Girl, don’t do it…

It’s not worth it.

I’m not gonna do it, I was just thinking about it. I’m not gonna do it.

I did it.

The recipe for Southern Living’s Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake. Holy nutmeg! The perfect marriage of spice cake and pumpkin bread.

I am NOT one of those people. I don’t like rushing seasons or holidays because I inevitably get bored with them too soon. I want to put things out at an appropriate time so I can enjoy them all season long.

But the spices in this cake… pure pumpkin heaven! I had to. Just this once. I’ll now go back to summer and 100+ days and flip flops and tank tops.

But for one little Saturday in August, I simply HAD to have a little bite of Fall.

Plus!, this recipe calls for candied pecans to be sprinkled on top but I used regular pecans so basically, it’s diet food.

Don’t make this recipe too soon, (don’t do it, girl) but put it on your Fall Bucket List. It’s one of the best bundt cakes I’ve ever had (no hyperbole needed.)

Looking forward to sweaters and hot cider and football games. But not yet. There’s a little more sand-between-the-toes days to come.

enjoy!

Midtown Farmers Market

We look forward to Saturday every week. The Midtown Farmers Market is the perfect size. It’s not an overwhelming market, so you can slow down and see it all. We are also developing our ‘favorites’ list of vendors we must stop and see what they have new for the week. For Scott, it’s the vendor who sells the freshest Brussels sprouts. He heads there first thing. For me, it’s a mixture of vendors: florals, boho, and plants. (Sidenote: I’d love to sell my propagated plants there someday. And some plant merch. Someday, someday, someday.)

Golden Hour Designs has such cute macrame’ rainbows, earrings and stickers. Speaking of which, I am SUCH a sucker for stickers. Cabbage patch kids… Convenient store gum that came with stickers… The current sticker craze is speaking my childhood language! The owner of Golden Hour is also so engaging and always nice to chat with. I’ve started taking my bags back to her to get them refilled with something new and delicious each week.

And while the farmers market offers all kinds of organically grown produce and adorable boho accessories, it’s also a fantastic place to people watch! I mean – look at this fantastic dad! I think if I threw three balls at him, he’d be able to juggle them while doing all the rest. Superman

We haven’t taken Tilly to the market yet, but we are almost (mentally) ready. She would love it, of course. But when it comes down to it every week, we get selfish and want to stroll aimlessly without the responsibility of watching her (see: super dad above.) The dogs come in all shapes and sizes and are plenty fun to watch too. I heard that someone was walking around with a plastic-domed backpack this week so their cat could also enjoy the people. -ha!

Each week we try something new. The bakery booth was filled with delectable things. Scott picked a cinnamon roll twist that I might have taken a few bites of.

We haven’t purchased anything from this jam booth yet, but their signage is straight up awesome. Love the creative simplicity of it.

Umm. A schoolbus converted into a vintage clothing shop?? Be still my heart. And again, watching the uber cool people coming in and out of it is worth pulling up a seat and taking notes. (Oh, and here’s another sidenote: skoolies. I’m thinking retirement??!)

A few weeks ago we purchased this market bag. It’s hard outer shell is perfect for tossing our veggies and flowers and goodies inside while we browse around. This particular booth features fair trade baskets from West Africa. It’s a very small way to help a family with healthcare and school supplies through each purchase.

And come on… how cute do flowers and carrot tops look, peeking out of the top??!

Live musicians, avocado trucks, seafood booths and freshly bagged chai leaves. The diversity and community-feeling that farmers markets bring to my soul is refreshing and renewing. Thank you, Sacramento, for bringing us all together to browse the streets, supplement our own garden and plan our weekly meals.

THE PERSONAL LIBRARIAN + Book of the Month

I was very honored that Book of the Month posted one of my pictures today on their social media. It was a photo of this fantastic book about J.P. Morgan’s assistant, Belle da Costa Greene, who helped build the J. Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City in the early 1900’s.

THE PERSONAL LIBRARIAN is a celebration of art and ancient book manuscripts and Gutenberg bibles. I actually stopped midway through the book to re-watch The Monuments Men, which took place during a different time period but always gives me the same debt of gratitude for those who have gone to great lengths to preserve and uphold the honor in art.

