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.

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.

Hoya, Queen

Someone told me once that you can tell the difference between a Hoya Krimson Queen (left) and a Hoya Krimson Princess (right) because the Queen wears her crown on her head (white on the outside of the green) and the Princess wears a white gown (white on the inside of the leaf) down the middle.

⁣Hoyas have been fun to collect and watch. Their new leaves are pinkish, which turn to white, which then add some green and then the final leaf of green with white markings.

⁣These queens and princesses are celebrating the notorious one today. I am saddened by the news of Justice Ginsberg’s passing but I am also inspired by her life. All women should be proud and encouraged and challenged to be ever learning and evolving while holding tightly to compassion and empathy for all.

THE GREEN WITCH by Arin Murphy Hiscock

To be honest, I’ve put off posting about this book wanting to make sure it wasn’t going to be too offensive to anyone – or to myself. I wanted to get far enough into the book to see if it was just too ‘woo-woo’.

⁣Thankfully, it is what I hoped it would be – a celebration of living in partnership with our environment.

There is a craving – similar to pregnancy cravings – that will strike me and I’ll say to Scott, ‘I’ve got to get out in nature.’ When I have been isolated too much, or too busy trying to meet deadlines or too ANYTHING, my therapy is to place myself into nature. Tree bathing. Grounding. Whatever you want to call it, there is a recalibration that happens when I can breath in clean air and notice the magnitude of the natural world around me.

Of course, that’s not always an option, so I try to work with scents and homegrown elements for natural healing and mood enhancement and many many many times, for antioxidants and anti-inflammatory treatments. Whether it’s the sourced food we eat or the natural cleaner made with rosemary from our backyard, I truly believe the further we get from nature, the further we are from the environment in which we were created to live.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am neither vegan nor a purist, but we can all attempt to make changes in some areas of our lives.

THE GREEN WITCH includes ways in which we can use the natural things around us whether it be wood for cabinetry or gardenias for tranquility. There are recipes for Digestive Tea or a homemade balm for colds and headaches. It even includes celebrations you can have for each of the season changes. (Happy Autumnal Equinox on the 22nd!)

As far out there as it seems, it is all really quite logical and simple. I love combining things together for scrubs or oils or to clean my kitchen counters. It makes me feel part gypsy (don’t we all want that??) and part Native American – working with the seasons and the fruit of the land. Farmers determined our school year based on harvest time. Many churches follow the liturgical cycles that correspond with the seasons. There are ways that you participate in these cycles without even realizing it.

After bashing my leg a few days ago (in a super dumb way), tonight is all about grilled salmon with ginger and spinach – natural ways to reduce swelling. Lemon verbena, lavender and grapefruit are my favorite essential oil combinations to slow my mind and my breath. And of course, caring for houseplants and learning from their rhythm and cycles.

Our environment (of which I believe was created for us by God as a gift) is worth preserving. Living within. And voting for.

Cebu Blue

Please don’t tell the others, but this Cebu Blue ((might be my favorite houseplant.)) I try to keep it low key, but I think the others know. The leaves on a Cebu are so magically blueish silveryish. I just love it!

I bought this one from a local seller as a little rooted baby and she’s grown so much this summer.

Put it on your plant wish list: Cebu Blue Pothos. You won’t be sorry!

Dried but not hung.

I’m finishing up my first season as a hydrangea grower. They have been so much fun to nurture and learn about and watch their rhythms. I can’t wait to see what grows from their stalks next year! I’ve tried to amend the soil to be more acidic (coffee grounds and fertilizer) for the blue blooms.

⁣But for now, I’m enjoying the warmth their dried flowers bring as our home transitions into more autumnal scenes.

Happy Hydrangea

Last week I bought my first hydrangea (Nikko Blue).

This week I bought all new sheets and rearranged a bedroom just because of the amazing blooms.

I’m doomed. Let the hydrangea addiction begin!

I even hung one to experiment with drying them…

There are worse addictions, right??? (Famous last words!) 

Do you grow hydrangea? If so, what kind and what zone are you located in? I need to learn!

hydrangea

Hydrangea is such a funny word. But man oh man, do they have gorgeous blooms.

