Category Archives: garden

Memphis in June

Or, at least, the South in June…

I can’t believe how quickly Summer is approaching – it’s been a busy Spring!

Between work (all three jobs, plus smaller side hustles!), my involvement with the Young Democrats of GeorgiaThe Young Democrats of Augusta-Richmond CountyThe Columbia County Democratic PartyRCSAS, school (all As, thank you very much!), and as a contributing writer for Live Your Dream, it’s pretty much non-stop all day, every day. I can’t really complain, though, as it’s all fulfilling, and on top of all of that, I also get to flex my creative muscles with weddings, cake baking, & personal writing, so the balance is starting to fall into place. Since my facebook and twitter feeds are already full of politics, I’ll not bore you here with it and instead share a few of the other things I’ve been up to over the past month and a half.

My mom and I went to the lavender farm in upstate South Carolina and came back with a plentiful supply! Lavender simple syrup was made first, followed by blackberry lavender jam, and I’m still filling jars full of dried lavender buds. The simple syrup was used to soak lemon cakes – one of which was for a Memorial Day low-country boil at a friend’s house and the other for Humanitree House.

 

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lavender infused lemon cake

 

Each cake was iced with a lemon buttercream and sprinkled with fresh lavender on top – all vegan, of course. I was really happy with how this recipe turned out – a nice combination of moist and fluffy, with just a hint of lavender that wasn’t overpowering.

Strawberry season started early this year (looking at you, global warming) and ended this past weekend, but I took as many opportunities as I could to hit up the u-pick. We’ve got jars of strawberry preserves stocking the fridge, which are even more delicious when spread on homemade strawberry loaf!

 

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freshly picked strawberries with honey from Duck Feather Herbs & handmade wooden spoon from The Hermit & Co.  plus mint from the garden

 

In between baking, I was fortunate enough to have two pieces of work published. The first was in WSU’s literary journal, LandEscapes, and the other was in a book produced by Weaver House Co. about textiles. There are still some books at Weaver House available, as well as some really beautiful weavings!

 

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There’s really nothing like fruits and veggies this time of year. We planted artichokes last summer, and they finally produced! I was SO PROUD of these delicious gals! It was *almost* too hard to eat them, but somehow, I managed. 😉

 

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One of my co-workers has backyard chickens and every Friday, she sells the most beautiful eggs. I don’t always eat eggs, but when I do (insert meme here), they are always fresh! Look at these pretty colors!

 

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I’m now salivating because blackberry season has finally started! I had wanted to pick my own, but they won’t let you do that at the farm with the strawberry patch due to snakes! Regardless, I got a bunch that were pre-packed, ready to make jams and cakes! The farm also has rows and rows of gladiola and zinnias and I can never leave without filling my car to the brim. I’ll save those for another post, though!

 

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ready to become blackberry lavender jam

 

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blackberry champagne cake

 

Finally, with the premiere of the new season of ‘Twin Peaks,’ I had no choice but to make a cherry pie. I know I wasn’t the only one enjoying a slice!

 

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I suppose I should have made something for the latest season of ‘House of Cards,’ which gave me LIFE. Also, Robin Wright in ‘Wonder Woman’ is seriously the greatest thing ever. I could wax poetic about her right now, but then I’d end up crying (again) so instead, I’ll just daydream about owning the Antiope Barbie doll.

In other news that will be detailed in the next update, baby Iris turned 1 and we adopted an 11-year-old deaf Boston baby named Spanky, who I like to call Spankmaster Flash. He is just the sweetest and they are getting along swimmingly! All the heart eyes for my babies.

Fingers crossed I can knock out another blog post by the end of the month. I’ve got a wedding this weekend, and am super excited about the flowers we’ve ordered – plus, the site is incredible. Now, if only I could decide what cake flavor to make next…any suggestions?

 

 

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summer wine

July was wild. It’s my favorite month because we make our annual trip to Hilton Head, the days are rife with summer storms, the gardens are overflowing, and there are many celebrations. This July was particularly full, as we enjoyed the beach, drove into Savannah, toasted a friend’s engagement, and then I flew off to Philadelphia and New York for the DNC and to see two of my best friends. Now that I have a month off from the 2nd of my 4(!) jobs, I will have some time to catch up and actually write! While I get everything in order, here’s a sneak peek through photos of what is to come.

