Black & Blue #1

Space Illustrations

From the book ‘All About the STARS’ by Anne Terry White published by Random house in 1954. 

Illustrations by Melvin Bilek.

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I love how simple and deeply pigmented these illustrations are.  This book is sixty-three years old and was published before the first moon walk in 1969.

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Even though the science is a touch outdated, these images still stir up wonder and amazement .

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Impressive sparkling celestial images using only two colors and the white of the page.

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Right now my favorite image is of the eclipse below.  Oregon received many visitors this year being in the path of totality.

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Plant Babies

For the first time maybe EVER I know that I can keep plants alive.  I have succulents and cacti that I’ve had for over two years.  I can’t stop buying plants and now that we’re moving into fall I’m hoping these new guys survive. Here are some pictures of the new guys and  a few memories from my plant journey.

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Calla Lily

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Tropic Canna Lily and Vrisea “Cherlette”

I was one of the students in my middle school made responsible for the greenhouse. Before or during our lunch break it was our job to water the many houseplants, ferns, forgotten science projects and tropical trees.  These already struggling plants were placed under the care of clueless inner-city kids during the particularly harsh Missouri winter of my seventh grade year and many did not make it.  Over-watering.

After the Lincoln Middle School Plant Massacre, I told myself that I was just totally challenged at all things plant related.  I watched my mother attempt and fail many times at growing anything in the Missouri red clay soil surrounding our house. Sometimes a random cluster of neglected marigolds survived in the front yard but that was about it.  I never really attempted house plants or a garden until I was about 25.  It was grown over by weeds but we still harvested some delicious radishes and cucumbers.

Five years ago, I moved into my first apartment in Portland and I received two house warming plants an orchid and some sort of GMO flower from Fred Myers.  The orchid lasted almost exactly four months and then I watered it to death.  The restaurant I was co-managing at that same time had great big indoor trees and small succulents on every table.  The tallest and most beautiful tree in that place was getting watered once a week by me at the owners request.  A few months into this routine, the tree looked pathetic, almost dead.  It had to my fault I thought.  I had no idea that the bus boys were emptying water pitchers into the soil at the end of the night, the florist responsible for the living arrangement was watering it bi-weekly.  The tree survived but could have suffered root rot under those conditions, and became a very expensive mistake.  They had to repot a massive, massive plant, it was so sad.

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Shelfie.  Cactus, Snake plant, Vrisea and my Jade.

Watch for Plant Shelfie Update later this fall.

Secret Chapel

Earlier this year we went to Amsterdam for a few nights and stayed in a hidden chapel.  Built in 1751, this unique air bnb was converted from a secret church into a romantic hideaway. I hope you enjoy the photos.

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Tiny door between buildings takes you to a private alley.  I Love the way the old architecture sways,

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The most beautiful ceiling I’ve slept under.

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Spooky illuminati eye on the room centerpiece.  I’ve never stayed in a more beautiful room.

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Centerpiece above the bed, photographs do not do this justice.

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Vintage Children’s Books

I visit second hand shops bi-weekly and almost always find items that fit seamlessly with the items already in my home.  Giving a second life to items that people no longer wanted makes shopping second hand such a rewarding hobby.  I can’t leave behind a good find just because I can’t find an immediate use for it in my life and I grow small collections of like items over time.

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I find that most educational children’s books from the 1950’s have incredible art work on the covers and within.  Even though some of the scientific captions are inaccurate in 2017, there is a wealth of information in these guides usually with sweet and detailed illustrations of the subject matter.

I’m saving my personal copies of Golden Guides and children’s learning books from the 50’s for myself and future children.  Anyone who has a love for science and nature will see the value in preserving these charming books and referencing them often.

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I like to keep and eye out for duplicates, sometimes they are in better shape than the ones I currently have.  Books missing critical pages or covers make great gifts for vintage paper enthusiast and collage makers as these illustrations are perfect for art projects and thoughtful stationary.  I purchase these books from thrift and antique shops as well as  directly from Etsy  and online sellers.

You can find a great collection of books and paper goods on my own etsy shop:

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and see whats new and coming up at the shop on Instagram @blackwellhabit

 

Salted Honey Pie

This is an awesome early spring dessert and uses 3/4 cup honey, you can use store bought but I highly recommend going to your local honey purveyors and finding out what sort of variety is available in your area. For example, a buckwheat honey is dark brown in color, thick in consistency and tastes similar to molasses.  No matter what honey you use, know that this pie is very, very, sweet and basically a sugar pie or heavy custard.  You can use your own butter crust recipe for the shell.  I like to garnish with great big hand harvested salt flakes.

