Saturday, July 31, 2010

Supper Solo

I just didn't want to bother cooking anything. It's as simple a meal as I can make. Cereal and soy milk. After working all day and running out of enthusiasm for the job 2.5 hours before I could go home. I stayed till the end. Bravo.

I have to decide how I will spend my "solo" evening. After my shower. I can read. Watch a disc of Fringe season one. I can work on the three place mats I started on Thursday evening while watching Project Runway. Yes. I did fabric work. And I cleared a place on the worktable for actual work. Amazing. I can eat zucchini brownies with a cup of coffee. Do a load of dark work laundry and even get the dog towels washed. Multi-tasking.

When G had a corporate job, he traveled all the time and was frequently away from home. I grew to enjoy the freedom I had on those days and evenings to do what I wanted, eat what I wanted, wear pajamas all day, stay up all night reading and then sleep all day (this was before we had a dog). So, it is sweet indeed, to have this one evening a month to just be ME. No explanations. The Single Life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Christopher

We won't discuss how many years old he is today. We'll celebrate that he is tall, good looking, healthy, intelligent, kind, thoughtful and owns a vacuum. He is so easy going that I think we sometimes (often) concentrate on our own needs instead of his. He is far away today. I always write and tell him I wish he was here having birthday cake with us. A really good fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and vanilla ice cream. Oh. That's MY birthday.

My son was raised in a time of "liberated women's views" shall we say? He can sew if needed. He enjoys cooking. Owns and uses a vacuum. He also owns a washer and drier that are way nicer than anything I have ever owned. My daughter has a brown belt in karate. I blurred the lines of what was masculine/feminine as I raised these two children and the end result is a wonderful thing. Everything is possible. BUT. Neither has married. I don't think this is what either of them wanted but it is what happened. Were my views a bit too liberated? Did they expect and want freedom in everything?

In case you are wondering, (LOL), G cannot cook, use a washer or drier or sew on a button. He does have a brown belt in karate. And he can vacuum.

I made this little fabric birthday card yesterday. I will be sending it via email to C today and then by actual mail today, also. I never forget his birthday but I do forget to mail a card ahead of the birthday. I think it's because I would prefer to see him and hug him and enjoy his company. Sending a card just makes me miss all those things, you know? Just "mom" stuff, sniff.

Happy, Happy birthday Christopher. I love you more than you will ever know. Lots! Have a wonderful day! Love, Mom

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Beginnings- Journal Day

Today is a really special day. I finished the last pages of my "pen & pencil journal" yesterday and selected the blank book (from my collection of blank books) that will be my new journal. It has taken over a year to fill all the pages as I skip whole months at a time. I usually make a little collage on the first page. That "bucket list" is from a magazine advertisement. I'm not really looking for a boyfriend who is a good lover. And I'm not quite finished with the collage. The pages in this new book are thicker and more absorbent, less smooth. So less pen and more paste and paint. Should be interesting.

Yesterday was spent baking and trolling the internet for new blogs to read. I have several bookmarked and the ones I really like will soon be over on the right side bar. My tastes are changing. Cooking blogs. Decorating blogs. Art blogs. Garden blogs.

I also found the Alton Brown diet lists and added them to two blank pages I found I had skipped in the old journal. He has four lists of foods. Daily. Three times a week (at least). Once a Week. Never. Still confusing because there are so many foods not on any of the four lists. Milk. Eggs. Vegetables. After reading the comments I think Alton Brown doesn't like those things. Milk equals cookies in Alton Brown's world. And he must not like vegetables other than broccoli. I do.

G just left for his PET scan. He had to bring warm clothing because the exam room is very cold. Which is nice because today is very hot and humid. It rained overnight (love when it does that) and the garden is hydrated. The weeds are dying on the garden paths so we can spread the bark nuggets at some point in the weekend. I wonder if there are more zucchini waiting to be shredded and baked into Brownies?

PetCareBev has been commenting. She was upset by the "creepy" comment. You are not creepy Bev. It's just than most of us are not fully aware of the OPENness of the internet.
Nothing is actually private out there, so when something like this happens, it's disconcerting.

Not to me. I sent an email to Eukanuba, not to PetCareBev (who is no reply) with our story of the "wrong kibble in the bag" and haven't heard from them. No reply at all. I was hoping for a coupon for a free bag of dog food, at least, to make up for Riley's disappointment while eating the wrong stuff.