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sunsets at Hilton Head

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sunday morning tea blending

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trespassing through a nearly demolished recording studio in Savannah

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vegan blueberry banana bread

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twilight hour engagement parties

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the shakespeare garden in central park

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celebrating the success of nominating HRC as the first female candidate of a major party

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thrift store finds & birthday surprises

Fingers crossed I can get on a regular schedule here! 😉

 

Seaglass & Stardust

Ah, June. It’s the birth month of my best friend, my boyfriend, my pops, AND Summer Solstice! The Spring season has been more than generous this year, with an abundance of Knock-Out roses, fresh banana peppers, and a plentiful supply of lemon balm & mint. I’m eager to see what the Summer will bring, as the temperatures soar and our garden continues to flourish.

Spring has had me drawn to cooler tones – shades of purple, blue, and deep pinks, reflecting the colorful hydrangea surrounding the neighborhood. They’ve shown up in my floral arrangements as well as in the jewelry I wear. I’ve added to my collection from Seaglass & Stardust with opals and amethysts, ignoring the superstition that one isn’t supposed to wear opals unless her birthday is in October! However, my mother’s birthday is in October, and since Nicole has started a “Trio Thursday,” my mom and I ordered some to share. Nicole was incredibly helpful in finding the right stones for us – I was looking for the blue, relaxing hues while my mom was interested in ones with a fiery, pink flash. Rounding out the combo with a lighter, milky opal, and with three unique shapes, she created pieces that we’ve been wearing constantly.

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opals & eucalyptus

If you follow her Instagram, you’ll notice her chunky amethysts have been selling like hotcakes! As soon as she restocked, I moved quickly and ordered one for my mom for Mother’s Day -as purple is her favorite color – and accompanied the ring with a lavender bush for the yard. I ended up receiving an amethyst ring of my own a couple of weeks later, and have enjoyed mixing and matching with my ever-growing treasure trove.

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fresh lavender for days!

Peter and I spent another afternoon at the Atlanta Botanical Garden recently, admiring the Chihuly exhibit and taking in all of the new blooms. The leafy Philodendrons always catch my eye, and I couldn’t help but take a photo of this icy opal contrasting against the warm red leaves. The Chihuly exhibit was lovely, and I’d be interested in seeing the glass under the lights in the evening. We also spent some time back at the High, checking out the Basquiat exhibit, where they’ve displayed pages of his notebooks and selected works. It was intriguing to try and decipher his thought process, often schizophrenic at times. While the show has ended there, I would encourage everyone to visit it if it arrives in your area.

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As mentioned above, we’ve had a plethora of Knock-Out roses –  and I can’t wait for the next round to bloom! Having worked for a florist many moons ago, I’ve always enjoyed floral arranging & design, and received my own florist’s license this Spring. Weekends have been consumed with a wealth of bouquets – from large baskets full for Beltane to smaller, fragrant nosegays placed in bud vases. As our current garden grows, I’ve been studying up on English herb gardens with the help of some exquisite guides from the 1800’s. The scents are wonderfully intoxicating and the herbs themselves can be used in many remedies and teas.

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amethyst ring from Seaglass & Stardust

With the entrance of June and the hotter weather, it’s time to start putting my hair up – though we don’t sweat in the south – we “glisten.” Seaglass & Stardust has started carrying the sweetest amethyst bobby pins that will do just the trick for keeping my bangs in place as they grow. That is, until I make the stupid decision to cut them again once it reaches 100 degrees with 100% humidity! 😉 Follow Nicole on Instagram to see all of her updates and sales, and take a peek at her website, where she’s been so kind to use one of my photographs!

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Seaglass & Stardust

Etsy

Sweetheart Day, pt. 2

I’m very lucky to have a partner who humors me when I say that we should go to the Korean spa and get naked with a bunch of strangers. Being a nude model, I don’t mind shedding my clothes around people, and this is a far more relaxing (and warmer!) way to do it. Naturally, Jeju has segregated locker and bath areas, so we were only able to go to the large saunas and restaurant together. Even then, I like to be as warm as possible, so while I spent much of my time in the Rock & Salt sauna & the steam rooms, he prefers cooler temperatures and enjoyed the frigid meat locker known as the Ice Room. Off our separate ways we went!

