I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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Archive for the ‘urban farming’ Category

September 7, 2010

this and that

A few things I’ve been up to of late… and by late I mean in the last 5 days.

more ciabatta

they look good, but honestly they leave a little something to be desired.

The squirrels have been feasting on our sunflowers.

Piles of fabric everywhere.

Major crafting for Hitched.

Are any of you going to it? It’s going to be a pretty awesome party. We’ll have a DIY table set up so please stop by and say hi!

August 11, 2010

Sunset mag

Every month when I open the new Sunset I think, I seriously need to do a post on how much I love this magazine. And then I promptly forget once I’ve read through the pages and dog-eared half of them. I had to email myself last week to remind me to do this post.

In a few words, it’s pretty much a perfect magazine. And now that Gourmet is gone (though perhaps making a comeback?), it’s even better. It has most everything I love about life: food, gardening, backyard patios, home decor, living in California, little trips around the west, and a smattering of trendy ideas, like airstream trailers and gourmet ice cream shops. It doesn’t have any fashion or make up tips or relationship advice, thank god. It’s so relevant to my life at this moment, which is exactly what the perfect magazine should be. Yay Sunset! You’ve seriously stepped it up in the last year.

Let me show you around the latest issue:

It’s the national park issue, which couldn’t have been more perfect timing considering when I picked it out the mailbox we were just packing for Yosemite.

Best river float: the Merced, through Yosemite Valley. It IS pretty awesome, though we couldn’t partake this year with the babe. Here’s a little secret, the Merced is actually more beautiful up the in Yosemite backcountry, about a day’s hike out of the valley. But you can only enjoy it if you’re backpacking. One day we’ll backpack again.

Glacier… one day we’ll go there too.

An awesome little spread on repurposing found objects: a shutter succulent garden,

Sewer pipe planters,

And a gate made from old oars. Pretty genius.

A pretty, wine-racked kitchen.

A rustic cabin modern remodel. Yum.

A family of pioneer caretakers in Montana.

I love a good set of raised beds.

Gastrique. A balsamic vinegar, fig cocktail mixer. I will be making this at some point this summer.

Peak season recipes.

And party ideas.

Plus the Sunset website has all sorts of great stuff too. Like a summer canning guide (we all know how much I love to can), growing and eating tomatillos (yay! I have tomatillos growing out back), and a photo gallery of modern cabins.

I could go on, but I will let you explore a bit on your own.

July 30, 2010

the afternoon harvest

Which led directly into last evening’s dinner. Quite satisfying if I do say so me-self. Most of the beets were a bit small, but their tops had started to look sad and I think the weather has turned inhospitable to our lovely red friends. I pulled them all out and figured we’d start again in the fall. Which judging by our current weather patterns, should be sometime in December. (WHEN IS SUMMER GOING TO GET HERE???)

In making last night’s din, I was reminded of a favorite Deborah Madison quote from Local Flavors (one of my favorite cookbooks, btw):

“When food is cheap we tend to treat it carelessly and wastefully. But when it’s dear, when it costs what it’s actually worth, we tend to pay closer attention to it. In this sense, good food can sharply focus our world.”

I grew those darn beet tops and one way or another (even if it took me nearly an hour to wash all the dirt and bird poop and aphids off of them), I was going to enjoy every last leafy morsel. When I buy my beets at the market, I often ask for the tops off, even though I do love them, because I sometimes can’t deal with the cleaning and trimming and preparing. But when you grow your own food, it becomes so precious that you can’t help but put in the extra effort in the kitchen.

Hence, sauteed beans and greens with garlic and butter + roasted beet and carrot salad with avo and lime + quinoa (of course) + and a teeny pile of chickpeas for protein.

You should see Brock’s face when I concoct a dinner like this. He’s like, “We’re having what exactly?” You’d think I’d offered him a plate of cheeze whiz and noodles. (Just kidding, my love. Sort of.)

(Look familiar?)

