Monday, August 31, 2015


the view from the "back bed" :: crispy dead :: living in pots :: hydrangea turning :: thirsty

We've been completely parched here. So much so that where we used to have some struggling grass, we now have big patches of sand. Even the trees are wilted and one of the viburnums I put in the new "back bed" has died - crispy dead.

The back bed is a spot behind some privacy "fence" between us and the neighbors. We aren't quite sure why the previous owner put it on and angle, but it makes a spot on the other side of it that we own but is disused. It is actually on the front side of the house. It gets pretty good afternoon sun, as much as one can expect for being in the woods, and I felt it was the perfect spot for big shrubs that make birds happy but aren't necessarily something we can put against the house. So far there is a viburnum, a chokecherry and where the other viburnum died, I will put a purpleleaf sand cherry. In between are some native daylilies, coral bells, and ornamental grasses that were all just transplants from other existing beds.

We still have a handful of bushes, berry plants and flowers that need to go in the ground. To put them there now would be murder on both our backs and the poor plants, so they sit in the driveway and get watered by the hose, awaiting their turn in the dig-compost-bury-compost-water-water-water routine.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kitchen notes

I got the kitchen window opened for the first time this week - I woke up yesterday and it was 65F outside! It felt wonderful to have the misty morning breeze coming into the kitchen, though really I should keep it all shut up because of the humidity. Welcome to the tropics (not really, but really).

I have done a bit of real cooking this week. I am struggling to get a routine down to have dinner on the table at a reasonable time. I also failed at my menu plan this week. Think those two problems are connected?

I did get some "real" cooking done this week, but didn't take many photos. I fried our first okra from this garden and made BLTs on homebaked bread. Above you'll see the dirty rice {recipe} that was dinner one night and lunch two days. The blondies recipe is the best I've ever tried and the only one I will use. It is sinful, but I will share the diabetes love anyway. And pah-leese, don't go substituting applesauce instead of butter or leaving out the nuts, just bake it the way it says to.

Suzi's Blondies 

2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Combine these ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to incorporate.

2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. butter, melted

Combine these ingredients in ANOTHER mixing bowl. Stir, stir.

Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients, folding in until just moist throughout. Fold in 3/4 cup each chocolate chips and nuts of your choice. Pour batter into greased 9x13 pan, sprinkle top with another generous handful of nuts and chocolate chips. Toffee bits, coconut and other things do nicely here. THIS is the part where you can improvise. Bake in 350F oven for 25-30 minutes or until edges are crispy-chewy and center is done but not overbaked.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yarn Along

Is it starting to feel like fall where you are? No? Not even a little bit?

Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part. As I type this, the thermometer reads that it is a cooler temperature outside as it is inside: 65F. Fall MUST be on its way. 

I've cast on a new project AND I'm actually taking time to work on it. What a concept. I have given myself the deadline of my birthday - October 3 - to get it done so I can wear it when we go on my birthday adventure. I also snagged a Dottie Angel Frock pattern this past week that I am beyond excited about. I have had three yards of fabric set aside for a "play dress" for over two years. It just sort of came together that the frock fabric matches my stash yarn - happy birthday to me!


On the reading front, Julian has been devouring Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey books. In the past month he has made it through six of them. They've got the best characters and lots of wit, but I struggle to read them because there is so much colloquial conversation. I'd like to get them on audio and catch up with him soon. 

I am currently reading Summer World by Bernd Heinrich. It is completely fascinating to me and I have no idea why. Well, I know why - it is a nature book written by a naturalist. But it is also a science book written by a scientist. I am a third of the way through the book and there are parts of it that make me want to slam it shut and shudder (learning about mud dauber wasps paralyzing their prey before caching them in their mud nests and laying parasitic eggs in them) and other parts that keep me spell bound (his observations regarding the leafing out of the trees in spring). The book is written with an easy tone, as sort of "you wouldn't believe what I found on my morning walk" but with such scientific detail that I am learning so much. 

Last but not least, if you're looking for a new book - you should read this essay and then read some Noel Perrin.

What are you working on? Show and tell with Ginny and the others. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In Our Garden

Mr. Bunny :: volunteers that lived :: my veg patch :: marigolds :: beautyberry 
snapdragons :: the yellow rose :: the compost heap

We've been putting quite a bit of time in on the yard, even if the mosquitos try to keep us inside. The people we bought the house from obviously loved their yard and did well with it, but the house was vacant all spring, so part of our task now is reclaiming the property from the wild. I am trying to beat back the strongest things - the mint, the dwarf iris, the WEEDS - and I am trying to be wise regarding what to keep as homage to the people who established the garden and what to toss so that I may have my own fingerprints on the land.

We have found an underground irrigation system that takes water from the house to the road, but only two spigots are currently working. One is blocked and the other is non-existent and causes water to bubble like a spring from one of the flower beds. An unlikely "water feature" perhaps?

Aside from water, another thing we are lacking around here is four-season color. I find myself threatening the plants, "You'd better do something showy and impressive come spring or you're toast!" Several of them already have done something impressive (like show that they are PG hydrangeas, or bring in butterflies of all size and description) and others of them just sit there like twiggy skeletons, hungry for a bit of something that isn't just hot sand.

And that brings me to the compost. Julian rigged a compost heap for me, but I need to work hard collecting enough to fill it up. Even just in the past few days it has sunken down under its own decomposing weight. Keeping the mass helps keep the heat and helps it all work better, so I pile and I pile. (Note all those rocks that had to come out of the ground before the posts could go in!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Around the {new} house

I keep postponing writing here because I don't know how to make up for lost time. So much has happened post-move and otherwise that hasn't been logged. How will I do those things justice?

Truth is, I won't. But that's ok. Right? It's my blog and it's my life and sometimes I bake a cake that didn't have a picture taken of it and that's just fine.

We aren't quite in a good routine yet but that's ok, too. We still have boxes to unpack, things to reorganize and change, but the panic of moving is over. I certainly don't want to wish away these last days of summer even though they aren't fit for much other than bird feeder watching and book reading, what with the bugs and all. So that's what we're doing. Reading and watching, some chores in between, phone calls made and emails sent as usual but a little bit slower.

September is going to hit us like a ton of bricks and we both know it. Like the last few click-click-clicks of the roller coaster cart before it swooshes you over the side - these days are like that.

** Disclaimer: That "spitting on floors" sign was left in the house when we bought it. I kind of like it.  It makes me smile. Julian disagrees.