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restoration in the Jewel Sauna

Once most people pulled out their mats to go to bed, we headed back to the hotel. At only $25 for 24 hours, I’d have no qualms about staying overnight! But, it was nice to fall into that big king-sized bed, replete with fluffy pillows and hotel amenities. The hotel in which we stayed was a childhood favorite, full of gardens inside and out – including a little Japanese one! We overslept, but still had plenty of time to get in all of our planned excursions before heading home. We hit up The High first, where we were pleasantly surprised to find free admission due to a big family festival they were having that day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the museum that crowded! It’s nice to be able to go there and the Columbia Museum of Art and experience all the different events both museums have to offer.

I’m a big fan of the American and Folk Art wings, and had to take the opportunity to snap photos of work by some of my favorite artists – Bill Traylor, Joseph Stella, and Howard Finster, just to name a few. I’ve got my eye on a Bill Traylor anthology, as well as a Walker Evans one they have for sale in the museum shop. They may have to come home with me on our trip to see the Basquiat exhibit!

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“The Lion and the Bear”

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close-up of “Purissima,” Joseph Stella

After the museum, we grabbed a quick lunch from the food carts positioned outside of the Woodruff Arts Center (a veggie burger & plaintains for me, pasta and spicy meatballs for him!) and skipped down the road to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The Tropical Rotunda is just full of the most perfect plant species, especially all of the varietals of Philodendrons.

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I’ve never been one who favors photographing flora, but I have to admit that I do enjoy taking portraits of strange plants and curious leaves.

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a close-up from the High Elevation House

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your cliche “hand on plant/#liveauthentic” photo

During our visit, we delighted in the Nepenthes, or Asian Pitcher Plant, exhibit. I love love love carnivorous plants, and these were a sight to see!

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heliamphora

 

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sweet nectar

 

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next painting subject?

I’m working on a couple of photo series’ right now, as well as some smaller watercolors for another project, and trying to decide which one I want to go with for an upcoming show in the Fall. Plant portraits are weighing heavily on my mind, and I certainly have more than enough photos from which to choose now!

Speaking of photography, my boyfriend is also a talented photo-maker, and he surprised me with an image of a really special moment. We went to a Clinton rally a couple of weeks ago, where we got to hear former President Bill Clinton speak, and I even managed to take a selfie with him! While taking said selfie, my sweet beau jumped on the risers and snapped a photo of us, and gifted me a print of it for the holiday. I ran around the station with it, proudly sharing it with everyone and anyone, and now have it hanging up behind my desk. It was such an honor to meet him, and to have that second captured in time truly is a treasure. #endgushing!

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You’re due for a Rosie post, so look for one soon highlighting the her souvenir from Philadelphia and her Valentine’s present. She’s also highly in need of a bath, so I may give you a glimpse into what a spa day looks like for her!

 

Killer Tofu*

Before continuing to write about my PDX trip, I want to share with you some of the goodies I’ve been making! As a slight chill has begun to whisper its way into the season, it has moved me to create some warm dishes, full of rich color & flavor. I’ve been particularly fond of using fresh rosemary in both savory and sweet fare this past month. Having a kitchen stocked full of fresh herbs makes daily cooking even more enticing!

Root vegetables have taken center stage for me this Autumn. After enjoying a summer full of beet and peach caprese, it’s now time to slice up the beets -golden & red- and roast them with garlic, sweet potatoes, and carrots. I’m a big enthusiast of “eating your colors,” and there’s no better way than a jewel-toned dish like this one! Toss with fresh sage, parsley, oregano, and rosemary, and you’ve got some beautiful and delicious side dishes.

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roasted sweet potatoes, beets, & garlic with fresh parsley, sage, & oregano

An added bonus-they are completely vegan options! Another pantry item I can never have enough of  is olive oil. From sauteeing a mirepoix for soups and sauces to drizzling as a final touch on top of tomato pies, olive oil is one of those perfect ingredients that brings a recipe together. Not only that, it’s one of the healthiest fats you can eat! Nourishing for your hair, heart, skin, cognitive abilities, etc, it’s just about an ideal food.

