Monday, April 19, 2010

Holy goat!

Interesting weekend. First of all we thought we were having Swedish guests and Swedish treats at the house but a volcano changed all that. So not cool. My parents never made it out of Sweden and I guess it's a relief that they are at home and safe. As of now they have rescheduled their flight for Sunday the 25th and we hope they can make it!

So James and I got right back on killen knot weed (Fallopia japonica). I'm using a garden fork that we bought for a dollar at a tag sale and I stick it into the big motherload stumps and pull them out like heads of Medusa. 

This is what you find under some rocks. Shudder. So gross.

But we have new allies in the knot weed war.

This is Sage. And that is not what she is paid to eat. There's knot weed right there and she is climbing around our Valborgs pile. (Short version: Valborg is April 30th in Sweden and we light big bonfires and sing songs to welcome spring.)

And this is Cinders. She was pretty focused on the knot weed but there was equal parts lawn consumed. What are you gonna do, cheap labor. 

And this is the knot weed field after an afternoon with our furry mowers. They can do some damage I tell ya. This picture must have been taken on day one of our experiment because on day 2 we had to add another cinder block for Cinders. 2 was easy enough for her to drag home. Sage only needed 1 block to keep her put but she must have ran to the end of her leash about 1000 times thinking "this time it might be longer". 

We kept a half eye on them because the entanglement possibilities were endless and if we tried to help out we got equally ensnared. Cinders almost took me out at least once by taking a swift lap around my legs with the leash and pulling taught. Then she rubs her head all over you. They're very social and nice to have around these creatures.

Florence has a third goat, Gaby, but she has a nervous condition and Florence couldn't get her to come over. When she gets stressed she goes stiff and falls over, she faints basically. We'll be sure to pick some knot weed and bring it over to Gaby and her sheep pals.

Florence brought us a mint plant. It found a home in a pot by the dining room window.

Our darling Dog Wood tree!!!

Azaleas in bloom. 1 pink, 1 white, 2 red bushes.

We are so focused on KILLIN and massacreing  that we have overlooked planting and bringing new things in to the garden (except for some random grass seed that we spread a few weeks ago... it was a stoopid city folk thing to do and it's mostly just feeding the birds I think...). 

Rosemary's little painting made us think though. She has painted in two bushes at the foot of the porch stairs and it changes everything. Why couldn't we just do that? It would hide a bunch of uglyness and help the front of the house get nice. 

So this weekend I found myself at Lowes buying a pot for our new mint plant and saw this Dappled Willow bush. It said on the tag that it likes morning sun and that is what's best about our front porch! It seemed meant to be.

Uh... hmmm... 

Yeah exactly - click on the picture to enlarge.... More than ever... But they'll come around!

We cooked burgers on the grill and for a Sunday treat I made kladd kaka for the first time in 20 years. It's like a Swedish brownie and it's like delicious and too easy to make.

Beat 2 eggs with 1 1/3 cup sugar.

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 table spoon vanilla extract

Stir together and finally add - YES! 1 STICK OF MELTED BUTTER!

Put in a buttered pan and bake for 40 minutes at 300˚.

Once every 20 years or so it's OK to make one and just eat it up between 2 people. We ate and watched Lost In Translation for the the 100th time and it's still pretty magical. Now we want to keep the magical mood and Harold and Maude is on the marquee for next weekend. Followed by Tillsammans (Together). MMMMmmmmmm

All pics were taken with my phone in this post so pardon the image quality. But I had fun with them in the app camerabag to make them a little more special. 

Tills vidare!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Polls are open and we are now accepting bets on the following.

What colors will these Azaleas turn out to be? We know we got a pink bush and red bush, but 3 of them are still wild cards. 

We invited Florence's goats to a knot weed party. Will they love it or hate it? 

And  finally - how many times will my 6'3 father hit his head on the doorway to the room that he and my mom are occupying for the next 3ish weeks. They arrive on friday and the counting will begin. 1 JÄVLAR*! 2 JÄVLAR! 3 JÄVLAR....


Rosemary painted this little beauty for us! There is so much to do on the outside of the house and looking at it feels very daunting. We get blinded and can't see what it will one day look like and this picture just opened our eyes. It's our house - but prettier! And one day we will get there. Thank you Rosemary for putting it all  in perspective.

Click on the picture to enlarge it - and you should because it is lovely!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Alien take over

It was another weekend of working in the yard. We filled a dumpster and finally got the last garbage pile off the front lawn. We have been focusing on the south gable also known as Tom's side. He's our neighbor and if he only knew how much we care about what he cares about, he would be very honored. Our house needs some work, OK it needs a lot of work and we think our neighbors know we are doing our best to fix it up and not be such an eyesore. And some simple yard work helps a big long way. This is Tom's side after some raking and cleaning. The star magnolia is in full bloom and this pic was taken right at sunset and the house doesn't look half bad. 

I had a little too much time on my hands and drew up the changes to come in Photoshop.

There will be a new door, one window will go away because that is where the tub will go and we are replacing the little rounded attic vents for windows. We are also painting the house and finishing the trim. All in good time. All in good time. 

So this guy lives in our laundry room. We are going to get a have-a-heart trap and evict him pretty soon cause he makes a bit of a racket in there, but I've been alright with him so far. But the other day we caught him in the act just being a little too greedy. Or he's got his calender all wrong and is stocking up for winter.

