Thursday, September 18, 2014

We're Off to Indianapolis

We're taking a few days off and flying to Indianapolis, Indiana.

My dear friend from many years ago, Cindy, and her daughter Gretchen are hosting me for a long weekend.  I expect we will have a few drinks and catch up.  You will remember that Cindy came to Crest Avenue for a visit in the spring.  We spent her time here working in the yard and had way too much fun.  Now, it is my turn to travel.  I have an early morning flight tomorrow and will be back in town late on Monday.  So have a great weekend everyone and I'll have lots of pictures to post next week!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cards Used to Keep Myself Organized.

I have long been a maker of lists.  Since I was a young child I have made lists.  Lists for everything. I have used many different types of lists over the years, but I always come back to the tried and true index card style of list making.  I particularly like the 3 inch by 5 inch index cards. I find they have enough space in which to put down my ideas or to make a shopping list or to keep track of project work. They fit perfectly in my shirt pocket or the back pocket of a pair of jeans.

The only problem I have is that they will not make it through the fuser in a laser printer.  They are just too small for the mechanics of the printer.  The 4 inch by 6 inch cards will make it through, but not the 3 inch by 5 inch cards.  So, over the weekend, I decided to make my own 3 inch by 5 inch cards using the "text box" feature in Microsoft Word, and a sheet of white card stock.  The end result was perfect.

After several attempts, I settled on the design above.  This is all done with text boxes and utilizing Word Art for the vertical description headings on each card.  I know it is all very old school of me, but I cannot get into using lists keepers on my cell phone or tablet or computer. There is something about holding these cards in your hand and actually striking through each item as it is completed that is more satisfying to me that viewing it on an electronic device.

So if you are like me and you still prefer list making the old-fashioned way, you can design your own cards like I did.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sometimes You Just Need New Cushions

Early in the season, when I was first starting to clean up from winter, I decided that we needed new seat cushions for the high table chairs on the patio.  This table and two-chair set was at the Dewey Street property but is now at Crest Avenue.

We found that it worked better on the patio at Crest Avenue than on the small deck at Dewey Street. So we brought it down and we gave it a good wash.

The chair and table are made of aluminum and then coated with a powder-coated flat finish.  I decided to go with new seat cushions of a solid color.

I prefer the look of the solid color green over stripes or floral prints.  I find that the solid colors do no compete with all the beautiful flora in the garden.  Rather, the solid colors accent all of the colors and textures in the garden.  This is a relaxing and cozy place to have a glass of wine and a grape and cheese board with a friend or by yourself.  You could also serve a relaxing and romantic candlelit dinner for two.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's Time to Start Thinking About Halloween!

It will be here before you know it.  Six weeks from this coming Friday and the ghouls and goblins will be making their way through the cool night air and onto your doorstep.  I enjoy Halloween.  I did as a child and I do as an adult.  Everybody likes to be scared.  That's why we go to scary movies. That's why we ride insane roller coasters at amusement parks.  We enjoy the adrenaline rush of being scared.

We will be devoting a good deal of time to the holiday over the next several weeks and hopefully sharing some ideas that you will find of interest.

Today I want to share with you a find that I made last week in the form of fun soap dispensers.

First, Mr. Black Cat.

A scary green skull.

Ohhhhhhh Noooooo!  He sort of looks like The Screamer.

And they all have their very own scent,  Licorice Bits, Spooky Delight and Bone Chiller.  These are fun for kids and adults too.  If you are having a Halloween party this year, how much fun it would be to set these hand soap dispensers out at all your sinks.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Beautiful Friday Morning Walk

Fall is almost here.  September 22 is the official first day.  We are starting to feel the change in the season.  The first half of the week was extremely hot and most humid.  As hot and humid as any day this summer.  However, yesterday morning was positively beautiful.  I find that once the heat and humidity start to dissipate, everyone takes a sigh of relief.  So it was yesterday morning as I walked to the office.  I took a few pictures that I would like to share with you.

The Watergate West end residential units in the background.  The Whitehurst freeway overpass just in front of that leading commuters to various points downtown.  Commuters below traveling under the K Street, NW overpass on their way to M Street, NW and then to various office locations.

Another beautiful shot of the sky over Georgetown.  You can catch a glimpse of the very end of the Watergate West residential building on the far left of this hot.  Many times you will see planes taking off from National airport in these shots.  I must have been filming between flights yesterday.

A little further along K Street NW approaching Georgetown proper and about to go under the Whitehurst Freedway.  Cars along the left are traveling into the city from points in Virginia - mostly South Arlington.

They put these beautiful baskets of petunias out every year in Georgetown and they do a superb job of maintaining them through the hot and oppressive summer.

And a shot below.  Just extraordinary.

And finally, a gorgeous hedge along this walk under the Whitehurst Freeway.

And so was my Friday morning.  I hope yours was a good one too!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

More Cactus Talk

We are going to follow-up our post from Wednesday with a little more cactus talk.

Steven traveled to Arizona recently for business and on his return I was presented with this box. Whatever could it be?

