News from the Nest, February 27
I hope you are coming off a lovely weekend! It was both a busy and recuperative weekend for me.
We enjoyed such gorgeous, sunny, and warm weather for most of last week, and I found it impossible not to get out and work in the yard. It was sheer bliss trimming back the woody stems of perennials and seeing the new growth peek up from under the mulch. It was not sheer bliss trimming the twenty-plus yaupon holly in our yard, but it needed to be done. I planted the sweet peas that I started indoors (fingers crossed) and some herbs I picked up when we were in Florida.
Which reminds me! Are you familiar with culantro? If you like cilantro (I know that not everyone does), you must find some culantro. This little plant, which looks nothing like cilantro, is a cousin of cilantro and (most importantly) will grow in the heat of summer when cilantro just can’t. But it is a shade-loving plant, so you must keep it out of the sun, or it will bolt. Culantro will also return for several years, while cilantro is pretty much an annual. Culantro is a little bolder tasting than cilantro and will stand up to the heat of cooking when cilantro can’t. So, if you do like cilantro, you need to see if you can find its heat- and shade-loving bolder cousin!
Anywho, all this wonderful time spent in the yard meant I didn’t spend much time working on the blog last week. So luckily, Saturday dawned cold and rainy, the perfect day to spend indoors writing! It’s a good thing I shared my content calendar with Mother Nature!
new on the blog
- This is a timely new post! We discuss Garden Maintenance broken down into suggested daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal tasks. You can print off this general guide as a reminder of these garden tasks. The second page of the printable is a Fertilizing + Pruning Log, which is something we went way too long without. Spend some downtown documenting what to fertilize and when to prune your plants, making it much easier to maintain your garden throughout the year.
- This Carrot Bread is lovely any time of the year but a nice treat for Spring and Easter brunches. Twenty minutes of prep time and then into the oven!
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from the knit studio
The most basic single crochet is all you need to create the border of this linen throw. This was one of my very first crochet projects six years ago, and this throw still remains a favorite light throw during the warmer months.
from the kitchen
This flavorful and creamy hummus is easy to make in either the instant pot or on the stovetop. A smoky and spicy walnut topping makes this hummus appetizer just that much more delicious!
These fiber cookies are a great way to increase your fiber intake but in a not gritty, sludgy way. And flavored with orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla, they actually taste good! Make up a large batch as they freeze well.
from the arts + crafts studio
Bright green moss is such a harbinger of spring! Even if spring hasn’t fully arrived or even started the journey in your neck of the woods, you can still make your indoor space fill springy! Maybe Spring will take a hint! These moss balls were easy to make and will surely add some Spring-Zing to your home. I actually keep them out year-round in my grandmother’s milk glass urns.
Here are some other ideas to bring Spring indoors. Growing grass in teacups indoors is just such a fun thing to do when nothing is growing outside.
Here’s one more ‘garden-y’ craft for you! To keep this project on the cheap, you’ll want to start checking your local Goodwill or Re-Store for round glass globes. I was shocked that it took me so long to find some, so be on the lookout. These concrete garden orbs were on my to-do list for so long and now that I have two of them, I want more! I’m all about lawn art, little unexpected inanimate objects to tuck in between plants, and these orbs fit that bill perfectly.
Those of us ‘of a certain age’ remember the Macramé craze of some years ago. Well, it’s back! But this time, let’s use a thin wire and some beads to create lovely Macramé Wire Votive Holders.
Use your favorite rope, yarn, ribbon, thread, etc…to make your own tassels with wooden beads.
If you can do a French knot in embroidery, you can embroider this monogram pillow! And if you don’t know the French knot yet, you’ll be a master at when you finish this pillow. It’s the perfect in-front-of-the-t.v. project! This project was one of my first as a blogger, and I’m a tad mortified at the video to show how to do the French Knot, but luckily I was wise enough to share an outside source for a better explanation.
house + home
- Know anyone setting up their first apartment? Make sure to nab this First Apartment Checklist.
- I store all my dried beans in glass jars, but some of the jars have narrow mouths, making it difficult to get a scoop or measuring cup in. I’ve had my eye on these jars for a while, and they are now discounted. I think I’ll be getting three of the large ones. They have great reviews, so I’ll let you know.
on my nightstand
Many of you have written that you enjoy and appreciate my ‘book reviews’ (if you can call them that!) I always struggle with not giving too much away and am also cognizant that my likes are not everyone else’s likes.
I am doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge again this year. Last year I read thirty books, and this year upped it to thirty-three. So with that said, here’s what I’ve read thus far in 2023 and my quick and dirty review with one to five thumbs-up.
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 Wow, where to begin with this one? It’s a quick read, but it doesn’t feel quick. There is very little ‘feel good’ in the book, which is not a reason not to read it. McCarthy’s spare prose puts you right in the midst of this post-apocalyptic world, where, despite the suffocating hopelessness, a father and son still find hope. McCarthy does such a phenomenal job putting you in that world that one morning after I had read it the night before, I was slightly startled to hear birdsong.
