It’s been well over a month since my SXSW post. It would be natural of you to assume that my disappearance was because I was spending my time recovering from that experience – resting, sobering up, reading, running… but alas, that hasn’t been the case.
This weekend was the first in two solid months that hasn’t seen me traveling or hosting out-of-town guests. Two months! But I’m not complaining. It has been an absolutely wonderful two months and I wouldn’t change a second of it if I had the chance. I’ve had family visit, have traveled to Houston & San Antonio & Galveston & Lake Texana. I’ve been putting in some overtime at the office, have seen some awesome shows (White Rabbits!), and have been plotting to train for the Philadelphia Marathon & a duathlon sometime before the marathon. It’s been an amazingly busy, productive & rewarding spring. Life couldn’t be better.
While my busy schedule kept me in constant motion & with a perma-grin on my face, my garden and house became the victims of unintentional neglect. I spent some time caring for both of them, but not nearly enough. This weekend I finally had the opportunity to reacquaint myself with what’s been happening in the garden, as well as get some new things going in it. The biggest accomplishment was setting up drip irrigation in both beds.
Below are some photos of the garden as of today – more photos of this year’s garden progress are on my flickr page if you’d like to check them out!
The Better Boy tomato plant has set the biggest fruit thus far... yum!
The BHN-444's are most productive, but only cherry-tomato sized... not sure what's up with that. Any thoughts from my fellow gardeners?
First major pest problem of 2010: potato beetles destroying my potato foliage.
The tops on most of my onions have already fallen, but several giants are still growing & now flowering! Can't wait to see the bulbs waiting for me under these huge greens!
zuchinnis! I hope these don't turn out to be a disappointment like last year's crop...
Tassles starting to emerge on the corn, woohoo!!
The payoff: fresh onions, potatoes & garlic. Nom nom nom!
I was going to write about the garden again. I spent time in it yesterday, I took bunches of photos. But I just can’t bring myself to talk about broccoli or radishes or tomatoes right now. Because the most glorious SXSW 2010 was one week ago today. And right now I need nothing more than to sit, reflect, and piece together 5 days of fantastic music and memories.
a St. Patty's day line for fader fort looks like this.
Okay, so I didn’t accomplish a whole lot on Day 1 of SXSW. We stood in line for an hour at lunchtime to pick up our wristbands for Fader Fort. I went back to the office for a bit and then reemerged on the scene around 5pm at Red7 where I ran into a few friends, made some new ones, and saw The Rural Alberta Advantage. They were alright. The girl was cute. Paying $5 for Lone Star sucked. My more immediate concern was meeting up with friends across the street, which I did after the band finished their set.
We went to Bull McCabe’s and made an album cover. And asses of ourselves, I’m sure. After this point, the night begins to blur a bit. We left Bull McCabe’s for Fader Fort. It was my first SXSW with a Fader Fort wristband and it won’t be my last. Once inside the compound the alcohol was freely flowing (like, $0 for as many drinks as you could carry), BRAHMS was jamming on the stage at the western most end of the complex and the photo booths were endlessly entertaining. From there it was on to Shangri-La, where we ate tamales out of a cooler offered by a sketchy looking gentleman. Somewhere between Fader Fort and Shangri-La a tall British gentleman complimented me on my houndstooth shirt & picked me up and swung me around in the air for a bit. All in all, a successful start to the weekend.
That list looks awfully slim for the amount of awesomeness that we fit into our Thursday schedule. I worked a half day at the office, came home and ran a few miles (in anticipation of the havoc that was about to occupy my life for the following 4 days). My new fun friend Kyle got in from Houston around 3, and we scurried downtown for more fun line-sitting. In total we probably spent an hour and a half waiting in lines till we got into Fader Fort. We made up for the wait by double-fisting two rounds of beers while listening to the crazy woman lead singer for Bombo Estero. That girl could wail. We may have watched another set there too but I can’t remember… pounding two rounds of two drinks each will modify a person’s memory in fairly short order.
ahhhh... free beer smiles.