I am a houseplant person. Period. I am not a gardener. So it’s with a great deal of fear that I present to you my Nikko Blue hydrangea. I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing, but I hope we can survive together. I even…ugh… joined a group. A hydrangea Facebook group.

I am now a person who joins a specific flower’s Facebook group.

My shade garden keeps getting bigger and bigger this year. And now I’m going to foolishly(??) (…yet to be seen…) try to grow hydrangea in pots on my front porch. (I asked my hydrangea group and they said it’s okay.)

I put the pots on rollers so I can manipulate their sun intake. California sun is brutal!

I love their color and hope I can maintain it. We mixed coffee grounds into the dirt for an extra boost of acidity.

The petals are so beautifully intricate. What a fantastic plant. I see why people work so hard to bring them back every year.

Our front porch now includes sansevieria, hostas, various calatheas, kangaroo paw fern, Japanese Aralia, Chinese evergreen, aloe vera, a white azalea bush, a majesty palm and a Japanese maple tree.

And now some blue hydrangeas.

Surely I’m done adding things now…

Any hydrangea owners out there who can help a girl out with some advice??

Patio, Pups and Projects

Our neighbor had an intrusive tree removed last year that made a lot of sense for her. Cleared up her backyard nicely. But this spring I’m noticing how MUCH more sun we are getting on our back patio (and we got a lot to begin with.) The hardest adjustment to California from the Midwest has been the unbelievable LEVEL of sun rays. It gets very hot very quickly when in the sun. 

So, we decided to rearrange a few things and get a table umbrella to shield a little bit of the intensity.

I seem to prefer neutrals and nature colors on the inside, so it feels like I’ve gone off the rails on color in the backyard this year. -ha. And it all started with a rug.

I love our ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ sun we lovingly bought a few years ago in honor of Charles Osgood’s retirement. (Has it been as good since he left?) I also have enjoyed the ombre growth of this ivy up our fence (old as it is.) We tried to direct the ivy up the fence last summer and some of it has decided to cooperate. Hopefully more of the ivy on the ground will take notice and decide to do a little scaling themselves this year.

I very much like the color blue. However, I rarely use it. I’m not sure why but I’ve never gravitated toward it in my own home – while appreciating it in others’ homes. Something crazy struck me, however, and I fell instantly for this outdoor rug. Everything else grew from that.

Last year we severely trimmed back the oleander bushes. The back of our yard still has plenty (and are currently heavily sagging because the pink blooms are getting ready to break open.) The white bushes on the side of the patio have a sturdy ‘trunk’ so we trimmed them to look more like trees than bushes. And they are blooming beautifully.

Salmon, navy, teal and touches of purple are in the rug so the plants and pillows followed suit. 

(Please tell the person who jimmy-rigged this ‘hanging’ pot to cut off the janky strings and try to make it more presentable.) (aka: it was me.)

I think this sassy parrot is my favorite part of the backyard update. How can you not feel energized by her while sipping your morning chai?

By the way, reader, we are firmly ignoring the nasturiums that I repotted and now they’re acting dead. They’ll come back – they just can’t help themselves.

Is the parrot pillow my favorite thing or is this stunning variegated Japanese aralia? It’s a close call.

Two important ‘life discoveries’ I’ve made (…or recently admitted to…) this spring have been

  • I have done it, lived it, studied it, and now – I’m done with succulents. They are too temperamental. Every time you touch one to deadhead it, the other leaves get knocked off so planting them is a huge pain (think: the delicate Operation game of our youth.) Even though I still have a ton – we will eventually part ways. Melanie – I wish you were here to give them all to. They need youth and patience and I’m sorely lacking on both accounts.
  • And secondly, I am not a flower person either. I have been spoiled by houseplants. They’re strong and sturdy and I at least know how to read them better than flowers in the California sun. Many lessons learned.

It’s all about self-actualization, people. Growth and improvements, right?

Tilly and her old man eyebrows and soul patch. As long as she has a leaf or a dead plant, she’s in high heaven!

The thing about oleander flowers is that they bloom all summer long. Well into fall, actually. They last a long time when you cut them and bring them indoors and their foliage is a staple for flower arrangements. You literally have to throw them away before they die. -ha. 

I love wonky pottery. I found this one years ago at an antique mall and it called to me. This little blue vase (that needs more water, I see) houses our once and done gardenia flowers. What a powerful scent! I love them so much!!