You will stop and Google dates and names and it will spark an even deeper appreciation of the importance of the fine arts. This book will certainly be one of my top favorite books this year. Authors, Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, went to great lengths to research this novel. Each author’s note in the back of the book were fascinating to read in order to see how they went about collecting Belle’s story as well as information about the beginnings and early days of the library.

Extraordinary. Extravagant. Empowering. Thought-provoking. This would make an excellent book club read and discussion. I highly recommend this book about a section of our history you may not know much about. I will be thinking about it for a very long time.

Thank you, Book of the Month, for using my picture but mostly for bringing to the forefront a life story that needed to be told.

Sidenote: I have been a BOTM member for five years and have very fond memories of the catalogs that used to come in the mail to my parents each month. I read the book descriptions in awe and thought that BOTM must be the most grown up thing you could possibly do. What a dream to have books sent to you in the mail, I imagined! I’m so glad I get to enjoy them now. Each month is a new adventure that begins with an exciting blue box waiting for me at my front door.

Another sidenote: the decadently delicious waffles were a new recipe that my DEAR husband was trying out. It very quickly went into the MUST MAKE AGAIN section of our recipe file: whole wheat waffles with bananas and walnuts baked inside. (They’re practically health food.)

Sutherland’s Sunday Summary (except on a Tuesday)

Spring in Northern California…wow. From February to the end of May is northern California’s show-off time. It’s a gorgeously long season of magnificent blooms and growth. After a few months of rain, everything catapults to life.

This was just a walk around the block…

Clearly this house has mastered the art of rose bushes. The whole front yard is lined in various roses. As delicate as a rose bouquet is, a rose bush loves the heat and drought and sandy soil of California!

Isn’t the above tree so cool? I’d love to know its story.

The tree below is a crepe myrtle. The bark is SO smooth. I love these trees even when they’re not blooming.

And hey… why not grow artichokes in your front yard! Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.

It’s hard to give an update on our lives without (endlessly) talking about our garden. After a few seasons of trial and error, we’ve hit on some successes.

As a lifelong Midwesterner, I am used to the growing season being, basically, June to September. But here, you need to plant things MUCH earlier. We (…and by we I mean Scott…) had everything planted by March. The young plants and seeds grew for a couple of months to get good and established and now we’ve covered the raised garden beds with a breezy black shade tarp to protect them from the brutal afternoon sun.

We are at the take-the-peas-and-collard-greens-to-work stage. We’re taking stuff to neighbors because we can’t keep up.

And now our first tomato has appeared. Scott ROCKED tomato-growing last year so I’m curious to see how they do in a different spot. So far they are TALL and filling up with blooms. Salsa is just around the corner. We…again, Scott… blanched a bunch last year and froze it for sauces.

How much stir fry is too much stir fry?? We haven’t reached our limit yet. Pork one night, chicken another. So yummy! And such a sense of pride that it was grown right in our backyard.

There isn’t much healthier food than collard greens. So many nutrients! (Which are only slightly hindered by the bacon and broth mixture.) I read an important statement about cooking collard greens: ‘There is no such thing as cooking collard greens too long.’ They simmer on our stove all day and are a home-run every time.

I’ve been so happy with my lavender experiment this year. Seeing all the bees buzzing around makes me doubly delighted. Tilly tries to catch the bees while they’re working. She’s going to get a muzzle full someday.

Our independent, graying old six-year-old cat, Haddie, is a real trooper with overly playful Tilly. But sometimes, a girl just has to take a break. Her favorite spot is against this graying old fence.

Tilly firmly believes she is a toy poodle lapdog. I wonder if toy poodle lapdogs have to keep their back legs on the ground for stability??

Random things:

One of our neighbors gave out May Day baskets, which was just so cute. I haven’t met them yet but I have to wonder if they’ve seen me working in the yard and made the decision to get a large print word search. -ha! (Speaking of old and graying!)