A cactus garden of course!  Knowing my love of these thorny garden beauties, he picked up this cute little trio of cacti which I was only to happy to receive.

So, ... let's see if I can name the genus of each.  Starting left to right, ... Pilosocereus pachycladus, Opuntia cactus, and Echinocactus grusonii, or Golden Barrel cactus.  It took a while to look all of that up because, believe me, I do not hold that knowledge in my head.

The kit came with this bag of presumably some description of potting soil suitable for cactus.

Here is the little glazed pot, some decorative pebbles to be spread on top of the soil once the cactus are planted, and an Arizona sign.

So, into the dish with the soil.

Then a little time positioning the cacti.  Be careful.  They are small but those thorns are prickly.

Finally happy with just the right placement.

And then we added the Arizona sign.  I don't know if the Arizona sign will remain but for now, it's there.

We added a little water and found a nice sunny spot for them.  I'm looking forward to caring for these and watching them mature.  So concludes our cactus talk, ... for now!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finally A Scoop That Works

Sometimes the simplest of things can help bring ease to our lives.  Such is the case with this new scoop I found over the weekend.  How many of us have struggled with these old fashioned scoops over the years.

I'm not knocking this swivel lever scoops.  I'm just saying that I do not always have good luck with them releasing the food like I want.  I will still keep the swivel lever scoop because there will be times when I'm certain it will be needed.  But this new hinged scoop is nice to have as well.

So here we are.  Our new scoop from Pro Freshionals.  I thought that was an interesting way to market this.  The whole contraption opens to release the food.  I was curious as to whether or not this would be better than the swivel style.

The sales pitch on the package couldn't be simpler.

So it was time to make lunch.  I filled the bottom of the glass Snapware container with salad greens. (We've got to talk more about these glass Snapware containers in the future; they are MARVELOUS.)

Squeezed the handles together and took a nice large scoop of chicken salad and placed it on top of the salad greens.

And there you have it.  It released with the greatest of ease.  No squeezing the trigger over and over to release it.  You just release your grip on the handles and, voila!!  I like it.  It is a good find and an affordable find.  That's what we endeavor to do here at WTCA.  We like to find good quality, good functioning items that are affordable so that we can all have well performing kitchens.  Not just the cooks on television.

Cactus Maintenance

I am a huge fan of all kind of cacti, sometimes called Succulents.  I find them intriguing.  They are relatively easy to grow.  Some are slow growers, others a little faster.  But they are all beautiful and majestic.

A quick lesson in cacti and succulents.  “What is the difference between a cactus and a succulent?” Cacti are native to North and South America.  Succulents grow everywhere. There is a difference in the way that the thorns of the plant are attached. Cacti thorns emerge from a pad. Succulent thorns are an extension of the body of the plant.  Most succulents can only tolerate temperatures down to around 50`F, but there are some cacti that can handle temperatures down into the 40’s.  Just remember if you decide to grow cacti or succulents that they are plants.  They have similar needs to other plants: water, food, air and light. Cacti and succulents are, of course, adapted to fairly extreme conditions but they cannot thrive, no matter where they are grown, without these elements.

No cacti or succulent grow in a true desert.  Most grow in what is usually described as semi-desert, i.e., there is rainfall for at least some number of months in the year. The soil in these places are usually relatively poor in humus, but are often rich in mineral nutrients.  Many cacti and succulents can grow in wetter areas than their natural habitat.  Cacti and succulents are adapted to absorb and store water from the rainfall so that the plants can survive throughout the dry season.

I have a large Euphorbia cactus that I bought several years ago that has grown by leaps and bounds.  I am not certain where I got this plant.  I would venture to say at Lowe's since I do a lot of shopping in their garden and houseplant section.  In the beginning it fit perfectly in this metal pot.  But over the years it has outgrown the pot.  Plus the bottom rusted and fell out of this container.  So it was time for a re-do.

I found this wonderful clay pot in the shed.  This has held many different plants over the years.  I cleaned out the potting soil and left just a small bit covering the pea gravel at the bottom.

Then we added a bag of this Cactus, Palm and Citrus Potting Mix.

I thought it would be difficult to remove the cactus from the metal container since it had been in there for so long.  But it turned out to be not difficult at all.  It took very little effort for the root ball to slip right out.  I left a good amount of the existing potting soil around the roots system so as not to shock it too much in its new home.

We filled the pot halfway with the cactus potting mix and made a large indentation in the center in which to sit the root ball.  Ever so gingerly I lifted this massive cactus up and then down into the pot.  I held it in place while Steven poured a second bag of cactus potting mix around the root ball and then tamped it down tightly with his hand.

Euphorbia Cactus

After I felt it was well secured in the soil, I let go and it stood on its own.  We added a layer of cyprus mulch for added stability.  I will add decorative rocks to the top over this coming weekend.

I will leave this out until we have reports of frost.  It will be brought in for the late fall and winter and placed on the plant ledge in the kitchen.  More on that over the coming couple of months.  I suggest giving cactus a try in your home and garden.