Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kale Update, Blog Update

Hi friends,

Two months ago I told you about planting your garden for the cool, late spring we were having back then, and I showed you the baby kale plants we had just transplanted. With temperatures in Madison hovering around 85 degrees this week, that definitely feels like a long time ago.

Well, I've posted an update on those little kale plants, now big kale plants, over at my new internet home,, where I'm keeping a little project log. There's a super-easy recipe for kale chips over there, too, in case you feel like having a snack (I know I do).

Please go check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Unexpected Pops of Patchwork

Like a lot of my fellow design-obsessed twenty-somethings, I go a little crazy for modern decor and super-clean lines. Although I love a good color blocking, I've never been a huge fan of quilting and patchwork. Don't get me wrong, I really admire the skill, patience and craftsmanship that go into intricate, multicolored patchwork pieces, but they often feel a little too precious or whimsical for my taste.

Not so with these pieces, which fuse handcrafted charm and sleek, elegant design, and would blend beautifully into a mid-century home. Best of all, by bringing patchwork out of the context of the quilt, these objects pack the power to surprise and inspire.

The first time I saw the Caitlin Chair by B+Y Design, my opinion of patchwork changed. The refined color palette and careful mixing of textures work beautifully with that playful but structured geometric pattern. I saw this about a year ago, and since then I've been imagining this motif on every chair in my house.

This room, featured in House to Home magazine, showcases gorgeous textiles from Vanderhurd in a patchwork pattern that mimics a mosaic and add instant depth to the room. Here again, the color and pattern choices are impeccable and play really nicely together to give a very streamlined look. That incredible chandelier from Habitat doesn't hurt, either.

This charming card from Etsy shop HereMyDear makes me just swoon. The font! The little stiches! The sentiment! I would definitely shy away from this mix of floral prints in a traditional quilt, but the crisp capital letters and even spacing keep it neat and fresh. I love it, and it's available in red or blue colorways.

Julian Louie collaborated with Aldo on these patchwork ikat wedges, and I love the look. I have to admit that these are just a pinch too high for me, but they're so much fun and definitely unexpected. And at $125 at Aldo, they're also pretty affordable.

Finally, patchwork is the perfect medium to fulfill a little digital nostalgia. Check out this pixelated pillow from Flickr user Voodoorabbit -- so sweet, simple and fun.

What do you think? What fresh takes on traditional crafts pique your interest?

Images: as linked above.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Plants for a late Spring: Finding the Right Crops for your Cool-Weather Garden

Tiny pepper sprouts will have to wait to be planted outside.

Here in Wisconsin, we've been experiencing a woefully late Spring. But the fear of a April or May frost need not keep gardeners indoors -- plenty of plants love the cool spring weather, and even thrive when the temperature dips unexpectedly.

So for those eager to get outside and start digging, here are a few hardy vegetables that you can plant early without fear.

This baby kale plant has begun to develop a rich gradient from lush green to deep purple.


With its renowned antioxidant properties, varied colors, and great versatility in the kitchen, kale is easily one of my favorite vegetables to grow. Though it can thrive all summer, kale's rich, nutty flavor actually sweetens with a frost, making it a perfect choice for spring and fall gardens.

Pea vines can be added to a springtime salad for a sweet change of pace.

Who doesn't love snacking on peas right off the vine? Crisp and refreshing, peas also handle the cooler temperatures with ease. Depending on the variety, they can be grown low to the ground or on a pole or trellis - perfect for apartment-dwellers who might be short on space. The best part? Many varieties can be ready for harvest in 60 days or fewer.

Originally evolving from cabbage, another great cold-weather crop, broccoli can happily withstand a little frost. In fact, it should be planted about a month before the last frost (in Wisconsin, our average last frost is May 10). With its excellent nutritional value, including helping in the prevention of cancer and heart disease, broccoli is a smart and tasty way to start your garden early.

As an onion grows, it sends up one shoot for each layer of the bulb.

Though onions prefer soil temperatures around 50 degrees and higher, they can survive with soil temperatures down to 36 degrees. Many varieties need long hours of daylight to produce bulbs, so be sure to place them in a sunny spot. Whenever you're ready, you can eat them as spring onions, or wait until they've matured to slice 'em up.

Of course, these are just the beginning. What other cool-weather crops round out your springtime garden?