Start a Garden!
I grew up in San Jose, in a pink room with ballerina wallpaper, but outside my bedroom window all summer were my dad’s green beans strung across the view! His big garden was just outside my window. Dad has always been passionate about gardening. He has his first garden at 18 months old, was in Future Farmers and 4H. His own dad grew up on a farm in Mt Ayr, Iowa. Thanks to my dad’s hobby, we learned to love eating all kind of veggies year round.
My dad had a greenhouse he built and a compost pile, which we called the worm bin. It kind of grossed me out as a kid, but I now realize he was composting before it was cool. I still love the smell of wet dirt, a scent that would waft through my bedroom each evening when my dad watered. As kids we were given small plants to tend and I loved visiting my own little pots in the greenhouse. I am so grateful to still have my dad helping me with the garden each year when we put in our vegetable garden. He inspires me so much and has rubbed off on my oldest son Jackson, who loves gardening and plants.
During the pandemic people began working in their yards for their sanity, and I agree there is nothing like a break gardening outside. Something about being out, with the bird songs, the scent of earth and flowers can calm you. It also keeps you fit. My dad is 82 and has the back of an ox because of it. While gardening, you crouch, twist and turn, lift a lot of heavy things and it keeps you flexible.
Tomatoes are one of the most rewarding and easiest things to grow here in California. You need to wait to put the plants in the ground when the evenings are turning warmer- usually late April or early May here in Northern Cal. I just put mine in Mother’s Day weekend. I recommend for vegetables, start with plants, as seeds need more time to start in small pots, be babied and nurtured.
If you have a space that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day, that is a good spot for a tomato garden. I was lucky to already have some garden beds on the south side of my home when we bought it. If you don’t have the space, you can start with pots and there are many ‘bush’ or patio type of tomatoes that grow the right sizes for porches and can produce a lot.
Make sure your soil is turned over well and before planting your tomatoes, pick off the bottom few limbs and plant it a few inches up the stalk. Tomatoes need a lot of water the first week and then after only a few times a week, unless they look saggy. Water in mornings and at the root of the plant, making a little pool around it. You can’t really irrigate a garden. You need to water by hand, as you have to not water until needed, or more when it’s getting warm.
Choose organic tomatoes, and make sure any fertilizer or food you use is organic and without pesticides. You want fertilizer made just for organic veggies. I also use no pesticides in my yard. That means I occasionally have to go pull a few weeds every week for 20 minutes or so. It’s worth it. Pesticides last forever in the ground and can harm the whole ecosystem. If you have yard people and they have tanks on their backs, with squirters, they are using pesticides. It runs off when the yard is watered, and affects the water system as well. When I have any things in my yard like white flies or something, I power spray them off with the hose or spray with a gentle soap to manage them.
You will love growing tomatoes and they become almost no maintenance after August. Starting in September I stop watering them and dry farm. They take on an even deeper flavor and keep producing! You will can get tomatoes until November here in California. Compare any yard tomato to a store bought and they aren’t the same species. They also make the best caprese ! If you are a gardener please share any tips or varieties in the comments. My favorite tomatoes are Early Girl, Sweet 100, Berkeley Tie-Dye and Brandywine, which is an heirloom. It’s nice to have a variety. Don’t forget to add some basil in that garden too!
Peaches and Tomato Caprese Salad
Since we are talking tomatoes, I just had to share my favorite dish when peach season is happening, which is now in California! Just tonight we made our first caprese with peaches of the season. Tomatoes are not at their peak yet, but the stores have some hot house versions you can use until next month.
There’s no secret to this recipe, but I do like the soft mozzarella ( not the kind you slice for lasagna), that is wrapped in plastic, rather than water. It has a better texture and holds the oils and juices better. Look for it by the fresh cheeses. I also love California olive oil, a little sprinkle of Maldon sea salt, and fresh pepper. The best basil is always from your own pots. I buy the plants that they have at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and keep them near the kitchen, and also put one or two in the ground. They beat the bought basil that has been packed in a plastic box.
Max’s new Setu desk chair!
Remember this post a few weeks back about giving Max’s home office/guest room a spring refresh? I was thrilled with the peel and stick wallpaper and also the nice daybed from Wayfair. What I hated though was Max’s old office chair he got at an office supply warehouse place. It not only had the lines of a 70’s Buick, it was peeling like one and had gross faux leather and took up a LOT of space in the small room. He was committed to it though, as he spent like $199 on it!
Well, he’s been back in the office and has had a really great chair there, and he noticed after working in it all day, he has no leg or back pain like he gets in his current chair. He told me it was a Herman Miller design and I got excited. We went to go try it out at the Design Within Reach store in Palo Alto, and sat in every chair, but we both loved the Setu Chair with ribbon arms.
If you need back support, this is your chair. I love their description of the Setu:
Sit in Setu — The Setu Chair defines flexibility, moving with the user, with a clean aesthetic that suits nearly any home or office space. It’s no accident that this chair is designed for a healthy back – Setu is Sanskrit for “bridge” and borrowed from the yoga pose Setu Bandhasana, a strengthening backbend.Herman Miller
It weighs just 17 pounds and also won a certification for highest quality of lowest certification for low VOC furniture. I am thinking of now saving for one and I love the blue and white versions. His cost around $795, but if you think of the days, hours and years you are in an office chair, it’s worth the extra cost and some employers will contribute to the home office cost too.
