Thursday, August 27, 2009

Inspirasjon Fra Norge

I'm fighting the urge to SLEEP after coming home last night by going through our photos of our trip! I won't bombard you with too many fjord photos (and believe me, I have plenty!), but here's a few things I found inspiring. The photo above is of a wall inside the Olso Opera House. I'm usually not a fan of monstrous modern architecture, but I have to admit that I'm an admirer of this one.

Here we have a little mini-house sporting a traditional slate roof. The lichen gives it a lovely pattern. This was along the edge of the Aurlandsfjord.

Here's a grating that was part of the art college in Oslo. The flourishes reminded me a bit of my logo, but it's also providing some inspiration for some bent lamination I'm working on.

Seriously, how cool is that?! It's got a Barbarella/Mid-Century starburst aesthetic that makes me want to be a copycat!

I like the barren landscape around the Hardangerjokulen (jokulen = glacier). It's above the treeline, so only rocks and lichen littered the landscape. When taken out of context, it seems like some textural study of modern art.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Plant of the Week: St. Catherine's Lace

This is hands-down one of my favorite plants. Buckwheats just magically make everything so much nicer and Eriogonum giganteum is no exception. The largest of all the buckwheats (as the name suggests), St. Catherine lives large with evergrayness. Even after the flowers fade from soft pink, the rust colored blooms add interest to the winter garden. It's always the last to get deadheaded in my yard. Much like manzanita or madrone trees, the branches develop lovely peeling bark. It also grows relatively quickly- a happy surprise in my fledgling patch of widely spaced slow-growing natives!

Soil: Well-drained, but happy in clay.
Sun: will take full sun and even part shade
Plant: I've had good luck with early Spring, but they aren't picky.
Buy it: I bought one from the Berkeley Botanical Garden during one of their infamous sales. Annie's also has them.
Good for: adding a bit of elegance without taking the space of a tree. Birds, butterflies, bees: this thing attracts them all!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burnt to a Lovely Crisp

Well, I finally got around to buying a wood-burning tool and without managing to burn my fingers (hooray!) made a darn pretty sign for the front garden if I do say so myself. I'm still drooling over the logo, which was designed by my friends one of which can be found here.

Holiday in Norway

A quick note to warn my dear readers (hi, Mom) that I will be taking a jump over the pond to Norway for a weeks holiday. Be prepared for some fjordacious photos when I return! Anyone have advice and recommendations? I want the best reindeer this country has to offer!

Eggplant and Green Tomato Parmesan

I just can't take enough photos of my tomatoes. They're my personal supermodels! The other night I realized there were eggplants in my fridge and needed to use them. It was then that one of those ideas struck me- the kind where you can't tell if it's horrible or brilliant. Combining the cultural history of my neighborhood, Idora Park I would construct an eggplant and green tomato Parmesan! Idora Park originated as an Italian neighborhood (hence the eggplant Parmesan) which shifted in the 60s to an affluent African-American neighborhood (hence the green tomatoes).

I used Mark Bittman's recipe in How to Cook Everything as a jumping off point, although I dipped the eggplant and tomatoes in flour first, then egg and milk, then finished off with seasoned breadcrumbs before frying to make a more substantial crust. I also omitted mozzarella mostly because I didn't feel like going to the store, but apparently it's authentico without.
The green tomatoes added a nice acidity and contrasted nicely with the eggplant. I'd recommend!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Plant of the Week: Catalina Live-Forever

What could be better than that rare combination of a California native plant and a succulent? This succulent, native to the Catalina Islands, looks to me like little witchy fingers reaching out of the ground! Dudleya hassei is effortless to grow and when it's been sunbathing for awhile, will develop pink on its tips. It's quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Tuck a few in the bare spots in the garden.

Soil: well-drained
Sun: full sun on the coast, part sun inland
Plant: any time of the year.
Buy it: ask your local nursery to order you some from San Marcos Growers
Good for: adding texture and a tinge of pink to your dry garden. Attracts hummingbirds, but beware, the Theodore Payne site warns of "mammals" browsing for moisture! Thank goodness the only mammals I need to worry about in my neighborhood are Otter-pop wrappers!

Field Trip: Monterey Bay Aquarium

We recently went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and had a fabulous time! I like this aquarium because it focuses so much on California's unique sea life and helps you appreciate what's lurking under that cold, gray water.

We were especially fascinated with the seahorse exhibit. Who knew seahorses were such complicated creatures? You really have to click on that link- you don't want to miss out on glimpsing a leafy sea dragon now, do you?

Of course, we spent a significant part of the day playing in the interactive tide pool (you can poke sea cucumbers!), but our jaws literally dropped standing before the jellyfish. Elegant yet globular, random yet regular. I'd love to incorporate this inspiration into a garden design!