Thursday, July 30, 2009

We're Having a Heat Wave...

A tropical heat wave... The past few days have been hot hot hot! 

Normally temperatures during the Summer in Bellingham hit the 80s a few times per year but mostly stay in the 70s. Not this summer though. Yesterday the thermometer on the front porch hit 100 degrees and today it's been hovering just over 90. I hear records have been set all over western Washington and lower B.C.

Yesterday morning Woodley surprised me by installing the air conditioning unit we found in the garage that the previous owners had left behind. (We have been so blessed by everything they have left behind! Almost every time we think of something that would be nice to have we manage to find an old version in the garage! It's amazing!!) The air conditioner surprised us all by working magnificently and our bedroom is now a comfortable 74 degrees. 

My new little plants seem to be surviving the heat but I've taken extra care watering them this past week.

The extra water seems to have pleased this old rose which was growing next to the door to the garage when we moved in. It now has 2 blossoms and several more buds. We'll see how long they last before the deer find them!

Next to the rose bush this fabulous dahlia is taking off. It was a gift from my mom's friend Isabel and I am so thrilled that it is doing so well. I can't wait to see what color flowers it will produce. 

And in the planter box right next to our front walk, these little red beauties seem to be thriving in the heat. I planted them with the geraniums and other red flowers just before 4th of July. While the others aren't blooming much these days, these little guys are going crazy. Too bad I can't remember their name. 

Today I'm planning to scour the internet for good bulb sources so I can order a variety of crocus, narcissus, daffodils, grape hyacinth, and snow drops to plant this fall before we head back to California. It will be so fun to plant them before we leave and then see what happens next Spring. 


Wednesday, July 29, 2009


A week ago Saturday our friend Becca was visiting from the Bay Area and we decided it was finally time to do some berry picking. So we hopped in the car and headed out into the county to Boxx Berry Farm. It seems as if Boxx has been around forever, I remember going there as a child to pick berries with my mother. My fond memories of picking at Boxx actually served me correctly... the berries were amazing!

We started out picking blueberries. There were so many berries and they were so big that in a short amount of time my berry bucket went from this: 

To this: 

Together Woodley, Becca, and I picked 2 flats of blueberries in less than an hour. They were so beautiful! And, at only $1.75 a pound they were so much cheaper than what we could buy in the store! Yay!

Next, we headed over to the raspberries bushes and started up with fresh buckets. After bending over and kneeling to pick the blueberries it was a nice change to hunt for raspberries while standing up. Actually, we didn't have to do too much hunting since there were so many of them. 

Again our buckets were full in no time. We actually picked 3 flats of raspberries. 

According to the Seattle Times and Wikipedia our county (Whatcom) produces about 75% of the raspberries consumed by the whole nation and it's not hard to believe those statistics after seeing the size and quality of the berries we found. And after paying $4 to $5 for a tiny box of raspberries (half of which were often moldy) in the Bay Area, the $1.75 a pound price (like the blueberries) was unbelievable! We picked 15 pounds. :) 

We couldn't actually fit them all in the trunk of the car so we ended up holding some of them on our laps. We didn't mind a bit since that meant we got to eat a bunch more of them on the way home. Yum.

And now our freezer is filled with delicious frozen berries! Last weekend we made berry pancakes and berry muffins and I'm already scheming about going back to the berry fields to get another batch to turn into jam. 

What a fabulous time of year and what beautiful berries!

p.s. Thanks for all your help Becca! We couldn't have done it without you!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kite Flying, Bacon Doughnuts, Vintage Radios, and Local Mead - What a Great Day!

Last Thursday was an adventure day! (In fact, I think I should change my header to "Adventures of a Classic Housewife" I'm feeling far more adventurous than muse-ish these days...)

The day was a bit cloudy but we headed down to Zuanich Point to fly kites by the bay. Adam, who was still visiting, had a kite of his own and Woodley was anxious to fly his own kite. Since I didn't have a kite I brought a blanket, some books, and my camera. 

While searching for the perfect spot to settle down with my blanket, I came across an old picnic table with the following inscription: 

It struck me as rather romantic and I wished that the letters were E and W instead. Wherever they are, I hope K and H are still as much in love as they were the day that inscription was carved.