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carrots & beets roasted in balsamic, olive oil, & rosemary

Root vegetables don’t have to be just roasted to be enjoyed – I’ve been using them for cozy soups, as well. I enjoyed a homemade parsnip soup in Michigan last Christmas, and decided to try my hand at my own version. This one included carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples, spiced with fresh ginger, tumeric, thyme, & roasted pepitas. Served with a steaming cup of mint tea (also fresh from the garden!), it’s an excellent meal to serve up on a grey, rainy day.

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root soup prep!

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finis!

What’s a dinner without dessert? I always, always have room for something sweet, no matter how big the dinner! I’ve been really in the mood for brownies lately, and instead of brightening them up with mint or orange, I made some with rosemary and sea salt. The recipe I found for these makes a chewy, wonderfully dense (I am not fond of cake-y brownies) brownie that surprises you with it’s hint of chili powder. Drizzled with dark chocolate and sea salt, the flavors compliment each other amazingly well. I did worry that the rosemary would make them taste…weird…but it was actually a pleasant surprise! The rosemary and chili powder heighten each other’s flavor profiles, while the dark chocolate balances them with it’s rich sweetness. These were dairy-free but they did contain eggs. I haven’t tried making them with an egg substitute yet, so if you do, let me know what works best!

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rosemary sea salt brownies

I really, really love the art of food – from the act of creating something delicious to sharing it with others. It doesn’t matter how tired I am after a full day of work, I still love to go home and immerse myself in the soothing process of making something from scratch. The change in the weather brings about a welcoming change in the process, too. It can be a little more complex as we begin to fill our refrigerators full of comfort food rather than the summer’s simple, freshly picked fruits and veggies, but the dishes created quietly warm your bones and your soul. Plus, who isn’t enticed by one’s kitchen becoming an indoor garden, those lush herbs begging to be eaten?

*props to anyone who gets the title reference!

What’s a geoduck?

The drive from Portland to Olympia can be a dangerous one, if you go it alone. That’s simply because the views are incredible. I don’t know how I managed to not hit someone or drive off the road while trying to take pictures and drive at the same time! (sorry, mom).

I got up early to drive to Nicole’s house (should I say, Lucille‘s house???), somehow managing to bypass any jet-lag out of eagerness to see my friend and her Bostons. After lots of puppy snuggles, we hopped in the car to explore and grab lunch. On the way into the city, I noticed this cute little  retro-themed burger shack, replete with dinosaurs and large wooden cut outs of cartoon characters, and thought to myself, “ooh, I hope we go there.” Nicole knows me pretty well because the next thing I knew, we were turning into the parking lot! Holy Hell. I don’t know how Olympia residents don’t eat at Eastside Big Tom’s on a daily basis. I was in veg heaven with veggie burger, hot dog, and chik*n sandwich options, plus fries, tots, and best of all, GOOP. The Goop was pretty much the main reason we went there-it’s a secret sauce they put on their burgers and you can order it on the side for your fries or tots, which I highly recommend. I was skeptical at first, being a big ketchup girl, but now I’m always trying to recreate the Goop in my kitchen across the country. It really is a THING out there! I devoured a veggie burger, fries with Goop, and a marshmallow milkshake before we headed to the farmer’s market.

Eastside Big Tom's!

Eastside Big Tom’s!

The Olympia Farmers Market, known as “The Jewel of Olympia,” really is a gem. I wish I could have bought all of the fruits and veggies they had-especially the Eastern European sauerkraut from Olykraut. (Please bring it to the South!) I did go home with the ‘Pineapple Express’ headband from Pieces to Peaces for my penpal, Adrienne, and a longing to shop there every week. The Farmers Market is in downtown Olympia, within walking distance to Budd Inlet.

