Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Unexpected Guest!

Before I get to my visitor, I just wanted to share a couple of finds from the garden today.  Who knew yard long beans produced such a lovely flower?
Not me!  I'm used to the white flower the black-eyed peas produce, which is pretty too, but nothing compared to this gorgeous purple!  I can't wait until the entire vine is covered in flowers!

Purple seems to be the theme today as I also discovered my first little bunch of fairytale eggplant!  Aren't they sweet?!?  I see curry in my future!
But as cute as the eggplant are, they just can't hold a candle to this most welcome visitor in my garden...
I can't believe I actually saw this little guy!  It was less than an inch long, but I'm thinking must still be pretty lethal as it was licking some juicy, buggy morsel off of its little front legs!  More power to it!  I hope it has  many brothers and sisters living on my tomato vines and throughout the garden!  Something tells me they could do a helluva lot better than ABC Pest and Lawn AND they use totally organic methods!  ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer garden is shaping up!

I went out to water this morning and what did I find?
 Hehehehehehe!  Actually three of the 6 tomato vines have baby tomatoes and I'm SO excited!  I don't know why I was so surprised and mean look at these big, beautiful things!  The one in the back is almost as tall as me!
So far, eggplant is growing and flowering well, my burgundy okra is flowering (we found 3 little okra this morning), chives are kickin', parsley is out of control (which is good because I wanted there to be enough for me AND the caterpillars!), the regular okra is growing well and the Chinese green beans (aka yard long beans) are already to the top of their tepees, not sure what happens now!
A close up of those gorgeous beans!  Now let's hope they produce as well as they grow!  My goal is to have a freezer full of green beans by the end of summer!
Black-eyed peas are doin' their thing as well.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my little garden?  I've gotta say though, this drought isn't helping!  First we had a sucky winter that damn near killed off that season's garden, now I'm fighting with this drought.  Note to the gods of weather:  Please send some good drenching rain at least twice a week for the next 4 months.  We would greatly appreciate it if it were just rain.  No hail, heavy wind or tornadoes.  Thanks in advance!

Monday, May 23, 2011

California Adventures--Seal Beach

You know, I almost have to laugh when I refer to my time in California as an "adventure".  Other than my aunt taking me on the long drive to Malibu to visit the Getty Villa, I spent most of my time hanging out in coffee shops playing on my iPad, farting around downtown Seal Beach, meandering through the streets taking pictures and swooning over glorious gardens and funky little cottages with million dollar price tags.  Nothing terribly adventuresome there!  But then again, this WAS the first time I have been away from my kids for more than an evening by myself.  So although I wasn't windsurfing or sky-diving, I suppose the "adventure" was  finding myself again!  I think sometimes people don't realize how hard it is to have that inner dialogue when you have kids constantly interrupting that and jamming the signal!  It was an "adventure" in peace and quiet and in not having to worry about someone else's needs.  As a stay-at-home mom, I can tell you, those moments are PRICELESS!  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my kids big time and I certainly don't regret my decision to stay home with them, BUT it really was so incredibly nice to just have a few days to do what I wanted to do without worrying about who needs to go potty and who's hungry or tired or grumpy.

Welcome to Seal Beach, California!  It's a sweet, little town nestled in between Long Beach and Huntington Beach with a thriving downtown, a beautiful public beach and California's second longest wooden pier and the PERFECT place to laze around for 3 days!
"Slick" the mascot
The Seal Beach Administration Building (Blue skies and palm trees, gotta love it!)
Granted, most of the kitschy little cottages have been bought, torn down and replaced with McMansions, but there are few of the 50's, old-school cottages.  They are of course my favorites!

And although I adore the cottages, this particular beachside beauty caught my eye.  I'm trying to talk Big Daddy into springing for it, but I have this gut feeling the answer's gonna be no.  :(  And in case you were wondering, this IS one home!
Almost every house has a little garden and the stuff that grows there in that mild, salty air is incredible!  Some things I recognized like lantana and roses, but most of the stuff I had know idea what it was, but the streets were just full of color!

I mean really, I haven't seen a rose like this since I lived in Portland.
And the ice plant on the beach!
Downtown has lots to offer, funky little shops, lots of restaurants, and we can't forget the Red Car Museum!
I also adored Brisa's Old Town Garden.  If I could have, I would have bought the place out!  I haven't seen plants that green and gorgeous in years!
There were a couple of antique shops, and I just couldn't resist a picture of this.  I was thinking how cute that thing would be in my backyard with baskets full of petunias or geraniums!

And did I mention the pier?  The longest wooden pier in California?  Needless to say after walking to the end and back with the heavy ocean breezes, I was a bit winded!  So cool though!
And what is the beach without seagulls?

Isn't he a beauty?  This was a lucky shot though.  He flew off moments later!  

