwhile, there was one fucked up bee that I saw with mangled wings. Usually that's a sign of mites, but I dusted 3 times for mites in the fall and haven't seen any other bees with fuckered up wings, so I'm hoping that it was either a new bee (it was rather downy and small) whose wings weren't fully fluffed out yet or an anomaly that won't happen again.

I realize that last one is just false hope, so I'll be keeping an eye on the health over all so that I remedy the mite sitch sooner rather than later.

Imagine mites like fleas for bees. Not good. Also, ew.

Anyway, if you feel like watching a silent movie of me reversing the hive bodies, go right ahead.

And if you want to know WHY you'd do something as seemingly foolhardy as wrestling full boxes of bees around, I will tell you that it's because bees move up through the hive in the winter following the queen and eating the honey stores so that by spring they're all up in the top box and very little is going on in the bottom box.

Since bees work upward, reversing the boxes so that the top busy box is on the bottom and the bottom loser box is on the top, means that they'll start over on the bottom box and work upward through the boxes in a more efficient manner.

And when you reverse the hive boxes (bodies) and put a hive top feeder on top (which I did - see the video), you motivate them to go up and see what the hell is going on up there because they are hungry piglets in spring.

Just watch the video, then you'll see what I'm talking about.

Friday, February 03, 2012

...1! GARDEN

Right now it's sunny, so I'm leaping into gardening even though spring is a technical ways off, even in these mild NorCal parts. I'm probably waving the naughty finger at Mother Nature again, without any regard for the implications of last year's missteps, but this is my way.

Learn nothing. Move on. Be all shocked when shit happens just like last time.

Or at least it has been my way, historically, for a particular facet of gardening that I have just refused to pay attention to with my fullest attentions so that I could learn something before moving on.

And now that I've gotten way off course with this post already, let me swerve wildly back to my original purpose which was to tell you all that I'm done killing tomato seedlings.

I'm just done with it. I'm done feeling like a failure when I grow my entire garden from organic, open-pollinated, heirloom seeds purchased from reputable local farmers and seed banks EXCEPT for my tomatoes which I buy as successfully hardened off seedlings ready to go right into my garden to grow 50+ pounds of fruit per plant for me. 

Because I kill tomato seedlings. Like some pathological tomato baby hating monster even though that's really far from the truth.

People - you know I love my tomatoes. And not in the sexy way where all your minds just went.


Filthy, you people. Honestly.

But of all of my plants and vegetables and trees and grasses and growing things, I love tomatoes the very super most.

*pinches cheeks*

And I should be able, as a self-respecting gardener, to grow them successfully from seed. Particularly since I live in a climate that is so forgiving and offers zero room for me to spread the blame beyond my own black tomato seed growing thumbs.

Maybe if I lived in a place that got snow and had short summers. Or somewhere that has really humid and hot summers. Or some place with really cool summers. Or bugs. Or tornadoes. Or if I didn't have access to every single tool and reference material and My Mom's Need To Know Basis memory bank.

Maybe then. But the way things stand, I should really know how to consistently, effectively, 100%edly take a viable tomato seed and grow it into a big strapping plant that pushes forth 50+ pounds of tomatoes for me.

I see this like the knitting thing, in a way, since I didn't feel like I'd earned my knitting stripes until I'd knit a sweater. A sweater a real person would wear, too.

So, I feel now that I must master the art of growing tomatoes from seed in order to feel in my deep down gardeny parts like a real and proper gardener. Which means that the part of the process in which I am a complete failure - hardening off young seedlings - must be cracked.

But how?

I mean, it's not like I haven't tried growing tomatoes from seed. Or that I haven't gotten them to germinate and grow into spindly funky weird Tim Burton-esque beings in my kitchen window's weak sunlight. Or that I haven't, then, done the precarious DON'T BLOCK MY PATH, DOG/BUBBA/CAT/WIND/DOOR shuffle in and out of the house to the garden morning and night trying to get them to straighten up and fly right in the specially prepared soil with just so much water and big tons of love and not too much darkness or cold or frost or sun or wind.

I have.

But I've failed.

So, I've decided to suck it up, stow my pride and take a class on growing tomato seedlings.

But I'll only undergo this exercise with the expert of tomato experts, Ms Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farms.

I'm not going to get all star-stalkery on you here, but she's my garden hero and I keep taking classes at the farm with the delusion that I'll somehow morph into a more foul-mouthed and less refined version of this classy gal.