With beer in our bellies and smiles on our faces we headed towards town in the direction of Mohawk, where my friends were camped out between day parties & the night shows. My friend Hollie (see mafia picture above) had made friends with the Black Keys, the band who had played the last set at Mohawk that afternoon. Hollie’s connections are regularly getting us privileges fit for super-cool kids. It’s always fun to saunter up to the back of a mile long line for the front door, then receive a phone call from someone inside and get quickly ushered in through the back door. Which is precisely what happened for Kyle & I that afternoon. Once inside we milled about with handful of other super-cool kids (band members n groupies n what not). We patiently waited. And waited. At long last the sun fell and the music started up again. We made it through First Aid Kit, which was no small miracle. About halfway through the set friends Otis & Kim sent a full beer directly into Kyle’s face and for a minute I thought his eyes were going to dissolve right out of his sockets. The girls in First Aid Kit were Swedish, and they were okay. But then Salem took the stage. The show was awful. Barely tolerable. We all fought the irresistible urge to slit our wrists or jump off the balcony. Thankfully Hollie, in all of her awesomeness, had ordered up some pizza to be delivered to us at the bar. So we stuffed our faces and concentrated on drinking, eating & blocking the dreadful grunge/rap/drone from our ears.
Friday was awesome. We started the morning with a trip to Arkie’s Grill (mmmmmm paaaaancakes…). Then off to downtown for an afternoon of amazing show after amazing show. We started towards Mohawk & walked ourselves right into the Onion party upstairs: free Brooklyn Lager & Batter Blaster pancakes. YAY. We Were Promised Jetpacks rocked our socks off. The band before them, Still Life Still, was pretty great also. It was starting out to be a pretty good day.
At Antone’s we were up close & personal for the Citizen Cope show, and then Minus the Bear. Minus the Bear was awesome. They really were. I know there are some Antone’s haters out there, but I actually really love the place. Kyle’s main objective for his SX experience was to see MtB. It was good to check this show off the list.
We hustled back to Mohawk for Frightened Rabbit. The Brooklyn Lager keg was kicked but the Batter Blasters were still flying off the griddle left & right. It’s really bizarre to be at a show and see a bunch of people standing around eating pancakes with their fingers, by the way. Frightened Rabbit sounded great. Just like the LP. I was happy.
We briefly saw the friend group at Sidebar before leaving to meet up with Kyle’s friends at Buenos Aires cafe, where I proceeded to drink too much red wine and enjoyed chatting it up with Kevin the friendly waiter again. Kevin’s always a lot of fun, but he seemed pretty stressed out because of SXSW weekend. My vegetarian crepes were the most delicious thing on the face of this earth – highly recommend them to anyone planning a trip to Buenos Aires Cafe. From the Cafe we journeyed over to Rio Rita, where the girls got Bloody Marys and I got even closer to porcelain god worship. Another truly awesome night.
I’m having a hard time remembering Saturday. Many, many braincells had been killed by this point. I know it started with breakfast tacos at Taco Deli. And then a tour of the office for Kyle. And then…? I guess we went downtown. And we saw the awesome shows listed above. And then I think we went to Uncorked for a few glasses of wine. And then Koriente for yummy japanese. And then we met Kim & Sara at Bull McCabe’s? And then we went to some random place to watch the K State game. YES! This is what happened on Saturday, I’m sure of it.
My take-away from Saturday was that Holy Fuck is… holy fuck, awesome. I danced, danced, danced. Think About Life was a super-fun, new, unique, interesting band too. I enjoyed their show a whole ton. What I really loved about both shows was the variety of people in the audience. I swear I saw a farmer my dad’s age leaning against the stage & bobbing his head during Holy Fuck’s set. And at Think About Life, there were folks from all walks of life, all ages, etc. It seemed an appropriate mirror to the unique composition of the band itself.
At this point, I was just happy to still be alive. There weren’t any set plans for music on Sunday. We started with the legendary Juan in a Million for breakfast. Then a tour of Town Lake Park. Then a tour of West Austin (to show Kyle that not all of Austin is gritty like East Austin or 6th Street). And then,“hey, I have those tickets for the show up near UT…. ahhh, what the heck. Let’s go.” Free Lone Star. And Kyle got some sweet gear from Cream Vintage, which the venue backed up to. I discovered that I have a severe girl crush on the lead singer of The White White Lights. The guitarists sunglasses went flying off of his head multiple times. They did Toadies covers? But also their own stuff, that ranged from super sweet to death metal. It was pretty awesome.
And that concludes my recap. It was a long post. There was a lot to cover, and probably lots that I missed. Like the mysterious bruises I found on Monday, and the glass of wine I shattered on Thursday and how Wii Fit continues to be a source of sheer joy after a day of drinking. But those are all small beans compared to the crazy awesome shows we saw & some of the bigger pieces of the puzzle that I summarized here. This alone has already taken me 2 hours to write. It’s too beautiful of a day to waste time collecting & sharing all of the little bean stories.