Haddie. Always around. Always on-point and watching all the activity but wanting to play it cool like she doesn’t care. She teases Tilly and loves the attention Tilly gives her. But admitting love is just not in her character. 

If you follow me on Facebook you know we tried to create an area of the sideyard for Tilly to go to the bathroom. But after training her to go outside ANYWHERE, it’s been difficult to condense her to just one spot now. So we are going to try a fence with a gate – cordoning off the patio area as separate from her play and go area. California backyards are small and we were lucky to get a little spot of yard in the back and now we don’t want to give it all over to a new puppy. 

Concessions and compromises! 

On the other side of the fence is our cactus garden. I am AAAAMAAAAAZED at how quickly the cacti have grown over the winter. We started with nothing and they have practically taken over the back of our house. I love the desert vibe they give out and have loved watching a completely new kind of plant grow.

Scott’s BBQ grill is kept going year-round. As much as possible we cook out there!

Dad gave me some castor bean seeds last year that have grown ominously on the corner of our house. They’re about ready to take over our blue agave (Agave Maria)!

I once read that California was never meant to have inhabitants because there are so many natural elements to overcome. It’s interesting how wildlife and humans have adapted to the unique environment of the Pacific coast.

Just like a kid, we do our best to wear her down every evening. She looks happy and satisfied, don’t you think??

What I would normally consider Spring in the Midwest is ending here in northern CA. We are staring summer in the face next week – many 100 degree days scheduled. But this week has been mild and enjoyable. I am learning that California doesn’t believe in easing anyone into a new situation – it just drops it hot and smoldering in your lap. 

We’ll be very happy with our new umbrella shade. 

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!!!

REFORESTING FAITH by Matthew Sleeth, MD

A friend on Instagram mentioned this book recently and it seemed to speak to many of my core beliefs. We were created to live within our natural surroundings but as a result of societal advancements, we have walled ourselves away from our native home.

REFORESTING FAITH speaks about the importance of trees within the Christian faith. On the first page of Genesis a tree is mentioned. Also in the first Psalm, on the first page of the New Testament as well as the last page of Revelation – and many places along the way. Every major biblical or theological event has a tree marking the spot.

We were given an important responsibility: to care for God’s creation. And we haven’t been doing a very good job at it. This book walks the reader through the Bible, highlighting the significant places where God mentions or includes trees in His teachings and miracles.

Because we were created to be in communion with nature, we are more able to clear our minds and feel more connected with ourselves and others when we’ve spent time breathing in the oxygen the trees so generously supply for us.

Too often we have a short-term mindset. Our 70 years of existence is nothing compared to the 5,000 years of an ancient tree.

Proverbs tells us that a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.

Christians are instructed to make this earth look more like heaven.
Plant trees, care for trees, and preserve old forests.

REVIEW:

I enjoyed the way Sleeth highlights the areas where God used trees to tell stories and to mark significant occasions. It will always stand out to me now when I read about a tree in the Bible. My initial response to the book, however, was that Sleeth seemed to ‘dummy down’ his explanations about the bible as well as the environment. Then again, I don’t know who he intended his target audience to be. Perhaps he was being sensitive to people who don’t believe in the Bible but want to live a better life in connection with the environment and its preservation.

Many years ago I read the theory that Christians are so concentrated on the next life that they don’t see the need to care for this ‘temporary home’ – Earth. This shames me as a Christian. We were given a beautiful, magnificent gift from our Creator and we’re trashing it like teenagers throwing a raucous party while their parents are out of town. REFORESTING FAITH reminded me of that theory. Have Christians resisted being actively involved in environmental issues for fear of appearing too pagan? This is at such odds with what God weaved together for our enjoyment.

I was encouraged to recommit to being aware and vigilant of the way that I live and how it elevates or depletes the gift of Creation. It also reinforced my desire to stand barefoot in the grass and walk leisurely through a canopy of trees. Not only do these two activities help calm and center my emotional well-being, but there is a positive and physical reaction as well as I, the created, am connected with my Creator.

TREE PICTURES photographed on trips to:
Big Trees State Park, California
University of California Berkeley
Lake Tahoe, California
Yosemite National Park, California