The news about Bill and Melinda Gates was upsetting. They’ve appeared to be such a successful couple who work together and feed off each others’ ideas. I read Melinda’s memoir last year which always makes me feel invested in the author’s life. They’ve done so much good in the world, I hope that can continue.

Speaking of doing good, I am still enjoying everything put out by The Bitter Southerner. They highlight the new south. The progressive stories happening in our beautiful southern states. Better South | Better World

Scott gave me a beautiful flower arrangement and card for Mother’s Day. I particularly liked his character explanations.

A long zoom call with my daughter, Hannah…

…a long phone call with my son, Baird (we never quite get them under 3 hours) -ha! He even had the good sense to marry the world’s greatest daughter-in-law (who managed to be the first to send me a Mother’s Day text.)

They made motherhood easy for me. Their continued support and love is invaluable to me. They’re good people.

I’ve already had to start manipulating the shades… open in the morning for the plants and then closed in the afternoon to ward off the blazing sun. We are taking a trip to Kansas City in early June. It will be nice to be back in temperate heat for a little while.

I grew this ruffled philodendron selloum from a single leaf cutting a couple of years ago. We brought it to California with us and, well, she likes the weather! She’s huge!

Speaking of temperature (and then I promise I’ll close this long post), I am crocheting a Temperature Blanket. I’m not sure why I decided a king-sized pattern was the right way to go, but here we are.

While the colors aren’t usually my thing, I am enjoying the challenge of it. Each row represents the high temperature that day. These colors (starting on January 1, 2021) represent the 50s, 60s and 70s. I’m very ready to move on to the next group of colors (80s, 90s and above 100) but I’m not ready to experience them in real life. There’s nothing like a king size blanket of yarn to work on in 99-degree temperature!

My head needs to be checked…

Okay. I promise these weekly summaries won’t be this long. But it’s been a bit so I thought I’d catch up on all the (very) random things going on.

Maybe the biggest news is that the fitting rooms in area stores have opened up again. Woohoo!! It’s been a long year of buying stuff, taking it home to try on, then returning what doesn’t work. God bless the customer service industry.

Be safe! And welcome to a slightly less-restrictive summer.

commonality

In a world of disconnection, it has felt even more comforting to gather with people all over the world as we circle the same scripture on the same day. That is the beauty of the liturgy, for me. Similar thoughts are being mulled over. Time of year is being considered. The great joining together happens at different times throughout the day and probably over different types of coffee or chai or a whiskey sour. We enter God’s presence with our burlap bags of angsty needs, we read through our ancient common prayer, and then leave that space, emboldened to help those less fortunate than ourselves. I find a great sense of connection with the world in those moments. Even in the solitude of my home.

SING, UNBURIED, SING

This family drama was true southern prose full of spirits and stories and spells. Sin and family and forgiveness. No one dies quite like a southerner, taking their specific cooking and unique lineage, leaving us our heritage and pockets full of stories to embellish for many generations to come.

“…. sorrow is food, swallowed too quickly, caught in the throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe.”

This was a book with a strong second half. I appreciated the lyrical writing and ghostly references only a southerner could fully appreciate.

fines are no longer fine

I started a new jigsaw puzzle and am in that never-mind-it’s-too-hard-put-it-all-back-in-the-box stage. It’s a puzzle of classic paperback book covers.

USA Today published an article recently about library fines and how much they impact those who can least afford the fines or the punishment of no longer being able to check out books. Library fines are an insignificant amount of a library’s annual budget. In San Francisco, for example, they collected $300,000 in fines for a $138 million dollar budget. As a result, they did away with the fine system. 160 other libraries have since opted out.

In an increasingly volatile world, libraries offer so much more than books. Whether it’s free WiFi or resume help, patrons turn to the library as a source of information on many levels. As well as a familiar place of community.

“Sometimes going back to an old book is like going back to an old friend.”

lemons as neighbors

We certainly know we’re no longer in the midwest when we come home to a bag of fresh lemons on our front porch. Our neighbors across the street share their bounty with us. It’s been such a good way to get to know them.

And their taste far outweighs grocery store produce, for sure!

Thank you for your bounty, California