Did anyone else see some crazy fun stuff that I should’ve seen? Or go to any awesome venues/day parties that need to be added to the list for next year’s SXSW? Please share. If I can fit any more awesome to next year’s SX experience, I’ll be amazed and out-of-my-mind happy. I challenge you to help me achieve this lofty goal.
Yup. Just like my him – minus the ponytail, of course. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night keeps my garden from making vegetables. Our Texas winter has been just about as predictable as the stock market for the last two months. One day it’s 75 degrees and sunny, then two days later it’s 32 degrees and snowing. My plants aren’t sure what to do with themselves, but they continue to trudge forward in spite of it all. Seeds have been slow to sprout & transplants have been hesitant to grow. The only thing showing zero regard for the erratic conditions are my strawberries, who seem convinced that now is the perfect time to set fruit.
I keep catching myself thinking that this harsh winter has set me back in the garden but in reality I’m right on track (if not a little ahead). At this time last year I had 2 types of lettuce, 2 types of onions, and edamame planted. I didn’t even have an herb garden yet! This year by the 1st of March the garden will boast 3 varieties of lettuce, 2 varieties of onions, spinach, arugula, 2 varieties of radishes, beets, strawberries, carrot seedlings, potato starts and broccoli. Not to mention the cilantro, mint julep, catnip, camomile, oregano, rosemary and sage in the herb bed. In 2 weeks I’ll start planting the March crops: summer squash, corn and tomatoes. I can’t WAIT to plant the corn. It is going to look absolutely ridiculous in it’s tiny raised planter. I fully intend to relive my rural Lancaster County childhood by running back and forth through the single row, 8 stalks long. It’s going to be great.
lots of goodies growing!
Milo helps keep the weeds down between trips to the catnip.
Though the garden will soon be bursting with productivity, there are a few problem areas still needing to be solved. For one, I’ve got a cat problem. For the sake of being positive, let’s call it a challenge. My challenge has two parts. One: my lovely neighbor kitty Maybe, thinks that I built the raised beds for her to use as a litter box. I had this problem last year too but it wasn’t such a big deal because my direct seeding in the garden was limited to edamame. This year is a different story. So far she’s made ditches through my beets, piled mountains on my radishes, and hollowed out pits in my carrots. I can’t really blame her because she had no idea that seeds had been planted there and were germinating under her paws. And I have to admit that the beds do look like glorious feline restroom facilities. I’m hoping that she’ll find other places to bury her treasure once larger plants prohibit her from breaking & entering (& pooping). But for now I have to keep my eyes out. My second cat challenge is with the catnip. It took several months but the kitties have finally figured out that they can climb into the herb bed and roll/graze/burrow in the catnip whenever they like. I’ve come to expect the catnip to look brush-burnt. Cat hair covers it like a wispy mold-like disease. Kitties roam the neighborhood looking dazed and haunted. I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do about this challenge. I’ve considered moving the catnip to grow light indoors and charging by the leaf. If anyone has any better ideas, let me know.
My second garden problem is the soil loss out of bed 2. I followed the bed-building method we were taught in the Citizen Gardener class last fall, but I did not follow it as closely as I ought to have. Because I didn’t put mulch down around the planter, soil is slipping through the cracks. Each week I inspect the bed the soil level seems to have sunk another 1/8″ inch. The whole thing looks a bit messy. The messy part doesn’t bother me much, but it would be nice to keep the weeds down around the bed. This is an easily solve-able problem and the next time I head out to the Natural Gardener I’m going to pick up some of their hardwood mulch.
Beyond those small challenges I’m really pleased with how the garden is coming along in 2010. I’ll be even more pleased once I can begin harvesting. The lettuce is getting close, and I’ve been enjoying the herbs all winter long. I’m tickled pink by the volunteer plants I discover each week. The volunteer lettuce is absolutely out of control. This week I saw that my mint julep has fully escaped the herb bed and is coming up randomly throughout the front yard. I imagine it won’t be long before my entire front lawn is edible landscape!
Two months ago I dropped my camera face-first into the soupy mix of treated sewage at this year’s wet and wild Austin City Limits music festival. While I was without the graphic support of images, I took a short break from the blogosphere and rejoined the land of the living. I spent a couple of weeks working in our Dallas office. I spent time with my friends. I ran the Race for the Cure. I saw some great bands. I discovered new artists on the East Austin Studio Tour. I spent a few Saturdays at Johnson’s Backyard Garden and celebrated Citizen Gardener graduation at the Barr Mansion. I reunited with a friend who returned from Afghanistan in August, and discovered an exciting new relationship. And all the while, my garden kept on growing.
first carrot. suspicious.
