June 30, 2010

Gooseberries. Not So Much.

I was SO. EXCITED. to have a fruit bush in our backyard when we bought our Holyoke Home! I grew up stuffing giant handfuls of blueberries and raspberries into my mouth during the summer months as a little girl with glasses (providing those around me with a brief respite from THE TALKING). So I was eager to lovingly care for and harvest berries from our very own bush. Our very own bush of gooseberries.

Not so much.

First? The taste.  Gooseberries taste like a cross between a sour grape and a sour blueberry.  They make places pucker you didn't even know you had.

Second? The pain. Gooseberries are a pain in the ass: their floppy fronds flail and collapse onto the bed around them. And they are a pain literally (image courtesy of yougrowgirl.com, image commentary courtesy of Holyoke Home.)
THEN, when you risk bodily injury getting a gooseberry off the bush, are you left with a piece of fruit perfect for eating? NO. You have to pull tiny things off EACH END of EACH BERRY.

Free to good home anyone who is willing to dig it up: One giant gooseberry bush.

June 28, 2010

Backyard Before and After - Year 1

Oh interweb. I had no idea how much I would love our little backyard. No idea. I could stare at it scheming - literally - for hours. Also? I had no idea I would love digging in the dirt so much. It's like really cheap therapy.

The nice thing about this yard? If ALL I'd done was plant a daisy and throw down some mulch - it would still look 1435% better.  Before (panning from left to right around the yard):
And now: (panning around from left to right again)

Not to toot my own horn, but: toot.

June 25, 2010

Farm Share Friday!

**Every Friday through October, Holyoke Home is posting images from our weekly farm share at Mountain View Farm in Easthampton. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what the farm has to offer!**

How many photos of the farm are too many for one day? Seriously. I don't want to lose you, but I have so much to post this week.   Garlic Scapes - potent!
Snap Peas, snow peas and shelling peas were ready.
The flowers really benefitted from not being picked last week.
In terms of other veggies? The share this week was truly bountiful: beets, summer squash, fennel, chinese cabbage, scallions and every braising and salad green known to man.
Please become a follower if you enjoyed this post!

June 23, 2010

Back Yard Fence

Being that we live in a row house, our neighbors' yard is very, very close. And our neighbor is not nearly so interested in creating anything close to something recognizable as a garden. In fact, our neighbors' yard is more like a jungle. A jungle of ugly.

We needed a fence.

The fence is split bamboo in 13 foot lengths. We bought six of them from our local Ace Hardware store, Highland Hardware and Bike Shop. Mr. Man reinforced the existing fence supports, removed the BARBED WIRE (what in the holy hell goodness was BARBED WIRE doing on a backyard fence?! Wait. Don't answer) and secured the fence to the (now) secure posts.

Let me introduce you to (from left to right): Senora Gooseberry, Mr. Tiny Variegated Hosta, Mr. Sedum, Ms. Astilbe, Miss Coreopsis, Senor Day Lily, Miss Heuchera, Lady Peony and Mr. Other Variegated Hosta.

If you like what you see, please BECOME A FOLLOWER!

June 21, 2010

Day Trippin'

We took a day trip to Gill, Massachusetts on recommendation from the Valley Locavore. We were looking for STRAWBERRIES! She sent us to Upinngil Farm.

 Unfortunately, it was raining pretty heavily, so picking was closed. But they had so much else to offer: local flour, honey, milk (raw), cheddar and feta cheeses from their cows, homemade pumpkin and seseme seed granola, fresh herbs and hothouse tomatoes.  And look at the sweet brown face.

June 18, 2010

Farm Share Friday!

Every Friday through the fall, Holyoke Home is sharing images from our weekly farm share at Mountain View Farm in Easthampton. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what the farm has to offer.**

Two items showed up this week that I didn't get photos of, because I forgot to bring my camera to pick-up. Grrrrr. Beets made their first appearance this week! There were two varieties - the dark red variety and beautiful Chiogga beets, which are so gorgeous I am afraid to eat them. They are a lighter pink on the outside and pink and white striped on the inside.  Garlic scapes also showed up this week.  POTENT and GOOD!  I sauteed them up with some swiss chard=delish.

I went back later in the week for our u-pick items, and brought my camera this time. I mostly had the farm to myself.  In addition to dill, cilantro and sugary, crunchy snap peas, I picked more strawberries. Is there anything to be said - that hasn't already - about the pure delight in a berry that's still warm from the sun?

And now we know why the farm is called 'Mountain View'

We were asked not to pick flowers this week so they could grow in a little more. Somehow, I managed to follow directions.