But he does his best to enjoy. And I always say, “But aren’t you IMPRESSED that I GREW all of this????” He is. He’d just prefer it if I grew margarita pizzas and everything bagels. But I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

I’m leaving on Sunday for Yosemite for the week with my whole family, so posts might be light, or lighter than usual. But I may pop in with some photos. Ahh vacation. Or as my family likes to call it “Death by Vacation.” I’m sure some of you out there can relate. But we always have a big time.

Have a most excellent weekend.

July 27, 2010


I would say “weekend” but the lines between week and weekend are awfully blurry as of late. I seem to be in the habit of blogging Tuesday – Thursday, which is less than I hope to but sometimes all I can manage.

But look at these things I took pictures of over the “weekend”:

Dashiell has his first taste of “food”. Which is actually this flakey instant rice stuff that you mix with breastmilk until it’s basically like milk soup. Supposedly it’s whole grain, though I didn’t see anything wholesome about the box of white flakes. Can’t wait until I can make my own millet cereal for him. Yummm.

We have a miniature Easter Island sort of situation going on along the bike path where we run. There are literally hundreds of these balanced rock sculptures lining the Ballona Creek. Creek should actually be “creek” (lot’s of quotes in this post) because it’s actually an inlet/outlet from the marina, but whatever. And I’ve seen the guy who makes them. He’s out there every day stacking and stacking and stacking.

Finally got around to finishing the bumper for Dashiell’s crib. I’m in love the fabric. It’s vintage Marimekko I found at Lincoln Fabrics, of which I proceeded to purchase ever last inch last December. I’m not so in love with my sewing skills, but those could potentially improve.

Also of note, cooking from the garden. I’m on my second batch of Jamie Oliver’s pickles. They are amazing. I think I’m going to try green beans next. And then make small jars of cukes for xmas presents. Might as well get ahead while the garden is giving.

And we made it out to the otheroom for a little rosé in celebration of Melanie’s birthday. Do you want to hear how nice my husband is? We were supposed to switch off pushing Dashiell around Abbot Kinney so we could each have a dllinkkity-dllrink, but I was so ecstatic to be out in the world, sipping chilled wine and socializing with other adults that he let me stay in the bar the whole time.

July 21, 2010

weekend plus

A few late pictures from the weekend:

Giant milkweed seed pods:

Purple beans from the garden:

Turned into marinated bean salad a la J. Oliver:

We’ve been roasting peppers a lot too:

And we took Dashiell to the beach and let him roll around semi-neked on the blanket:

Here he is, all 5 months of him:

Man, it really does go by fast. He’s just recently found the lower register of his voice. Which means he spends all day going, “heh. heh. heh. heh. heh. heh. heh. heh.”

It’s hilarious. And to his mama, pretty much the cutest thing ever.

June 23, 2010

taking tomatoes seriously

Perhaps for the first time, I think I might try to grow tomatoes that are better than just those you can eat on a bagel with salt and pepper. I do grow them every year, but I don’t really pay them any attention, except for cutting back on the water once they start to seriously fruit. But as it turns out, when the plants get so huge and out of control (as they tend to in our yard) the tomatoes themselves are good for cooking and not much else.

What is the point of growing tomatoes if you can’t chop them up in a salad and love them to pieces?

So this year I’ve done a little research and it appears that one of the most important things is to be vigilant about suckering them from the start. For those of you who don’t know what suckering is, I shall explain both the process and why you do it. Now that I am an expert. Or you could just read one of the articles I read and you can be an expert too.

So the tomato plant has a main stalk, and at each leaf juncture, it has a tendency to want to create another main stalk by sending out a little shoot. This little shoot, if left alone, will go on to become a fruit producing part of your tomato plant’s team. Sounds good, right? The more tomatoes the better? Apparently no. In order to produce delicious tomatoes, you need to coax your plants into using all of their energy (the sugar they create from sunlight) into producing just one stalk, with a few key leaves and very sweet, very tasty tomatoes. If you allow the plant to produce as many stalks as it would like, you’ll have a dense thicket of tomato leaves, branches and fruit. But it will be prone to disease and rot and all sorts of other sub-optimal things. Not to mention, your tomatoes will have to compete with all those leaves and stalks for the sugar that makes them so tasty.

