a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

New ideas for old things

Fred and I had our “Garden Art and Plant Sale” last weekend. It went very well! Along with a lot of garden plants, all of his art sold except one little dragonfly stake and he’s happily making more. I had a pretty good day, too. My “upcycled” planters were a big hit and I just finished a few more.

planter coke tinI found a couple of “vintage-look” Coke tins (maybe used for cookies or candy?) and knew they’d be adorable as planters — especially as they weather and age. I had to drill a few drain holes in the bottom but that was about all these needed besides a good cleaning.

planter flour sifterA vintage flour sifter seems perfect for this. With the bottom meshed it’s already got “built-in” drainage! I used Portulaca (one of my most favorite flowers) because it does very well if it gets a little dry between waterings, flowers non-stop, and needs little to no care (you see why I like it?).

planter popcornI have no idea how old this piece is – a ceramic popcorn holder – but it makes a super cute planter! There were no drain holes so I used about 3″ of florist moss at the bottom in case there’s an overflow of water.

planter red shoesI just love these little Mary Janes. The insides aren’t in the greatest shape (probably why they were up for grabs) but they have the cutest little fabric flowers on the strap and the color is a nice ruby-red (perhaps Dorothy’s when she was younger?). Don’t tell Fred but I’m kind of hoping these don’t sell and I’ll have to keep them…

 planter lampThis is the one I like the best, so far. I saw this ugly, broken table lamp and knew it’d make a delightful planter. After the wiring was out, I sanded off the old black, chippy paint and re-finished it to look like the old red enamel (barn red with white “spots”), added a weight so it won’t tip over – and I love the way it came out.

I consider these just another option in the upcycling process — that just happens to incorporate my love of gardening.


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One Pot Thai Green Curry

Last week I went to lunch with two of my most favorite people. We went to one of the Thai restaurants in town and I tried something I’d never had before; green curry. I can see why they call this “Thailand’s comfort food.” 

Yesterday I was still thinking about it (yeah, it was that good) so I started poking around some online recipe sites to see what all went into this and how difficult it would be for me to make at home. Most of the recipes I found had 12 zillion steps and required too many dishes to wash. So, I knew I’d have to adapt something to suit my needs (ie: easy cook/easy clean) — and still taste great, of course. I didn’t make my own green curry paste so it may not be totally “authentic,” but there were no leftovers, which goes down as a “win” in my book.

green curryOne Pot Thai Green Curry Vegetables


  • 1 – 13.5 ounce can Light Coconut Milk* (if you use regular, it might be very thick and require more stock).
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 1-1/4 Tbs. Tamari (I use this in place of soy because it’s gluten-free)
  • Lime Juice (use fresh if you have it. I used a squirt of refrigerated juice in the little lime bottle – maybe 1 to 1-1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 Tbs. Brown Sugar
  • 4-5 Tbs. Green Curry Paste* (this is spicy – you may want to start with less and add more in the end)
  • 5-6 cups diced vegetables (total, not each). I used: Onions, Yellow Bell Pepper, White-fleshed Sweet Potato, Bamboo Shoots, Water Chestnuts, Green Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Mushrooms (both white and  sun), Baby Corn, and Bean Sprouts.


  1. Spoon 1/4 of the coconut milk into a large pan or dutch oven (don’t bother stirring the milk at this point – just scoop out what’s on top).
  2. Add the green curry and mix well.
  3. Cook 5 minutes over medium high heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  4. Add in the rest of the coconut milk and the Tamari, lime juice, and brown sugar.
  5. Stir until the sugar has dissolved (just a few minutes).
  6. Add the vegetables and bring to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, turn to medium-low and cook, stirring often, about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

This makes about 4 servings (or, if you’re really hungry, 2 large). You can serve it with a side of rice (Jasmin is delish), pour it right over the rice, or leave the rice out, altogether.

*Notes: Light coconut milk has 50% fewer calories and about half the fat of regular. This (entire) recipe, as is, came to about 750 calories and around 20 grams of fat. Also, some brands of Green Curry Paste contain fish. If you’re looking for a vegan version of this, check the labels. I used Thai Kitchen which, I believe, is vegan.

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Thai Salmon Salad

Fred was pretty excited when his squash was coming up in droves in his greenhouse early this spring. I was pretty happy about it, too, until I found out, bless his heart, he’d only planted one kind. Needless to say, I’ve spent more than a few hours transplanting, roughly 4 dozen Butternut squash plants. Not all of them will make it but there’s enough that will — enough to cause our friends and neighbors to pull the shades and lock the doors when they see us coming, yet again, with more squash in hand.