Here's the spot I finally picked. It was quite windy - perfect for kite flying - so I huddled into the downwind side of the picnic table. 

I just love the view down by the bay!

There were quite a few other kites out that afternoon and it was so fun to watch them flit about the sky trying not to run into each other. 

After the kite adventure we headed up to downtown Bellingham to go to the American Museum of Radio and Electricity. Along the way we dropped by Rocket Doughnuts for a quick pick-me-up in the form of delicious sugary treats.

In addition to making great doughnuts, Rocket also has a fantastic 50's Sci Fi theme. They even have TVs playing awesome old movies full of aliens and space invaders that you can watch while munching your doughnuts. 

The best part of this visit was discovering their Bacon Maple Bars! What can I say, they look amazing!!!! Sadly I wasn't in the mood for quite that much doughnut but maybe next time... 

On a side note, we dropped by their booth at the farmer's market last weekend. We mentioned the awesomeness of the Bacon Maple Bar but since they only sell doughnut holes at the farmer's market they didn't have any on display. However, on hearing how much we loved the bacon theme, they came up with the idea of doughnut holes covered in maple icing and bacon bits. I can't wait to go back next week to see if they actually do it! 

If only I could send some of these to the Toobz!

After tearing ourselves away from the wonder of the Maple Bacon Bar, we headed up the street to The American Museum of Radio and Electricity. For $5 it was a fantastic way to spend an hour or so. I loved checking out all of the vintage radios. They had so much style!

Behold the buried treasure chest radio:

The speedometer style radio:

The amazingly beautiful carved radio:

Rudy VallĂ©e's first megaphone which he later gave to Dick Clark as you can read from the inscription he wrote on it (or at least you could in the museum, it's a bit harder to make out in the picture). 

And this fantastic old TV with it's circular screen. I think it might almost be worth having a TV in our house if we could get one like this. 

After the museum, our adventures continued as we headed over to Honey Moon a local mead making establishment. Adam likes to make his own mead so we thought he might enjoy a little mead tasting fun.

The sun was just heading down towards the bay as we arrived and it looked amazing shining through the cloud of steam rising from the industrial area by the Bay. 

Since I hadn't ever had mead before, and since the taster sizes were only $1 each, I decided to try all of their 4 current mead flavors as well as their cider and cyser (a mixture of cider and mead). Below you can see my nifty selection. From left to right, top to bottom they are: Lover's Mead, Orange Mead, Blueberry Mead, Wassail Mead, CiderHead, and Cyser. You can read more about them here

I liked the Orange Mead and the Lover's Mead best and I didn't care much for the Wassail or the ciders. The blueberry was ok. But then, since it was my first time trying mead I definitely don't have very discerning tastes. 

We also had some yummy appetizers including lots of cheese.

After the appetizers we decided what we really needed to finish the evening off the right way was some dessert. Since we also felt like moving on we too Adam up to The Black Cat. It has a fun outdoorish French feeling. 

And some super cute lamps and curtains. 

And thus ended our day of fun adventures in Bellingham!


Relaxing by the Lake

The past few weeks we have been so busy settling into our new house and getting our guest bedroom ready for company that we have hardly had a chance to sit down for a meal together let alone enjoy our lakeside location. However, since Woodley's friend Adam has been visiting us this week, we've decided to put the housework on hold and just enjoy our summer days. 

The night before last we had a late dinner, followed by several games of Spades (our family favorite!) with Adam, my mother, and my friend Kelsey (a friend from high school who amazingly lives just a few houses down from us this summer!). We enjoyed our Spades games so much that we were a bit surprised that it was 2am when we finished up. Since it was so late, Woodley, Adam, and I walked Kelsey back down to her house. 

On the short walk back home we discovered a fabulous old picnic table set out on the side of the road under a "Free" sign. Needless to say, we were thrilled! I tested it out briefly and we decided to carry the rest of the way home. It is now happily situated down by the edge of the water just waiting for summer picnics by the shore. I'm so excited to have a real picnic table now and not a shiny new one but one with character (and the best price tag ever!). 