- Howard’s End by E.M. Forster 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 On the other end of the prose spectrum, this was an at times humorous and at times somber satire of the social strata of early 20th century England. I had never watched the movie before and followed the book by watching the Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson movie. The movie takes very few liberties, following the book closely.
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 When I was describing this book to my mom, I read the first paragraph of the book jacket and remarked, “not sure why I choose to read something that sounds so depressing, but I’m glad I did.” It is a historical fiction based on the last beheading in Iceland in the early 19th century. Kent does a brilliant job with her prose of placing you in the stark and merciless world of Iceland at that time. We know how the story ends before it begins, but it is the way that the tale of our protagonist, Agnes, unravels that will keep you totally immersed in the book. It is a rare day that I take time during the middle of the day to sit down with a book, which I did with this one over the weekend. It is haunting, yet somehow lovely at the same time.
- Brain Maker by David Perlmutter 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 A little non-fiction intermission! I am interested in gut health and how it affects our entire body. If this area interests you too, you’ll find this book enlightening. The bottom line, we are what we eat.
- Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 Oh my heavens, I am on a roll! I’m afraid to say that out loud for fear of jinxing myself, but this was another gorgeous book! This book is meant to be savored; it is not a page-turner. O’Farrell has an incredibly poetic way with words that creates lush and melodic prose. This is ostensibly the story of Shakespeare, his wife Agnes, and their young son, Hamnet, who died from the plague. I say, ‘ostensibly’ because while Shakespeare is never named, you know it is him. And it is less about Shakespeare and more about his wife, her interests, her passions, and their relationship before, during, and after the death of their only son. Once again, I enjoyed this book so much that I reserved several more of her books from the library.
- The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼.5 There is no ‘half a thumbs up’ emoji…hence the .5. The only reason this is a 4.5 is that I don’t want to be too generous with the 5 thumbs to lose my credibility, and compared to Hamnet, it wasn’t quite as lovely. All that said, it is still a good book! Once again, not a page-turner but a slow unveiling of the relationship between two women of two different eras.
- And I’m about a third of the way through The Good People by Hannah Kent. Like her Burial Rites, this is based on true events. This time the story is set in early 19th century Ireland amongst a group of people struggling with poverty and a hardscrabble life. From what I can tell so far, this is a superstitious community that looks to place blame its difficulties on a child suffering from some physical/mental illness. Unless someone new comes up, the three main protagonists are women; the grandmother of the young child, her servant, and an older woman who deals in herbal remedies and knows the magic of The Good People (the fairies).
And thanks to all of you who have sent book recommendations! A diminishing stack of books on my nightstand is one of those things that cause a tad of anxiety for me. So, I so appreciate your suggestions! Keep ’em coming.
Well friends, let’s hope we have cooler, less inviting weather so I can get some stuff done on the blog this week! Until next week,
Hi Lynn. I so enjoy your book recommendations as you seem to like the ones I do, so your suggestions are always welcome. Here are a few of mine, some older, so you may have already read them.
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
The Spoon Stealer, Lesley Crewe
What Strange Paradise, Omar El Akkad
The Finder, Will Ferguson
The White Bone, Barbara Gowdy
The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell (excellent but not for the faint hearted)
The Red Tent, Anita Diamanté.
Keep the suggestions coming and good luck with your reading challenge
Thanks so much Margery! I just looked up The Sparrow and have added it to my queue, solely based on your ‘faint-hearted’ note! 😂 Not sure what that says about me. I have read Book Thief, Bel Canto and the Red Tent and liked them all! I’m a huge fan of Ann Patchett’s works. The others are all new to me, which is very exciting! A bit like opening a treasure box! Thanks so much, and I’ll keep sending my reviews.
Have a fantastic day!
beautiful email… jam packed with wonderful things,thank you for your hard wok and taking the time to putit all together.
My question is,do you think when the carrot bread is about lukewarm,putting cream cheese icing on it and letting it melt to a glaze wb great.i think too thick a frosting would take away from this great recipe.
thank you,love your book reviews too.
Thanks so much for your kind words! 🥰
I love the idea of a cream cheese glaze and think your idea is spot on. I’d just make it on the thin side. I was tempted to do it but wanted to keep it a simple recipe. Let me know how it turns out!
I like carrot cake but I would have to eat the whole cake, so this carrot bread sounds great. I have never tried to make hummus, which is another food I like. The teacup you have used in your newsletter is very pretty.
I’m just like you with desserts! I give my desserts away so that I don’t eat them. In fact, I ended up sharing my last carrot bread loaf with my neighbors and my mom because it would have been quickly consumed had I left it in our home!
I think you’ll find the hummus recipe very easy! I like that I can customize it…I don’t like a lot of garlic, so I can go light on it to suit me. And it freezes well.
That pretty teacup belonged to one of my grandmas. I agree, it is so pretty and I love it with the grass growing in it.
Thanks for writing in! Have a great day.