Since the last update in September I’ve added radishes, cilantro and sage to my garden. My baby carrots exploded into tall ferny greens, and my heirloom tomatoes had finally started to push out golf-ball sized babies. My green peppers were still producing wildly, and my fresh basil continued to be the backbone of the tomato/feta/basil salads I’ve grown to love so much. Things were looking pretty darn good. I was really excited about my heirloom tomatoes. Mother Nature, however, had other plans.
On Friday afternoon little tiny snowflakes ran panicked in the air, clearly confused as to why they’d been sent to this part of the world. Friday night brought temperatures in the 20′s. Standing water froze solid. But water in other areas froze solid too – water in plant leaves and vegetables, particularly. In spite of my pathetic attempt at blanketing my plants with an old shower curtain, my tomatoes, peppers & basil plants didn’t survive our first hard freeze. The good news is that my carrots & radishes are going to flourish now that they’re out of the shadows of these larger plants. I’m also excited to begin clearing out these less hardy plants so that I can begin implementing my plans for the garden next year. With the experience gleaned from this first year, plus the expanded space from the new raised bed that I built last week, 2010 should be a year with a little better productivity, a few less mistakes, and perhaps a few more experiments!
Here are more pictures of the destruction. Next year I will harvest before this happens – so much food wasted!
Let me tell you all – it has been one crazy month. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve turned thirty and the world is suddenly flying by me at a rapid pace. I’m saying that because just one month ago I made the decision to put together a benefit for Sustainable Food Center and I only gave myself three weeks to do it. While it was admittedly a stressful & challenging three weeks, I don’t regret the decision for one minute. I had the help of some fantastic friends (Sara P., Andy, Melissa, Hollie, Sarah Cash – you are awesome). And I had the support of an entire community of people who are genuinely interested in our food future. I want to use this post to look back and appreciate all that came together in such a short time and provide some insight into some of the phenomenal things that came from it.
First of all, we raised $374 for Sustainable Food Center- a fantastic little chunk of change for a non-profit! Susan Leibrock, Community Relations Director from SFC, shared with me that just 5% of SFC’s annual budget comes from private donations. Events like this soiree are critical to helping SFC generate funds through private donations.
The second amazing and unexpected thing I experienced while organizing this event was the involvement of people & the community. I have never seen such a tremendous outpouring of support - it was downright overwhelming. I sent cold-call emails to folks I’d never met before and they were happy, if not eager to support the cause. Paula from Paula’s Texas Spirits was the perfect example. I emailed her to see if they would be willing to donate a small item to give away as a raffle prize. Paula responded with this:
”Absolutely. We have a gift pack with half-bottles of both products
that we can give you. What about drinks during the party? As you
know, we can mix a mean drink.”
How do you respond to that? Words could not express my delight over receiving this email. Of COURSE I wanted Paula to come mix some drinks! And that’s exactly what she did – showed up on Sunday with a cooler in hand & mixes of some of the best cocktails our guests had ever tasted.
Through similar cold-call emails I received gift certifcates from Greenling.com, Wheatsville Co-op, Farmhouse Delivery, Boggy Creek Farm & Waterstone Aesthetics. Tito’s vodka & Paula’s Texas Spirits chipped in gift baskets to raffle off. Trey from U-Clique Studio agreed to come out and set up his hilariously fun photo-booth for the day (and was kind enough to put the “NSFW” photos in a secret, seperate account for us) and Jeff from Break it Down Austin brought out a compost bin. Throughout the day we loaded it up with corn-starch plates, compostable tableware & kitchen scraps. Amy from Independence Brewery chipped in a keg of delicious Austin Amber, and even Miscellaneous Rentals got in the action by giving us a sweet discount on rental tables & chairs for the day. One of the crowd favorites was by Diana of The Cake Lab, who brought by her famous carrot cake cupcakes that gave us visions of sweets all through the next week.
That all of these folks contributed at all was such a gift – but that they agreed to contribute on such short notice was a blessing.
And then, of course, there were my friends & co-workers who came out to show their support. Whether you were there to party, to support SFC, or just to say happy birthday & support my cause: thank you for coming out and contributing to this event with your time, $ and cooking skills. This event could not and would not have happened without you – I am so grateful!