One of our other finds within the last few days was a set of lawn chairs that were hiding in the garage. I took them down to the lake a few days ago for an afternoon game of Spades with Adam and Mom. It was such a relaxing afternoon activity. Yesterday I returned and spent a few hours with my laptop browsing and catching up on stuff from the best spot in the world!

Woodley joined me as did this duck. 

My new resolve is to spend a few moments each day sitting down by the lake and relaxing. After all, isn't that what a summer by the lake is for?


Flower Frog Love

A couple of weeks ago Woodley and I traveled over to Spokane, Washington to attend the wedding of one of my high school friends. On the long drive back across Washington we stopped off for lunch in a small town and discovered several cute antique stores. I love looking for fun vintage finds and was excited to check out their selection. I was even more excited when I discovered their set of green depression glass flower frog vases. They had three small ones along with one large one. I knew Woodley would object to me buying even more green glassware since I already have a ton but I just couldn't resist getting one of the small vases.

Ever since our wedding reception last fall, I have been longing to find some good vases with built in flower frogs. Our florist (Mary Lois of Loop Event Arts & Interiors) did an amazing job and I was so impressed with her artful arrangements that I've longing to improve my flower arranging skills. After the event was over, I noticed that her team had used a thin clear tape to create a mesh like covering over the top of the vases. This helped hold up the flowers and made it much easier to create a fabulous arrangement. Around the same time, Woodley's sister and mother introduced me to the flower frog and I've been hoping to get one of my own ever since. Needless to say, I was delighted to be able to buy my very own small vase with a built in mesh cover to aid in flower arranging.

Soon after we got home I purchased some inexpensive flowers from our local grocer and had a blast arranging them in the flower frog vase. It turned out so well that my only regret is that I didn't buy the other 3 vases when I had the chance. Sadly I don't think I'm up to driving back to Eastern Washington to retrieve them. I'll just have to keep an eye out at our local antique stores. 


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Salmon Pasta Salad for a Summer Lunch

Salmon Pasta Salad is one of our family's favorite meals. Woodley grew up eating it and he shared his mother's recipe with me soon after we started dating. We've been making it together ever since. It's quick and easy to prepare and makes a great lunch or dinner. Although we enjoy it all year round it's an especially nice meal on a hot summer day when you don't feel like doing much cooking. 

Salmon Pasta Salad 
1 1 lb. box fusilli pasta
2 lemons 
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil 
a bunch of fresh dill (roughly 1/4 cup chopped)
4 scallions
a package of smoked salmon (the flakey kind, not the lox style) {I believe 5 to 8 oz. work well but I can't remember exactly, I usually use all of one package that has a piece of fish that is roughly 2 inches by 4 inches}

1. Begin by boiling a big pot of salted water for the pasta. While you wait for the pasta water to boil, squeeze the juice from 1 and 1/2 lemons to make a little bit more than 1/4 cup of lemon juice. 

{I had a lot of fun juicing my lemons using this neat Jadeite juicer I recently found at an antique store. It worked very well!} 

2. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil along with about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a bit of pepper until the mixture is well blended.

3. When your pasta water boils, cook the fusilli according to the directions on the box. When the pasta is done, strain it through a colander to remove the hot water and put the pasta back in the pot. Cover the pasta with cold water and allow it to sit for a minute or two. Strain the pasta again and repeat this process until the pasta is cooled. Once the pasta seems cold to the touch, strain it one last time and stir it into the lemon juice and olive oil mixture.

4. Wash and chop 1/4 cup of dill along with the green parts of the 4 scallions. Add them both to the pasta mixture. {I like dill a lot so sometimes I add more if I have extra.}

5. Open up the salmon package and peel off the skin from the back side of the salmon. Next, chop the salmon into bite sized (or slightly smaller) pieces. If it looks like your salmon has bones in it, use your fingers to break the salmon into bite sized pieces while carefully removing the bones. Add it to the pasta mixture and stir it up until it is well mixed. 

6. The salmon adds quite a bit of salt to the mixture so wait until you have mixed it in to do a final taste test. Adjust the seasonings by adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice. 