I have heard of bloggers mentioning Wonder Under and getting free bolts of the stuff from the manufacturer (usually teachers or authors). One blogger had problems with a computer addition and the CEO of the company commented on her blog and set her up with tech support to straighten it all out. I wrote about CROCS several times but they must not troll the internet for name usage. I really wanted some free shoes. I LOVE CROCS but they are so hard to find and buy around here. In fact, anyone out there, I adore Sharpie Pens, Neocolor crayons, CROCS, Eukanuba, FLAX clothing, Golden Fluid Acrylics, All-Clad Stainless Pans, and free fabric from new collections. If I had free fabric from new collections I would use it and show it on my blog. Promise. Send me stuff!!! I also enjoy new art quilting books and could read them, try some of the techniques and review them for the blog. I am excellent at critique. Always positive and helpful. New Book Reviews. Yes!

Okay, that takes care of the self promotion activities for the day. Wouldn't it be nice to have the blog earn money? I am really an underused (under read) resource.

Today I have all the things I didn't do yesterday, to do today. So many things got in the way yesterday. Like sitting here in front of the computer. I have to actually get something done today as I work tomorrow and Saturday. :-(

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I thought I would alert all my readers to a wonderful low calorie "bread". I just made a second loaf and while it's baking I thought I would share this recipe from ClosetCooking.

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

1.5 cups grated zucchini (grated, drained and squeezed dry) I measure after the squeezing
3/4 cup brown sugar (mine was dark brown)
1/4 cup oil (yes, that tiny bit)
1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt (non fat is okay also) If you have plain then add a teas of vanilla
1 egg (I use EggBeaters)

1.5 cups flour (can be 1 c white and .5 cup whole wheat pastry)
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
shake or two of cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all the wet stuff together with a spoon and lots of muscle or with a mixer.
Then add the dry and mix again.
Spoon out into a greased loaf pan
Bake for one hour (or until pick tests clean) in 350 degree oven.

Let cool completely before cutting (unlike me!) I would perhaps try to use less brown sugar next time (mix in some white) and skip the cinnamon. But there is no taste of the zucchini. Just chocolate. Very tender crumb. Moist.

I also found another recipe which I will be trying next. Today. Because we haven't had a good dessert in ages.

Zucchini Brownies

1/2 cup oil (or 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt for more cake like brownies)
1.5 cups white sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
2 cups shredded, drained, squeezed zucchini
optional (some chocolate chips) to make it even more chocolatey.

Mix sugar and oil together. Measure all dry stuff in another bowl and then add. Or just measure into the sugar and oil like I do. Will look dry. Then add the zucchini which has been squeezed dry in a towel. Mix and then scoop into the greased brownie pan of your choice.

9 by 9 inch pan for 45 minutes (this seems long) or 9 by 13 inch pan for 20 to 30 minutes.
Again, toothpick test as you get close to the end of the baking time. Overbaked brownies aren't delicious. These are zucchini brownies so they aren't like full butter and chocolate brownies.

The addition of an egg (Beater) to this recipe and the use of the yogurt make the end result more cake like and less dense and fudge like. But in that case, spread it with chocolate frosting and call it a party! You do like cake?

Dog Morning

My shiny black dog baby is sound asleep with his teddy. Can he get any cuter? Riley is having a slow, sleepy start to my day off. Which is okay with me. I have a white load of laundry in the washer and when it dries I will iron G's work shirts. I think there may be a nap in my future as well.

We found a HUGE zucchini in the garden. How do we miss seeing these things? I was reading a Swedish blog and the author had made zucchini fritters with feta, parsley and dill. I could also make some of the Indian fritters from the Jamie Oliver book. I did buy chickpea flour for just such a recipe tryout. Or I could walk down the street and leave them on someone's doorstep. This would be a good time to make more pickles, but I already have a dozen or more jars from last summer and 5 from this summer. We have to try and eat more pickles! I wish zucchini tasted good in a fresh salad with sour cream and dill. It doesn't.

My nose is alternating between running and being stopped up. The stopped up portion gives me a headache and makes my eyes blurry. Whatever I am allergic to--is in bloom right now. Ragweed or goldenrod.