“So,” you ask, “what does this have to do with Thai salmon salad?” Well, let me tell you. After spending another long day in the garden today, moving squash plants from little pots to bigger pots to live out their short and, hopefully, productive lives (seriously, our garden wouldn’t even have room for all these), I really needed a quick and easy dinner.

Even though I’m a vegetarian, I do eat fish now and then and, in particular, I like salmon. It’s chocked full of Omega oils and protein – both of which Fred and I can always use more of. The dressing was adapted, based on what I usually have on hand, from an existing recipe (thank you, Epicurious!) and I usually use Trader Joes Salmon Burgers (11 minutes to cook from frozen…can it get any better?) along with whatever kind of lettuce and vegetables I find in the fridge. This makes for a very good, quick, and nutritious meal.

salmon saladThai Salmon Salad

Dressing (makes appx. 1 cup)

  • 1/3 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Lime Juice
  • 3 tsp. Chili Sauce (Asian)
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp Ginger Paste
  • 1 tsp. Cilantro Paste
  • 1 tsp. Lemongrass Paste
  • 1 Tbs. chopped Thai Basil (fresh, use less if dried)
  • 1 tsp. chopped Mint (fresh, use less if dried)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper
  • Dash of Soy or Tamari Sauce

Whisk ingredients together and use, right away, or refrigerate and use right before serving.

Note: The herb pastes can usually be found in the produce section of your grocery store. They last a very long time (much longer than fresh) and the leftover fresh herbs can be chopped and frozen for later use. Though they might be a bit pricey, they’re quite worth the initial investment, in my opinion.

For the Salad

  • Lettuce, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Onions (red are good – I used green onions tonight), Peppers (yellow are very good with this), and grilled or pan-fried Salmon Burgers (I used 1-1/2 chopped, per person). Of course you can add whatever veggies you like. This is just our favorite combination.


  1. Make the dressing
  2. Arrange a bed of lettuce on a plate (one plate per person)
  3. Add the veggies & salmon (arrange them pretty-like…)
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the top (appx. 2 Tbs. per plate, depending on individual preference).

That’s it! Now go enjoy all that time you have now that you’re not stuck in the kitchen cooking!

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Marrowstone Island Tractor Days

There are a lot of little islands around Puget Sound. Most of them are uninhabited. A few of the larger, like Marrowstone, have a small population of interesting people and occasional community things to do. Over Memorial Day, they have their “Tractor Days,” where island residents bring their tractors for the parade. I’d never heard of it before but caught wind of it, a few months ago, and knew it was right up “farmer Freds” alley.

wrecked boat II - sigAlong the way, we found this old wreck of a boat, beached and looking quite sad as all the other lovely boats were floating right behind it. But, it made for a great photo op.

tractor dogWe were about an hour early for the parade so we wandered around, looking at the cool, old tractors. A lot of them were John Deere but there were a few others, like an Allis-Chalmers and Massey Harris. One gentleman brought his dog…or, should I say, this dog allowed his person to bring his tractor. Apparently these two (dog and tractor) are inseparable.

john deer tractor close up - sigWe came to find out that one of our friends, who lives on Marrowstone, was one of the original founders of “Tractor Days.” According to the (short-version) story, he and two friends went in on buying a great old tractor and were pretty excited about it until their wives found out and asked “what, on earth, were they going to do with it?”  Their response was “why, we’re going to put it in the parade!” “Parade?” they asked. “What parade?!” And “Tractor Days” was born…

back of deere - sigI thought it ironically funny that on the back of this tractor, filled with sharp, moving objects, the manufacturers thought it necessary to include a “be careful” label. I guess it’s a good idea but, maybe, the people who actually need this reminder might not be the best choice of tractor drivers. Just sayin’…

two sand dollars - sig

It was low tide and some kids had been ‘decorating’ the shore with sand dollars. I’m finding a lot of people assume they come “bright and clean” (ie; washed and bleached) as you see them in stores and such. Truth is, this is what they really look like. And, I think they’re beautiful and amazing just the way they are.

ferry and seattleOn the way home, we stopped by the ferry dock to take a peek. It wasn’t the clearest day but it was clear enough to see the Seattle skyline. Can you see the Space Needle? Pretty cool, huh?

Hope you enjoyed seeing bits and pieces of our day!

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