For lunch yesterday I made this batch of salmon pasta salad and served it along with a fruit salad (left over from breakfast), boiled corn, and potato salad (from the grocery store). It made a great summer lunch that didn't take long to toss together. (Now that I think about it, watermelon would have been a great addition to the meal though. I'll have to include it next time!)


Fixing Up the Guest Bedroom

Our new house was built in 1947 and hasn't been updated much since then, so we are excited to start doing a bit of simple remodeling this summer. 

In an earlier post I showed some pictures of us painting the living room. We still haven't quite managed to apply the second coat of paint in the living room because we took a break while we tackled the guest bedroom. I'm sure we'll get to it at some point though. We have several guests coming up to visit this summer and the first, Woodley's college friend Adam, arrived this past Monday so the guest bedroom was a high priority.

About two weeks ago we started working on the guest bedroom, with the goal of getting it done in time for Adam's arrival. We knew we had to work quickly. Above is a picture of the room before we bought the house. The family who owned it previously removed the furniture before we moved in so, when we started working on the room, it really looked more like the picture below. (In actuality, the picture below is the corner bedroom on the other side of the house but it features the same paint job and linoleum floor as the guest bedroom.)

For once, I actually had a very clear vision in my mind of what I wanted the guest bedroom to look like when we finished painting and decorating it. I thought it would be nice to use a fairly rich blue wall color with bright white trim and decor which would stand out nicely next to the blue. 

Our first step was to find the perfect shades of blue and white for the walls. The white was fairly easy to locate, we picked the brightest, whitest one we could find (Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore). 

The blue was quite a bit more challenging. We visited 2 paint stores and got 6 tester quarts and a bunch of sample sheets featuring different shades we liked. After painting the blues onto the walls in several places, we realized we liked a couple of colors that were on the tester sheets (we didn't have real samples of those colors made before because they were too expensive). So we went back to the paint store and got two more samples (Overcast and Blueberry Popover by Philadelphia Paints). The first 6 we tested are on the bottom of the photo below and the last 2 are on the top.

After painting on those new samples we decided that they weren't quite right either so we mixed them together and created our very own shade of blue! (Which can be seen around and below the window in the photo below.) We then took a dried sample of that new shade back to the paint store and they matched it perfectly. We were now ready to start painting!

First we painted the ceiling white and then excitedly started in on the blue. It was so much fun to see the room transform right before our eyes!

Once we finished with 2 coats of white paint on the ceiling and 2 coats of blue paint on the walls we were ready to think about the trim. We knew it had been painted with oil paint in the past and we planned to continue using oil paint in the future. We also knew we needed to rough it up a bit before we started painting the next coat so that the paint would stick properly. However, since our house is so old, we figured the previous coat was very likely lead based paint and we were hesitant to start sanding it and breathing in the possibly lead based paint dust. 

My mom told us about "liquid sandpaper," a product that you can rub into the paint and which roughs it up without creating any dust. We decided to try it and got our first bottle. We dutifully rubbed it on, following the directions exactly, but the paint was just as shiny as before. We figured it might have just been that brand of liquid sandpaper so we bought another and tried again. Still, our trim paint was just as smooth and shiny as before. At that point we were a bit disheartened and stopped for several days. However, Woodley didn't give up but found a 3rd product to try along with some new rougher red rags. I had kind of given up on the project at this point so Woodley spent a few hours testing it out. To our great surprise and joy it actually seemed to work! The red dye from the rags came off and left a slightly pinkish hue behind but we could tell that it was actually de-glossing the paint. In the morning we rubbed on a second coat, just to be sure, and then we finally set about painting the trim white!

Here's a picture with the de-glossing liquid rubbed into the trim. 

Although it was a lot of work painting the trim, it made a big difference! 

The next area we needed to tackle was the floor. We decided to try using locking engineered hardwood flooring since it seemed pretty easy to install and wasn't too expensive. In the photo below, Woodley is filling some holes in the linoleum with spackle and we have laid down the plastic sheeting that helps cushion the floating floor.  

I don't yet have any more photos of the process so I'll have to take more photos of the room later today to show off the rest of the work we did on the room. I just love how it is coming together!