So the plan is this: go out to your plants, and if it’s not too late snap off each sucker at the root of the main stem. You’ll have a more spindly looking plant, but it will be healthier. And with a few other tricks will allegedly produce Caprese worthy tomatoes. The only other note is that above the first fruit clump, you are apparently allowed to let your plant grow one more main stalk. I accidentally had this happen to one of my plants but the rest I think I’m going to keep as barren as possible. It’s my summer gardening experiment. And part of my pledge to grow only what I actually want to eat. As opposed to 30 pounds of italian squash per week like last summer. That was disgusting.

This year I think the problem is going to be beans. We have A LOT of pole beans creeping skyward. I will be donating them to the first person who shows up on my doorstep when the time comes.

And as far as tying your tomatoes, staking is supposed to be better than cages. Which makes sense if you just have one stalk. But I already have all of the cages so I’m still using them this year.

And if I remember correctly, your should cut back on water significantly once your plants have started to really fruit. Too much water = mealy, flavorless tomatoes. And if there’s one thing I REALLY can’t stand it’s a mealy tomato. (Same goes for peaches and apples. Sick). I also read that you should fertilize them with kelp and bone meal, but I haven’t gone that far yet. Debating on whether I should order some though. I mean if I say I’m taking this seriously then don’t I have to go all the way?

June 18, 2010


Are majorly in season in our backyard at the moment. I leave you for friday and this practically official first weekend of summer and longest of the year, with them. They would be so delicious with some vanilla ice cream, if I could eat vanilla ice cream.

We’re off today to San Diego for another wedding. This time of our good friend Allison. I’m a bridesmaid… though I think I’m now officially a bridesmatron? How does that work exactly?

Have a delicious summery weekend full of maybe pie and the accompanying dairy products. How I miss old fashioned dairy products.

June 7, 2010

green things and the baby

All weekends should be three days long, that much we’ve established as fact. I of course have 3 day weekends whenever I want them at this point, but it’s not really a weekend if Brock isn’t home too. Which made this weekend way too short.

We did finally get our crib! The one we wanted was sold out everywhere until August or September, which just wouldn’t do. But Brock found a floor model at Giggle in Pasadena and we got it for 30% off. Which we were well happy about.

Still waiting on the mattress however. I only ordered it three weeks ago. Is this not 2010? Don’t things come in three days or less no matter what?? Apparently they make these mattresses to order or something. Supposed to be here this week. Baby is literally spilling out of his bassinet/stroller.


Okay maybe not quite. But he’s just discovered his feet and also that he can decide not to nap, but instead play with them.

Radish sprouts are coming up everywhere. I love radishes straight out of the dirt.

And for dinner, baby turnips and their greens. Yumm.

And I desperately wanted to make it to Lily’s show in Silverlake, but alas, the non-napping but very talkative baby had other plans.

Oh, and. Biggest news of the year.

He giggled for the first time last night. Like a real giggle. Ms. Lamott was right (as always); it sounded like bells.

May 14, 2010

a few things for friday

Beer traps really do work.

They’re supposed to catch slugs, but in one night I ended up with about 100 earwigs and 1 slug. Earwigs are the bane of my gardening existence. (See the teeny arugula sprouts on the right? Saved!) Also those are eggshells, which are supposed to deter slugs too. Jury still out on that one.

Lentils look like teeny snow peas when they’re on the plant. Cute.

Chioggia beets are delicious, and more so when marinated in rosemary, olive oil, and balsamic and then roasted.

My son is sometimes very serious. Especially when watching the Lakers with his dad. Brock is teaching him to be a sports enthusiast at an early age.

Happy weekend!

Hope you’re all up to something excellent. I’m getting a facial from Melanie’s friend Juliana. She’s the best. If you’re in west LA, definitely try her next time you’re in need.

May 3, 2010

growing out back this minute

Sadly there’s not much of a spring bounty this year. But there are some things coming in that I have absolutely nothing to do with, which I’m going to be happy with for now.



Flax (sprouted from chicken feed)

Kumquats (would be so nice in a gin & tonic on the patio)

And the SAD SAD state of our vegetable garden…

Empty boxes. Plus a few herbs. I’m trying to work on that in the next few weeks.