At the end of the day, I started walking home around sunset and turned for a last look at the beach for the evening and couldn't help but get a shot of the pier in the far distance with the beautiful, wind-blown palm trees and the moon rising... just stunning.  California was definitely a nice change of scenery!
I hope you have enjoyed my little photo journal of Seal Beach.  I will probably annoy you with another couple of California posts before it's all said and done, but what can I say, I love to travel, I love to take pictures and I love to share my adventures!  Does anyone know how I could get a job with the travel channel?

Monday, May 16, 2011

California Adventures-The Getty Villa

Up on a hillside in Malibu there is a most magnificent museum called the Getty Villa.  The Villa is modeled after a Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri, in Herculaneum which was buried by Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.  The museum is entirely dedicated to arts and antiquities from the ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan cultures.
The view from the parking lot was breathtaking!  I do miss the ocean!

The wall along the path leading to the Villa was lined with the most beautiful pink roses that smelled AMAZING!  And since I was on vacation with no kids, no hurries, and no timelines, I did truly stop and smell the roses!
 How's this for a fine welcome? 
 This is the Outer Peristyle and seriously, it was so beautiful and so peaceful all I could think of is how much I would love to just come for an hour a day to read in this garden!  Stunning.  (And please, click on the photo to get the full view, you won't regret it!)  I love the statue of the drunken satyr on the rock!

 There were two long, open corridors surrounding the peristyle with beautiful columns, inlaid floors with mosaic tile and glorious ceilings.  I couldn't keep from hearing that quote from "Jurassic Park" about how they "spared no expense"! 
Here is a view looking out toward the ocean from the steps of the Villa.
Another one of the many halls with decadent floors, paintings and ceiling detail.  They really didn't spare any expense!  And although I would not have liked being the person that laid all the mosaic tile (pic to come momentarily), I would have loved to help paint this place!  What a cool job!
Of course there was an herb garden, I mean what country estate wouldn't have a proper herb garden, not to mention the grapes.  I hear later in summer the grapes are amazing and drape over the entire garden.
Oh yes, in addition to all of the amazing gardens and architecture, there was art!  Fancy that in a museum!  There were every day items such as pottery, oil and perfume jars, weaponry and armor and statues, amazing statues like Venus.
And the busts of emperors like Augustus.
One of my favorite pieces was called "The Victorious Youth" which according to their information is one of the few Greek bronzes that have actually survived.  You will have to forgive the crappy quality of the photo, as this room was small, had strange lighting, flash photography was obviously not permitted and I was tripod-less!  But the piece was so amazing that I still had to share.  They found it in a shipwreck!
There were funerary pieces, I particularly liked this lion!
This coffin was amazingly intricate. 
Now just look at the detail on the ceiling!  Little animals and birds, flowers and butterflies, so beautiful!  (You'll probably have to click on the photo to see it more clearly.)
 And remember the mosaic tile I was talking about?  Here is the floor in the atrium.  Each piece was maybe a half inch wide! 
Once you passed through the atrium you went into the Inner Peristyle.  The columns were so pretty, not to mention the wonderful tiles on the roof!

They had an amphitheater where, in summertime, they have classical drama performances.  Wish I could have experienced that!
Speaking of mosaic tile again, the fountain in the East Garden was incredible!  So colorful and detailed!
And last but not least, one of the last things I saw... the view from the upstairs balcony looking out over the Outer Peristyle.  Please could I just live here for a week?  I even promise not to swim in the pool!
I would like to thank my auntie for taking the day off and fighting the traffic on the 405 so I could see this place!  It was lovely!   And although I enjoyed not having to call after the kids and worry about potty breaks and snack time, I did wish that my Monkey Man could have been there.  He is a big fan of the Greeks, Romans and Etruscans.  But most of all, I would HIGHLY recommend that if you are ever in the Los Angeles area, you really should take the time to see this place.  The entrance is free, but an advance, timed parking ticket is required (I think it runs around $15).  SO worth the effort though!  I hope you enjoyed my little photo tour of the museum and although I posted quite a bit, it is truly just a taste of what was there!  Oh, and the restaurant was nice, affordable and made the BEST peasant bread ever!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Little Stinkers

My aunt has interesting neighbors.  They have serious attitude, they are terrible troublemakers and worst of all... they STINK!  But you can't hold a grudge because they are just cute to boot!

The culprits...

Minding their manners and trying very hard to look sweet...

Realizing the jig is up and making a dash for it!

Yes, I was outside with them and no, I didn't get sprayed!  ;)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Very Tweet Little Birdhouses!

This year we have had oodles of birds around our property.  The Monkey Man spends many of his mornings out front with his field guide and trying to identify them all.  He is especially fond of the blue jays that seem to be considering making the nest in the ligustrum bush their home!  As it turns out, last weekend the folks gave both kids little birdhouses to hang in the maple tree.  These things are so cute!  They are obviously meant for smaller birds, so maybe we'll get some finches or sparrows that like them.  Whether they get occupied or not, they are just super sweet hanging in the tree!  They are made from all recycled materials and are 100% recyclable themselves, which is always a good thing.  If you think they're cute, they are by a company called "Tweet Tweet Home"!