I mean can you stuff more seed in there buddy! Relax and leave some for BIRDS. Being that it's BIRD SEED. Cheeky bugger. Plenty of pun intended.

A new favorite sparrow - the chipper! He's a tiny little fella.

This pretty little lady is a female cowbird. You wouldn't know she's the Medea of birds by looking at her. 

When it comes to Grackles we are making it up as we go along. Like is this guy a gal? Why is your head green all of a sudden? 

Aaaahhhh, what a nice surprise! A red azalea growing right next to our patio. 

Oh my lord and word. This knot weed sh*t is giving a whole new meaning to "grow like a weed."

It's a full on alien take over in our back yard. These suckers have grown a foot and a half in 4 days. Grrrrrrr....

We have no way of killing them, the root system is so crazy intricate that napalm seems to be the only solution. 

For now we kick them. Clip them. Stomp them. Spray them and hoe them. Just so we don't have to look at them.

Lovely spring colors in Blue Jay land.

For Sale!

This post will only interest a very small portion of my readers. Namely the ones with half a million dollars laying around to spend on an upstate dwelling. I'm crushing hard on these 2 houses for sale on Old Route 299 in New Paltz but I'm guessing they are worth a pretty penny. 

This one has been on the market for a while. Looks like it could have some serious property in the back. 

This one just came up for sale. Gorgeous tree lined property!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thank you!

I thought I was rambling on about fish stick tacos, fat robins and mega super duper demolition to no one in particular. I thought little Maple Ave Gazette was James' and my time capsule and journal to look back upon tomorrow and 5 years from now. We already do actually and so much has happened since september. I always knew I had some loyal readers, my dueling Clintondale blog compadres down the street x2, my sister, my parents and Rosemary. 

But today I got 2 people with ZERO connection to each other (a drive by neighbor and James' favorite uncle) saying they read my blog and I was just delighted! Thank You!!! 

Now I would love to hear from you! 

To say hello, take a hike, keep it up, "now try my banana bread", "you guys are out of your minds taking on that house" or anything that's on your mind go to the bottom of the post and write your words of wisdom or just incoherent midnight ramblings in the comment box. Then pick an identity from the pull down menu (where it says: comment as). You don't have to have a google account to comment, just scroll down to anonymous and then just sign your name at the bottom of your post. If you want me to know who you are... You can also choose name/URL and just put your name in the box that pops up. It doesn't matter if you don't have a URL.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Backyard beauties

We know that when you open a business it's all about location location location. We took over the very successful bird feeder franchise in front of the dining room window from the precious owner. We really had no idea what a gold mine we were sitting on. The clientele is very versatile and loyal and comes from all over. We easily go through a feeder a week. We thought we would capitalize on the success and branch out to a lesser known area, over by the kitchen window. If you want to make it in this business you gotta have cojones, right. So we bought a new feeder, filled her up and waited. Not a bird in sight. But I know that the most gentrified areas of Brooklyn were once industrial wastelands and they will come. Sooner or later, they will come. It starts with the starving artists and the hipsters follow. As a marketing ploy I spread some seed on the ground. And check it out:

When we showed up on saturday morning the new feeder was empty. I wonder what the first bird who discovered it thought. Probably the same thing I thought when I first moved to the Williamsburg area in the mid 90's - OMG how do I keep this secret to myself. 

A lot happened in the yard while we were away this week. (Lots happened in the city too -  it was doc week for Linda. I worked on a documentary about FDR right across the river at his home on tuesday and wed-thurs was a documentary about Fran Lebowits directed by Martin Scorsese. He hung out with us on a balcony for an hour or so while shooting Fran peeking her head out at 6 o'clock on the Grand Central Station clock.

Marty was very dapper and jovial but there's unfortunately no real story here. My story of the day was when Lisa the DP and I were in the back of Fran's old checker cab with a camera driving through Times Square at night. She is an old school driver alright and was laying on the horn cursing everyone else on the road. It was a little scary but mostly just hilarious.

So back to what happened on Maple Ave...

This is the flower bed outside the dining room that we uncovered a week ago. Just in time!

This is the kitty cat bud tree in full bloom. Aaaahhhhhh.... 

It smells amazing! I would love some ID help with it!

This is the next tree to go.

And the chestnut.

This tree has unfortunately split down the middle, probably happened in the big storm, and most of the buds have died, but I'm following this one closely. If we can at least get one flower.

We needed to try our home brew to make sure we are on the right track. It should still age for another 2 weeks but we wanted a sneak peak.

The author enjoys a 2 week old Fat Robin Pilsner.

And you know what - we got beer. It's already pretty tasty. 

Today was yard work and fish tacos. I totally cheated and used fish stick for filling, just fried them up in a lot of oil in the pan. We love fish sticks over here so that was hardly a negative. For fixins I marinated cabbage in vinegar and lime juice and some salt and pepper. And cut up some tomatoes and red onion. And then this sauce:

1/2 cup plain non fat yougurt
1/2 cup mayo
juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp  ground coriander
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp minced capers (kapris)
1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Mix it all together and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. Darn good. We sat outside on the patio and drank Micheladas with the meal. !Muy Bueno¡