Yesterday at work, wasn't bad (but not good, either). It was so hot in the greenhouse, where a majority of my time was spent, that the sweat running off my face into my eyes, burned my eyes. I was reminded by fellow workers to go get glasses of water. So I had plenty of water, soup for lunch and watermelon chunks in the late afternoon. No backache this morning. I broke a leaf off an orchid I was examining for a customer (felt awful about that), had a problem with the credit card machine (felt stupid about that), and helped a few customers (felt okay with that). I was also asked to "stand up all the tall plants that fell over and water everything in the perennial yard" Two thirds of the way into the project, the boss sends me "help". What does this mean? Was I going too slow? Was I not doing it correctly? Did he change his mind about wanting me to do it? Did I look like I couldn't do the job? What?????? I was happy to see him go home early.

G is having his share of grumpy customers. Road paving is closing exits along our main highway and vacationers are being bumped off onto strange secondary streets, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic and it's hot. Maine also has no info signs so no one knows where they will be able to find gas or food. So when they see the little, tiny McDonald's they swarm in. And sometimes they vent or give everyone some of their frustrated attitude. Plus they increase the customer count. G sometimes has 6 employees and is serving nearly 100 customers at the counter each hour. No drive thru. Tiny. Thank goodness McDonald's of Maine no longer serves up lobster rolls. Though it would help local lobster men right now. Which reminds me, I haven't had a lobster roll this summer.

I took some allergy pills and plan to have a second cup of coffee. May need to start closing windows as the day warms up. I can feel that nap sneaking up on me. I want to paint fabric today. Fry squash. Iron. We'll see. There's always tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Open Windows and a Nice Breeze

It's amazing what a nice cleansing breeze can do for a summer evening, morning or afternoon. I love when the "lace" curtains lift and billow in a summer breeze. We have had night temps in the high 50's for two nights. That is normal for Maine. And the next week's weather will be typical Maine summer temps in the high 70's with sun and blue skies. All our visitors from "away" will be happy they arrived this week. Especially, the visitors with boats. Cruising our inlets and islands along the eastern coastline is really a sensory overload. It's that beautiful.

G sprayed weed killer in the garden (on the paths) and I must stay out until this evening or tomorrow or I will track weed killer into the grass from my shoes. The weeds this summer are terrible. And now they are getting big enough to make seeds so we had to resort to drastic measures. G has invented a barrier that keeps the spray focused on the ground and the weeds with no over spraying onto my vegetables. It works very well.

The baked French Fries were salty, crispy and delicious. G & I weren't all that hungry but something salty and crispy was a nice change from our usual diet.

I went out at 7.30 to drive to the library and pick up Jo Nesbo's #3. Now I get to go back to the beginning and see how it all began. I have had to read out of order and that is never a good idea. Spoils all the fun. The library was closing as I arrived. Still quite a few people there. I noticed the staff being less than friendly. Not a smile or a chat for anyone. Not like when I worked there. Everything changes. Even me.

Working the afternoon shift today. The watering should be done. I can probably spend the afternoon in the perennial yard clipping and weeding. I should make a jar of tea for work. Yesterday I had vegetable chowder for lunch and it was a good lunch. So I think I will pack up another bowl for today along with the tea. Dinner will be pasta. Easy and fast and delicious. I have what it takes to make Carbonara for G if he is hungry enough. He hasn't had much of an appetite lately.

Riley's new bag of dog food has the right sized food nuggets this time. The last bag must have been a packaging mistake.The outside wrapper had the right info but the contents weren't right. Everytime we fed Riley that other food he would stare into the bowl and then look up at us. "Where is MY Food?" Now, his familiar food is back. I should write to Eukanuba. The stuff costs a fortune and Riley is noticeably more intelligent than other dogs (we think), his coat is extremely shiny, and he is lean and muscular. In other words, a beautiful example of his breed. So we get value for the money we spend on feeding him the best food possible. Riley eats Eukanuba Labrador Retriever Food. Good Stuff.

I am now moving on to breakfast and my first cup of coffee. Then getting dressed and seeing if I want to start reading, work on a page in my journal (almost to the end and I can chose my next blank book) or start a doodle. Got to get into art again. Slowly.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Not So Hot!

Last night we had most excellent sleeping weather and today I had a most excellent day at work and so did G. We are both in a very good place today. So I am baking some French Fries.

My back was good today. My lunch was good. The work and customers were good. And the customer from Friday who made us stay late: brought over a note of apology and a bag of gourmet bakery cookies. Which were delicious. I even had to be reminded that it was time to punch out and go home. That hasn't happened in a good long while.

