Sunday, August 10, 2014

I should have done this years ago: grouting the mosaic

It has been three years since I started my mosaic project on the garage. The first time I posted on it was August 6, 2011. It is embarrassing that it has taken this long to start on the grouting of the tile. I finished one side of tile work a couple years ago and it has sat, without grout. This year several tiles started falling off so I figured it was about time I get off my butt and finish this thing. 
Mixing  and applying the grout per the manufacturers instructions was simple enough. This is the first time I've grouted anything and it was an easy project. Easy is a relative term though. It still took time and I still needed to pay careful attention to what I was doing to make sure all of the joints were properly filled. After filling, you wipe it down with a wet sponge, ring it out, wipe again, repeat and repeat and repeat... until it is clean. Paying attention to the removal of the excess grout was also important. It was tedious but somewhat therapeutic.   
The result is great. The detail in the tile seems to pop a bit now and the shapes and design seem more refined. After I finished the damp wipe-down, I went over the entire thing with a dry rag to remove any excess dust.  
This has given me renewed interest in finishing this project. Sadly, the garden-side of the garage doesn't look half as good as the pergola side of the garage. It faces south and suffers from a lot of pealing paint. I also didn't take much care in adhering all of the trip boards to the substrate. I ended up spending a day screwing the boards back in securely and sanding all of the areas where paint came off. I hope to get another coat of paint on it today and start to complete the rest of the mosaic work.  

Friday, August 01, 2014

Summer Garden Photos

It has been an odd gardening year at the Tiny Bungalow. I haven't had much time to devote to keeping things up but luckily, the weather has cooperated and things have been both cool and wet. That has kept the flowers in nice shape for most of the season. I am hoping I can do some more work on expanding the front beds and also clean up and expand the plantings in the back. I guess time will tell. Until then, I am just going to enjoy the blooms.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Year's Garden

After a long and hard winter, the fist of the spring blooms are starting to show their colors. The winter took its toll on the foxgloves. Many are dead or stunted. Hopefully they will eventually bounce back. Two pleasant surprises are the lupines and the wisteria. Both look and smell great. 

I planted the lupines two years ago and though I got part of a flower last year, this is the first year I've gotten multiple blooms. They really look great. I am very happy with the wisteria I planted last year too. I chose an amethyst falls variety and it weathered the winter well and has more than tripled in size.  

I have much work to do to get the yard in order. Not winterizing last year does not help at all. Hopefully there will be more to come as the summer approaches.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Makin' Gnocchi

When you are going to take on a dinner party for more than four and you promise home-made gnocchi, it is good to have a lot of hands on deck. Gnocchi is relatively easy to make but the process is a little long.

I begin by baking potatoes. Roughly a half of a large russet potato per person should work. I did six large ones. You then rice them and then sift in, lightly tossing after each cup, three cups of unbleached all purpose flour. After it is tossed, it should start to come together to form a dough.

The dough then gets formed into a small ball and then rolled out, like a snake, about 1/2" in diameter (even thinner, if you like). The snake is then cut into 3/4" sections and then rolled down the gnocchi board to give it grooves. You can also do this with a fork.  

We had a full assembly line going and lots of hands on the groove-making. I think that everyone enjoyed it, for the first half-hour, at least.

Because we had so many hands at work on them, the result looked like a collection of sea shells. It was very cool.

After my minions relieved themselves of their duties, I made another batch of ricotta gnocchi on my own. For this batch, I used 1 1/2 cups of ricotta, four egg yolks and just over a cup of flour. I also put a dash of nutmeg in them. These came out a little more uniform in shape and size.

Gnocchi get boiled until they float to the top of the water and then sauteed in the sauce of your choice. I made three sauces tonight. One was a pesto cream, another was a pink sauce made with cream added to a red sauce base with pork and fennel. For the ricotta gnocchi, I made an Alfredo with a little nutmeg.

The gnocchi were very tasty. I liked the ricotta the best but the favorite for everyone else was the potato gnocchi in the pink sauce.