She's classy. You just know that she is because HELLO and also watch her in the video with Mr. Classy Himself, Eric Ripert. I do so enjoy Eric. Though, I also very much enjoy Tony, and that's probably because he's got that foul-mouthiness with which I heartily identify.

Whatever - I don't have designs on becoming some super classy non-swearing garden maven, but I do have concrete plans to grow my tomatoes from seed this year.

So I'm going to the damn class at LAF and this spring is TOMATOES BY SEED OR BUST. Or, you know, by seedlings purchased at Yamagami's if I prove to be a complete failure.

If I prove to be a success of any measure, I'm going to have on the order of about 100 seedlings, so if you're in the Silicon Valley and want a possibly obstinate yet productive tomato plant, just say the word. Then cross your fingers as hard as you've ever crossed anything before.

Wow. That sounds kinda pervy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Yup. There was some snow in Montana.

Oh my WORD we are home now and MAN did we ski the PANTS off of Montana.

No pants in this picture. Only tongues and teeth. AND SNOW.

Also, I never want to get in a car again. Or truck. Because driving from NorCal all the way to Whitefish, Montana, which by the way is almost in friggen Canada, is like, a really long way to drive.

Around 24 hours each way when you take into account all the snow storms we'd been praying for and all of the ridiculous interstate closures that we'd been praying against.

Not that closures can stop the likes of us, four snow blind idiots with ski fever and a dog who's sick and effing tired of being super good curled up in her dog bed while we play endless games of Hay! and Cows On My Side and eat gas station delicacies without sharing.

If you have not had Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Combos from a gas station in the middle of nowhere YOU HAVE NOT LIVED. A life I'd want to live anyway.

Though she does get the occasional french fry and hamburger remnant. I mean, I'm not a total jerk dog mom after all. But the novelty of a few french fries wears off when your fuzzy ass has been wedged into the truck for 18 hours in a day.

I'm sick of sitting IN the dog bed, so now I shall sit ON the dog bed.

Poor girl, she worked really hard on her I'm The Best And Yet Also Sometimes Dragon Breath Havingest Dog On The Planet routine.

I daresay that, upon arrival, she was appropriately appreciative and excited for snow though.


And, yes, we were quite excited ourselves.

Let's make with the skiing and riding and such already! Also, nerds.

It was difficult not to be out of our minds with glee all fucking week. Particularly since we arrived to find lots of fresh snow on the ground, zero people on the mountain and our cabin located ON THE SKI RUN.

Welcome to the skiing in and out place.

Bubba really kicked some magic ass on this trip planning, is what I'm saying. I mean, I think this guy - my beloved - can see the future, when it comes to snow anyway.

Because somehow SOME WAY he managed, last year in February after we returned from another mind-blowingly awesome ski trip to our as yet favorite place in the whole world to ski, Steamboat Springs, CO, to randomly and future seeingly book our 2012 ski trip to the Who's Ever Heard Of This Place Anyway Big Mountain Resort in Whitefish, Montana.

Well, that's not 100% true - we *had* heard of it in the sense that I'd gotten Bubba a hat from the place for whatever early on anniversary calls for cotton as a gift and we'd been sort of vaguely entertaining the idea of some time visiting there, BUT PAST THAT -- never heard of it.

Yet somehow, this snow future seeing man, booked a week at this magical place and then, when the rest of the continental US had FUCK ALL for snow, Montana managed to get FEET.

Good morning, Californians, this is what we in Montana call Proper Snow.

There was genuine excitement.

And genuine frosted mountains.

And genuine frozen faces.

Frozen into deliriously happy smiles, that is.

You can't tell, but she's smiling. BIG.

Bottom of the snow covered sign reads, "GO HOME".
 And so, we skied. And rode. And basked in the glory that is fresh powder, beautiful mountains, nonexistent lift lines and a week with just good friends and the dog.

For one minute, we behave.

Super easiest couple to find on the mountain.
Even in the fog.

Jada just wanted to find chipmunks. ALL OF THEM.

Don't worry, there was silliness.

And some drinking.

And pretending that we're sober so they'll keep serving us...

And then there was some more silliness.
I think it's fair to say that we loved Montana and will be going back. Just as soon as we can justify taking another vacation. Which won't be super soon, but eventually...we'll be back.

And then he said, "Let there be snow for Finny and Bubba."
Meanwhile, I've ordered seeds for the garden and am planning on the first hive inspection of spring, so we'll be shifting our gaze from snow to garden in 5, 4, 3, 2...