I think Diane is right. I am not as happy as I was this winter when my house was in order, I had time during the day to prepare a proper dinner, I could walk the dog the full 3 miles in sub zero temps and every other weather winter had to throw at us, and I was reading my way through Wallander. A clean house, a good dinner, a good walk and a good book. No wonder I was so bubbly and cheerful--in the dead of winter.

Here it is summer, blue skies and what have I got on my plate? Bug Bites. A weedy garden. Humid Heat. A not so clean house. And a work schedule that is making me tired and cranky. And hungry. We aren't having much in the way of "good dinners" these days. And no art is being made. Not even a doodle. I feel like I may have forgotten how to make art.

I do remember how to save seeds. Nina's Lupine. Patty's Red Poppies. Joanie's Rose Campion. And I am drying my Calandula blossoms so I can make salve.

Last night we had a full moon, and, while Riley was out barking at something, I checked to see where the moonlight falls in my yard and to see if my little moon garden is in the right spot. I think if I had gone out a few hours later the moon may have reached my white flowers. I know, now, that my back stoop is in moonlight most of the night. That would be a most excellent spot for a collection of white flowers. Next year.

G has arranged the most remarkable thing. Nearly four days, in a row, off. Thursday till Monday morning. He will have to do end of the month on July 31 but will get to sleep till he wants to wake up four mornings in a row. Wait until Riley finds out!!!! That dog is going to be HAPPY! Perhaps we should celebrate by having this be a four day "eat out" event. G loves to eat restaurant food. We'll see.

I am now going to check on the baked French Fries. And warm up some ketchup.

Oh, I almost forgot. The library sent an email. They purchased a Jo Nesbo from Amazon UK (used) for the library collection (and ME). Book number 7. Yippee.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Swirl Zinnia and Dianthus

I look forward to the swirl zinnias. They arrive in the annual house later than everything else. I think this one is called cherry swirl. I also bought the yellow and red swirled zinnia. They are in the yellow planter I showed you a few days ago.

I went to work today and only stayed one hour. My back hurt and the heat was making me nauseous. I have been drinking plenty of liquids. I slept poorly last night and spent too many hours slouched on the couch reading my Norwegian mystery. Poor posture will do it every time. G is having a worse day as he was called in to work early this morning (his day off). He won't get a substitute day off. He just loses it. Which stinks.

I am feeling down, sad and vaguely depressed today. Since it has to do with someone else, not me, I have decided not to write about it. What is it they say?"Life is what happens to you while you were making other plans". As my dad would say, "damn".

I don't feel well enough to do much outside where it's hot. If I could sleep, I would. I will continue to drink water and sit up straight and not slouch. I will walk around to loosen the back muscles. I will survive.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Annual Blue Cornflowers

These plants have decided to flop to the side and grow upwards from that position. No matter how many branches I have added to the container to support the flopping stems, they just find a way to tip over the edge. Head strong. And such a beautiful blue. Another beautiful blue is the Stokesia Aster which I didn't buy this year. But I ordered 2 more trays for the perennial yard and am pleased to see them being sold.

Yesterday, I arrived at work to find two large carts of new perennials. Mostly coneflowers in white, purple and Sunrise yellow. More sedum. They sent Autumn Joy which customers wanted in May. What are the chances these same customers will return now to find nice Autumn Joy plants? Not good. And Heuchera (coral bells) in Caramel. A color which was also in demand 2 months ago. Do you know a gardener who will wait 2 months to find "the" plant wanted for the garden? No. They will shop around until they find it. Somewhere else.

The remainder of the afternoon, waiting for my head to clear, I walked around clipping spent blossoms, answering questions and finally settled on working the cash register. Eventually, it was 6. When I got home, G & Riley were just returning from a walk in the woods (Riley was radiantly happy) and my purchased rolls and tortillas were viewed with good cheer by G also. We each had a pulled pork sandwich, pickles and the remainder of a short bag of corn chips. then we had showers. It was 8.30 by then. Too late for the promised ice cream.

Today, Saturday, my day off for the weekend, is cloudy, humid and has the potential for some rain. Which means, for me, the bugs are out and bloodthirsty. I have a long list of outdoor projects that need work. Planting, weeding and spraying. I also have produce to collect. Squashes, blueberries and more peas. And perhaps a cucumber? I was going to plant more cucumber seeds but the grocery has plenty for sale. I remember past years of having so many that I brought them to work to give away. I may have lost the cucumber "touch". I love a nice cucumber salad with sour cream and dill.