June 16, 2010

Front Porch and Garden Design

This is Nancy Howard, from Nancy Howard Garden and Landscape Design.  She's sitting in my dining room, using an iphone app to determine which way is south.  Nancy responded to my request for advice about my front yard.  Nancy wants you to know that landscape architecture isn't about plants. It's about PEOPLE!

I've never worked with a landscape professional before, and I'm learning A LOT! For example, before any planting or digging, you'll usually have three meetings with your landscape architect consultant. During the first meeting, you'll talk about current conditions, what you like, what's important to you in terms of color, shapes, use, accessibility, shade etc., and what you don't like. Nancy also did a complete site assessment during her first visit.

In the second meeting, she'll come with a draft plan to get your feedback.  And in the third meeting, you'll wait with baited breath to see her final plans. More to come!

June 14, 2010

Another Bead Board Post. Sorry.

I FIN-A FREAKING-LY finished priming and painting the upstairs bathroom bead board. About three hours in, I was SO close to finishing and my energy was lower than a working mom on a Friday afternoon, so I asked Mr. Man to come into the bathroom and say something encouraging.

He came in, took a look and said,"Holy cow!  I'm going to have to start working on my part of the project soon."


June 11, 2010

Farm Share Friday - Week 1

** Every Friday from now through the fall, Holyoke Home is sharing images from our weekly farm pick up at Mountain View Farms. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what the farm has to offer.**

Week one - Mt. View had so many share holders eager for fresh veggies that a staff person was directing traffic in the parking lot! I've never seen that before. There was beautiful, big Bok Choy

And gorgeous greens to sautee or braise.

And enormous, lush red leaf lettuce. Prettier than a bouquet.
But the best? The strawberries are ready.

June 9, 2010

I Did Not Pose This. Seriously. He Was Just Sitting There.

We're not the only ones enjoying the back yard improvements.

June 7, 2010

Guest Post: Fancy Hardware!

Today's post comes from a Holyoke homeowner extraordinaire. She makes Holyoke a better place to live and work through her creativity and dedication (she also makes AMAZING handmade shoes and bags.) She helps organize Bring Your Own Restaurant and is in the process of renovating her second Holyoke home. Welcome Daphne! Daphne writes:

"A few years ago, we bought a house exactly one block away from our first Holyoke renovation project. We bought this house for a variety of reasons, the first being that it was incredibly cheap. The second reason: it was an eyesore that we had to look at every day. Bad gray-wash old paint job, couch permanently parked in the front yard, interior a sea of cheap 1970s wood paneling. Most people would probably steer clear of such a house, but we were up for the challenge.

We focused on the positives--tin ceilings in most rooms, lots of windows to let in light, a crazy faux-turret on the roof, and oak floors hidden beneath the carpeting. We neglected to fully appreciate how much paint was encrusted on almost every surface.

Two years after buying the house I finally removed this lock from a rustic built-in cabinet and submerged it in Citristrip for a couple of days. I was amazed to find such an ornate beauty underneath it all--our house was very plainly built in 1879. Nothing fancy. Except this hardware!"

Great Job Daphne!

June 4, 2010

Farm Share Friday!

Once a week, from May to the end of October, my farm share partner and I carpool over Mt. Tom and down into Easthampton, Massachusetts.  We're headed to Mountain View Farm to pick up our weekly farm share.  From the crunchy, almost sweet baby radishes in May, to the earthy leeks in October, the farm provides colorful, organic, fresh vegetables and farm-y eye candy. In addition to its regular share, Mountain View also offers a '100 Pound Winter Share' (Hint: GET A WINTER FARM SHARE.)

Every Friday from now through the fall, I will share images from our weekly farm pick up. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what the farm has to offer.  Next week? FIRST SHARE WEEK!

June 2, 2010

Tongue And Groovy

I finally found the time to prime the bead board I've been refinishing in the upstairs bathroom. So far, I:

1. Removed giant vinyl panels
2. Spent way too much time removing vinyl panel adhesive
3. Sanded bead board to prep surface for primer and to remove any last bits of adhesive
4. Vacuumed bead board
5. Used a tack cloth to prepare surface to receive primer
6. Applied primer

I'm using Kilz acrylic base primer because it's always worked well for me on other projects.  I'm so tired of this bead board, and I STILL have to rough up the other 1/2 of the bathroom (which wasn't under vinyl panels) and prime it too.  Sigh.  And THEN, I have to caulk any holes and actually paint the damn stuff.  Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.