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Budd Inlet

I debated buying all of these seed packets to grow in my garden, displayed so beautifully in vintage crates! It was hard not to scoop up all of the fresh lavender that many of the nursery vendors were selling…

sowing the seeds of love

sowing the seeds of love

Every now and then, I have to have an oyster or two. If you’ve ever read M.F.K. Fisher’s Consider the Oyster, then you’ll understand! How gorgeous are these?!

fresh oysters

fresh oysters

After the market, we made our way into the downtown shopping district. While Olympia may be a “college town,” it’s definitely got a big-city feel. The delicately curated shops have something for everyone, my favorite being Compass Rose. From Dram Apothecary bitters to vegan bags by Matt and Nat, stationary by the ever fabulous Cavallini & Co., and the best candles ever by Produce, I had to hold myself back from emptying my wallet there. I did, however, pick up a few 45s from Rainy Day Records. Sweet Nicole waited patiently while I sat on the floor, digging through boxes as quickly as possible! I got a couple of James Brown singles, and a copy of “Shake a Tail Feather” by The Five Du-Tones, among others. I fell in love with Psychic Sister, a vintage shop that also had tarot readings! I love getting vintage pieces from around the world, and found the most beautiful butterfly dress from the 70s that I was able to wear to a wedding recently. If you aren’t following these shops on Instagram or Facebook, you should be!

After a little shopping, Nicole drove me over to Evergreen State College, where we walked around the woods and took a little tour of the campus. It was there that I learned what a geoduck is! The mascot of Evergreen, the geoduck is a species of very large, edible saltwater clams in the family Hiatellidae. That said, I suggest you google an image of one, if you aren’t already familiar with it. Evergreen’s motto is Omnia Extares, or “Let it all hang out.” Google the geoduck. Trust me.

lush forest at Evergreen

lush forest at Evergreen

We drove around a little more, with Nicole taking us to the highest point of the city, showing me the best panorama of Olympia. By the time we got back to her house, we were greeted by yet another Boston having arrived! With 3 in her house and another up the street, it was nearly too much for me to handle! It was really hard to leave, even with the fact that there were more adventures awaiting me in Portland. Even better-Nicole drove down on Monday so we could do some pet shopping before I left! Putting us in a dog boutique is just asking for trouble…

Solo cross-country trip, day one, was better than I could have ever imagined. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such amazing friends!

The Dream is Alive…

My solo trip to the Pacific Northwest was, for lack of a better word, amazing. Even the flights there were great-I had a brief layover in Austin where I waved to my friends, Adrienne and Elaina, from the airport, and a longer layover in Denver, where I got to have dinner with my “sister,” Lizzie and manhandle her Basset Hound, Buckley. Denver was pretty awesome, if only for the fact that it has a sushi restaurant called “Sushi Totoro.”

I got in pretty late in the evening to Portland, but my lovely airbnb hosts stayed up to greet me and made sure I got settled in nicely. Sarah and Colin have the sweetest mid-century modern home full of air plants, souvenirs from their trips around the world, and two cuddly kitties. I was ready to move in permanently!  Prior to my arrival, I got to chat with them via airbnb and text, and by the time I arrived, I felt like I was visiting with old friends. From photography and ceramics to records and a love for Danish Modern, I couldn’t have found hosts to be more in sync with.

Schoolhouse Electric bedding!

Schoolhouse Electric bedding!

Tiny mid-century perfection

Tiny mid-century perfection

Their house is in a lovely neighborhood, where I enjoyed morning walks taking in all of the lush plant life and fresh air. It’s always educating to see how different assortments of plants thrive in areas of the world other than your own. Portland, known as “The City of Roses,” naturally has a ton of gorgeous rose varietals, but also an abundance of  dahlias, sunflowers, and succulents. It was also nice to see how many vegetable gardens everyone had-people were growing pumpkins on the sidewalks!

succulent dreams!

succulent dreams

The weather. was. incredible. Everyone kept mentioning how unnaturally humid it was, but it felt pretty damn amazing after dealing with 100 degrees and 100% humidity on a daily basis back home! It was also a pleasant change to be able to sleep with the windows open and not nearly die from an allergy attack the following morning! I’ve been in love with the PNW ever since I visited Seattle when I was 15, and this trip just deepened my feelings for it.

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It was hard to leave a house as cozy as this each day, but there was adventuring to be done! I actually began my first day not in Portland, but by driving to Olympia, Washington, to visit one of my best friends, Nicole, and her pups, Lucille of The Pawsh Puppy and Kumba, who just so happen to be Rosie’s BFF and boyfriend, respectively.

I’ll be sharing my favorite places in Olympia next, but also devoting a special post to all the Bostons I got to see while there! I always make sure to include Rosie in each trip, and this one was no exception. From Facetiming to toys and clothes, she got to partake in my experience, as well.

Coming up: Bostons & burgers!