August 11, 2011

corner of the kitchen

I keep dreaming about gardens.

While I'm sure the time will come when I miss having a house, in general, so far, I really don't. I miss my kitchen, I miss having walls painted the color I want them to be, but I can deal. I spent a few twitchy weekends coming down from the home renovation high I've been on for the past two years thinking I should paint every room in the apartment. But once the shakes wore off and I remembered that I could actually spend my down time doing something relaxing, like reading, I've decided that I should spend the time and money I have while we are here doing things that are here. And painting the dining room/schoolroom/office isn't one of those "while in New York" things I want to take away from this year. We'll see how long my resolve holds. I could change my mind this winter when it's too cold to do anything and I've been staring at the yellowy walls for weeks on end.

But I do miss my garden. Not the yard part. Having no ginormous yard to mow and a plethora of parks out there has convinced me that the no yard part of apartment living is a definite plus. but the vegetable garden, well, that I really do miss. If we were going to be here longer than a year I would take on a plot at one of the many community gardens dotted throughout the city, but the timing of when we arrived and when we leave makes that hard, almost ridiculous. So instead I have to be contented with a windowsill for my garden tending needs.
This is my spot. My little corner int he kitchen. In a small apartment with two kids running around building forts in the living room, robots in the office, train routes down the hall and dollhouse/ninja lego worlds (Evelyn's dolls are currently obsessed with watching ninjago battles it seems) this is my haven. I spend a lot of time sitting and rocking and reading and knitting and typing in this chair, with my plants. I'm sitting here now, as I write this and when you read this, later today or this week or this month, there's a good chance that, if I'm home, that's where I am. No one else really sits here but me. From here I can supervise playdoh or painting on the kitchen counter, listen in but not be overwhelmed by the goings on in the living room or chat with Will while he works in the office while not having to sit on a dining room chair. Or just read and rock.

I am slowly building up my plant collection for this corner, wanting to squeeze as much in as possible. I don't have any vegetables yet but I did have some herb plants that someone forgot to water while I was in Missouri, which now need to be replaced. I have to admit, I've been kind of babying these plants. With no garden to go dig in, they are receiving probably more focus than little house plants normally get, but there you are. I move them out to the fire escape on sunny days, kind of like the caged birds in the parks of China, so they can get some direct sunshine and fresh(ish) air. They aren't really technically house plants so I figure they need some outdoor time. And I made them some pretty pots to live in.

Finding pretty pots for plants is one of those "where in New York do I find.." kind of thing. I'm sure there are places out there where you can buy such a thing. There is, probably, a "beautiful pot store" somewhere in Manhattan. Because there always is. But I haven't found it yet. And even if I did, I probably couldn't bring myself to pay whatever exorbitant amount they want for pretty pots anyway. So instead I've been digging through our recycling bin and making planting containers whenever I pick up a new plant from the farmers market. Two are just spray painted coffee cans but there are also a few Modge Podged yogurt tubs as well with another planned for later this week when Evelyn finishes off her current container of yogurt. I'm picking up one of those replacement herb plants later today and it will need a home.

The combination of slightly angled sides and patterned paper made this a little tricky but the end result is pretty good, so I thought I'd share

First lay out a piece of 12x12 scrapbook paper. You want something fairly thin, thicker papers won't blend at the cuts as well. If you don't have 12x12 you'll need two 8x10's to cover a standard large yogurt container.
Measure the distance from the bottom of the thick top rim down to the bottom and add 1/2 inch. I tried this having it the exact length and with enough for an overlap and the overlap version looked better. Cut two strips that are this dimension by 12 inches. If your container is really tall, you might actually need two sheet of 12x12, you could also cut a piece from the scraps, you'll only need an additional few inches, but that will depend on the direction of the pattern on your paper.
Once you have your strips, cut up from the long side every two inches almost to the top, but not through.
Turn your container upside down and coat the side 1/3 of the way around with Modge Podge. With the still connected edge butted up against the brim of the container, smooth down the first two-inch section. As you move onto the next two inch section, keep the bottom edge butted firmly with that rim, you want that to be straight, and then use the cuts to overlap the paper as the container slopes in . Add a little extra Modge Podge where the paper overlaps. Continue until you have gone all the way around, adding Modge Podge and the second strip of paper as needed.
Cut the overlap of paper at the bottom (now face up) of the container into smaller strips, about 1/2 inch each, and smooth over the bottom the way you did the sides of the container.

Smooth out any bubbles under the paper and coat the whole thing with a coat or two of Modge Podge to seal. Keep checking for and smoothing out bubbles as it dries.

I would, ideally, like to fill up my fire escape with containers like ths of plants as well but this idea presents a few problems. 1) the Modge Podge isn't waterproof so the paper would just disintegrate anyway. 2) we are getting close to the end of the planting season so I'd have to either toss of move everything indoors in a few months anyway, and I don't have that much room and 3) Having a fire escape filled with plants is probably a fire hazard.

Ah well. Maybe if I ever get that behind the couch shelf I can fill that with plants too. Sturdier plants that can survive all the fort making and Wii sports and jumping on the couch that happens in there.
I'm curious, does anyone else have a spot that is just theirs? Where is it? What is it? A chair? A yoga mat? A whole room (heaven!).