Things have been a bit crazy here at the Ranchette lately, hence the neglect of this blog. But in the meantime I’ve been planning a big project for a little room. This house was built in 1963, so there’s not much hope of adding a Japanese ofuro or an enormous steam shower. My top priorities for this bath are that it be functional, that every component represents something I’ve always wanted, and that it be highly, highly cleanable. Since we moved in we’ve contended with a fiberglass shower stall and a glass/aluminum sliding shower door. The fiberglass is a sort of putty color with flecks of gold glitter in it, which is why I call it the Vegas shower. And like Las Vegas, it is perpetually dirty, both from 49 years of abrasive cleaners and the many unreachable crevices in the aluminum track. For seven years I have hated it, and I am finally doing something about it.
So first, here is my dream bath…Read More
I just returned from a trip to Big Bend with my family, where we hovered on the edges of canyons, picked prickly pear spines out of our hands, and took a guided tour of the constellations. If you’ve seen the photos coming from the Curiosity, you may understand the Big Bend experience. Just think Mars with slightly more vegetation.
My sister is somewhat obsessed with scorpions and other venomous* creatures. She brought a special scorpion-detecting lamp with her. And she bought this fantastic little guide called Spiders and Their Kin at the Big Bend outpost. So when we stopped at our old favorite, the Starlight Theater in Terlingua, Texas, who was she to resist their Stinger Margarita? (Terlingua is the site of a great ghost town, and the Starlight is an old theater that’s been converted into a restaurant and music venue.)
Unfortunately, having lived in Texas so long, most of our taste buds have been burned off by our overconsumption of chipotle peppers. She reported that the Stinger didn’t have much of a sting. The waiter told us that they used to serve them with a copper scorpion at the bottom of the glass, but they weren’t able to get them anymore, since “the border had closed.” (?!?) He also said that you could find a video about how to make them on YouTube. HELLO.Read More
We planted this peach tree about four years ago, but this is the first year that the fruit’s been worth anything. I have to admit I’ve been an agri-poseur of the highest order when it came to this peach tree. Contrary to my normal habits, I did zero research on the tree variety; I picked up a cheap little sapling from Lowe’s. I’ve failed to study how to properly care for the tree, I’ve never fertilized it, nor have I ever taken any pest-prevention measures. This is so not me. Maybe this post will shame me into being a better orchard-keeper, but it seems unlikely.Read More
I received this little sugar and creamer set from West Elm, and I really liked it, except for the bamboo tray and spoon. Or rather, did like those as well, just not in my house. I have an old teak Danish modern dining table made by Dux, which I love. This looks too… contemporary.Read More
Passalong plants are handed from one gardener to another, and they’re my favorite kind. It generally means that they’re resilient enough to take the Texas weather and they’ll thrive enough that someone has to actually get rid of them. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of dollars I’ve lost when my expensive Japanese aralias, hostas, heuchera, and hellebores have succumbed to drought. But all of the passalongs I’ve received are doing just fine. (Except for the ferns I plucked from my aunt’s house in Houston; it’s just not humid enough for them here.)
Texas is pretty dreadful for the type of gardens I prefer, but there is one flower that likes it here: irises. I’ve been daydreaming about a pathway lined with irises for about six months now, so I devised a little trick to get some for free. This works well for anything that you’d like to get for free, actually…Read More
Tomato plants from the feed store: $7.86
Compost and amendments to plant them in: I don’t even want to think about it.
It’s been about two years since we last successfully planted a vegetable garden. The year before last I decided to do away with conspicuous raised beds and incorporate the tomatoes and onions inteo our existing landscape. After all, the beds are full of expensive organic compost, so it should work. And it should be very French, on top of it. It didn’t work. Nor did it look at all French.Read More