Walking the Dish Loop at Stanford + lunch & Keplers
One of my favorite things to do on a weekend with mild weather is hike the Stanford Dish Loop Trail early and then follow up with lunch at Cafe Barrone in Menlo Park and a good browse at Kepler’s bookstore.
Last Sunday it was a beautiful day to hike. It’s about 4 miles total with a bit of uphill at the beginning. We like to go early as parking along Stanford Avenue can get full. You can get a fantastic view of the university and surrounding hills. Last Sunday we hiked with Jackson and his girlfriend and her family. This time they suggested a small detour at the end and we crossed Junipero Serra Rd and walked the rest of the trail through the pretty neighborhoods of Stanford. Some stunning and historic homes!
Cafe Barrone is an old school Silicon Valley hangout for students at Stanford and high tech peeps. We love it as you can grab a table and have a good spot to people watch. Families and dogs are all over along with students. The baked goods and breakfasts are fantastic and are worth the wait in line to order. Food usually comes fast. I can’t resist the chicken salad sandwich on raisin bread. We usually come with our kids and we all have to get their famous ‘Mocha Freeze’ shake that they’ve been serving since the 1970’s.
Kepler’s is my all-time favorite bookstore. They have an expansive selection of books in every genre. Always the have the latest in everything, and wonderful reviews written by hand by many books. They still sell magazines and great stationery and cards..Amazing kid’s section and a book club and many literary events and speakers. I never go home without something from here as I want this place to stay in business!! It’s one of the last remaining independent bookstores. They opened in 1955 and closed in 2005, but because of strong love from customers they are now reopened and run thanks to community support. Read their whole story here.
My friend Elaine’s new front of house refresh
My friend Elaine lives in the pretty Willow Glen area of San Jose and recently did a refresh of the front of her home. Elaine’s husband Todd is an architect, so this is a combination of Todd’s skills and experience with Elaine’s great taste.
They are still working on the landscape and some of the porch, but already I love how she choose an orange paint for the door, some lovely rope chairs that give it a fun modern vibe. Adore the mailbox, the lanterns and her doormat too.
The beautiful mix of shingles and boards make the house so pretty and unique.
This is before and after…
Elaine is an amazing entertainer and she’s going to be on a future blog with tips for us (I mean me really), on how she does it! Stay tuned..
Elaine’s front porch has good looking rope chairs from World Market from a past season. They no longer make that style, but they do make these Matteo Chairs and the price is nice for these which look expensive and can run in the thousands..
I had planned to get a new pair of white jeans this summer and this week stopped into local boutique, Bella Rosa and after chatting with friendly women there about white denim they encouraged me to try some on. I’m not a fan of super high rise, and want comfort and a flattering look, especially on the leg. White jeans need to be of a thicker cotton and not tight looking (at least for my age). They brought me many different pairs, but I ended up loving the look and comfort of the ‘The Ditcher’ jeans by Mother. It’s my first pair of Mother jeans and they just kind of feel great on. I run between a 27 and 28 and bought these in 27, as they are slightly large. I have worn them several times and they stretch out very little, but are comfy! Since buying these I’ve heard from a few friends this issue their favorite brand!
You should stop by Bella Rosa if you are in Los Gatos. I was on the way to an appointment, but I plan to go back. I love the service, sweet people and a beautiful California chic collection of clothes!
If you aren’t nearby you can also find my white jeans here. Mother also carries this ankle fray pair (below left), that is their best seller and I might consider too. There is also this pair from Gap (below right), and these Citizens of Humanity and these by AGOLDE.
As a Californian I wear white jeans so much and I think getting a nice pair every year is a good investment for the closet. I need them to feel great so I want to wear everyday. I don’t save my white jeans, but wear them nonstop until they feel super comfy and broken in.
Other Things This Week…
Juliets’s wedding post! If you missed it, Juliet published the best wedding post with all the details of her step-son Kyle’s wedding in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s wonderfully done and what a beautiful wedding. I loved all the special touches and saved and pinned it all in case I ever get to help with a wedding for one of the sons! I loved the video so much I was bawling.. and I don’t even know them. A darling couple! Juliet is a pro at planning events and she loves to share how these things come off! I am learning from her all the time.
I can hardly believe it, but this is our 16th Saturday of doing this and I have so enjoyed sharing these things that I wouldn’t otherwise. It forces me to sit down and blog it. I’ve loved getting to know Juliet and Elizabeth better- and many of you! To those new here, welcome! I hope to keep improving these little posts. Please feel free give feedback about the things you’d like to see more of, or less!
Well that’s my meanderings for this week now please go see what fun finds and ideas my friends Elizabeth and Juliet have for you..
Wishing you all a beautiful weekend.
Thank you for being here!
If you missed last week’s blog with some great baskets for outdoor plants, a wonderful lunch spot and shop in Woodside, an inspiring book about living well in your home by Melissa Penfold, and more you can read that post here.
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