Preheat 350°

Ingredients:

  • Butter, 1/2 cup, melted
  • White Sugar, 3/4 cup
  • White Cornmeal, 2 tbs.
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp
  • Honey, 3/4 cup
  • Eggs, 3 large
  • Heavy Cream, 1/2 cup
  • White Vinegar, 2 tsp
  • Vanilla Paste, 1 tsp
  • Maldon or Hand Harvested Salt Flakes for garnish

  1. Using a mixer, combine Sugar, Salt, Cornmeal and butter to make paste.
  2. Add honey, Vanilla Paste and Vinegar – mix
  3. Fold in eggs and blend in cream
  4. Pour into shell
  5. Bake 45-60 minutes
  6. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour

Squash with Balsamic, Honey & Feta

 

This dish was an instant favorite at a Canadian Friends-giving a few years back.  James and I get TWO Thanksgivings every year, we are SO lucky!  Traditional dishes for this occasion come in lots of different shades of beige, this Squash salad adds color to the table.  This is an easy vegetarian side to make that can be served hot or cold and travels well so it’s perfect for potlucks and family style sharing.  It has well balanced sweet and savory components that you find in Sweet Potato casseroles and Bread puddings.

Ingredients:

  • Butternut or Acorn Squash, peeled and cubed
  • Olive Oil, 1 tbs
  • Sesame seeds, 2 tbs
  • Honey, 3 tbs
  • Balsamic, 1 tbs
  • Chili Flake, 1/2 tsp
  • Feta, 2 ounces, crumbled
  • S & P, to taste

  1. Toss cubed Squash in Olive Oil and distribute evenly on sheet tray
  2. Bake 20 minutes at 410°, remove and toss with sesame seeds.
  3. Bake additional 10 minutes
  4. In a serving dish drizzle Honey, Balsamic, Feta and Chili flakes over roasted Squash
  5. S & P, serve hot or cold.

Chimichurri

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Mint-Basil Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a Central/South American sauce for grilled meats traditionally made from parsley and oregano.  We used large amounts of Mint and basil, add more red chili flakes if you like. I was able to freeze the excess for future meals. Chimichurri loosely translates as “a mixture of several things in no particular order”, this sauce goes great with Lamb, Beef and Pork.


Ingredients:

Mint, 2 cups packed

Basil, 1 cup packed

Olive Oil, 9 tbs

1/2 Lemon, juiced

red chili flakes, 1/2 tsp

salt, tsp

red wine vinegar, 2 +1/2 tsp


 Easy preparation. Combine ingredients and puree.  Should resemble a pesto.

Yard Goals

We spent most of last year observing each season and what kinds of plants and wildlife were present/absent.  Now that we have a basic idea what kind of plants are already here we can plan on removing/replacing the ones that don’t belong.  Time to begin plotting out details for zones we began last spring and work towards completing them by Fall 2017

We can keep pulling back the invasive ivy cover outside of the backyard fence and give that area some time to breathe (see whats dormant in that soil in the following seasons) while we work inside and close to the fence and front yard.  About 85% of the area inside the fence (J) is free of invasive plants, however there are huge piles on cemented parts of the yard where we were allowing vines to die completely/dry out before removing them.  There are also a lot of vines creeping in from the fence line so we need to maintain and fine comb the area removing ivy and blackberry thats come back using hand tools

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A few of my VERY FIRST tools; loppers, handsaws and a hand spade are great for ivy removal.

Section E, the flower bed in the back yard was a jungle, there was just SO much going on in that soil, tons of crazy root systems and plants we couldn’t identify. I covered this area  with a dark tarp and weighed it down.  This will cut off oxygen and sunlight to whatever the hell is in there, I’ll check this spring to see what I can remove by hand and cover it up again.  Maybe in a year or more we can amend the soil and grow some roses or veggies in the raised bed.

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There is more yard on the other side of the garbage storage that needs invasive plant removal and some rose bush maintenance.

 

This spring I want to:

Install nest boxes.

To preserve and enhance terrain transitions with stone and gravel, creating paths.

Create a hedgerow to block view of highway in section M.

Bring in stone and mulch to frame established trees, shrubs and ferns.

Stake trees.

Determine soil PH in section C and J.

Record a sun map.

Create Mason Bee housing in far corner of section J.

Plant tall grasses and shrub to protect Mason Bee and bug housing from pets.

Bring in gravel for front yard in front of section A & B.