I took my off brand Claritin at around 8.30 last night and slept well. No post nasal drip down the back of my throat. I don't think the medication is curing the problem, merely making me less miserable. And it makes me drowsy, contrary to what is written on the box front. One tab a day. I figured being drowsy was something I should save for evening and not morning. But my nose is stuffy right now. And my head feels like it has cotton batting inside. And I am sleepy. I am going to have a bowl of Pecan Cereal. It's not crunchy or crispy and gets all mushy in the milk, but I am growing very fond of it. So I will eat it at every opportunity and NEVER buy it again. It is too tempting. Just like the Big Sky granola. Once I open the package I can't stay away from it until it is empty.

The coffee is ready. I can hear the siren call of my cereal beckoning. I can also hear Riley making "let's go" noises from the sunporch. He has squirrels to chase and grass to roll in. And the hope of a walk at some point.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zinnias, Nasturtiums and Little Yellow Dot Flowers

The pedestal planter out front done in yellow flowers. I love the multi colored "swirl" zinnias. The yellow dot flowers are Chrom....... something. A customer described them to me and I happened to see some in the garden place around the corner from where I live and bought them. Thinking I would then remember their name. I had to then buy more yellow things so I could pot it up in the planter. Next year I will have a yellow planter along with the red and blue ones. I find I enjoy the single color families.

I am suffering from a sinus/nasal something. Burning in the back of my nose and now pressure behind my left eye. Been quite a few years since my sinuses acted up. My doctor looked inside my nose yesterday at my annual exam. She said it was red and irritated in there. I am taking a generic Claritin but wouldn't mind something that did make me drowsy. I prefer being asleep when I don't feel good. I am also having a blood test to check my kidneys, Diane.

I have already folded laundry, ironed G's work shirts, eaten breakfast and let the dog in and out. All I have left to do is make my lunch (yogurt and fruit) and sit around until it's time to go to work. I SO want to call out and stay home (like I did last Friday).

We now have Vegetable Chowder, Pulled Pork and veggie burgers in the fridge ready to eat. The only thing left to make is vegetarian lasagna. I could add meat. I think there may be meat somewhere in the freezer. And I have to search all the way back to see if I have a frozen box of spinach for the ricotta layer. That's something I will do tomorrow. Today I am simply purchasing some Kaiser rolls and flour tortillas. G can have pulled pork sandwiches or quesadillas. Or Burritos. I am trying to use what we've got and not buy much. At some point, I hope the fridge starts to look empty?

I have some flyers from the newspaper on my desk. Refrigerators. I was busy measuring and checking to see what will fit. I had wanted the freezer on the bottom but I found a side by side yesterday which might fit (with some sanding of the cabinet trim above) and that would mean an in the door ice dispenser. Haven't had that luxury in 20 years. That's how old my present fridge is. Twenty. Ice in the door or in the drawer???? One thing about a side by side. The shelves are small and I think it's easier to see/find things. I actually have to get down on the floor to look for things in this fridge. How else did I manage to lose a red pepper and a large bag of broccoli? I think there's some watermelon in there also.

My head hurts.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wanting What Everyone Has

But not knowing what I will do with it. A phone. A cell phone. Never had one. I don't think the one I gave back after two days counts, do you?

I have written before, about not having anyone to call on a phone. That is still true. I can call G but usually, when I want to call him, I am standing near a wall mounted phone. Or I am at home with our house phone. I could use my "free" minutes to call K or my son (once). I could get an iPhone and read email, take pictures and, well, do what I do here at home on the computer. But that takes the fun out of sitting here on the computer.

All of you out there, did you used to phone people all the time even when you didn't have a cell phone? Do you have tons of friends and family to talk to all day, everyday? (I don't) Do you need to talk to your significant other several times a day? (G would hang up on me) Do you call people while you are grocery shopping? At TJ Maxx? Standing in line at the bank?

These are all things I would never do. The only time I really like having a phone (borrowed) is when I travel alone and I don't do that more than once a year now.

I don't use my house phone. At all most days. So, I guess that answers my question of needing a cell phone. Like the Hoola Hoop it is something everyone has and I thought I needed one, too. to be "with it". I am totally not "with it".

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Still Wednesday- Part II

I ended up making 5.5 pints of pickles. You can still call them pickles even if they aren't made with cucumbers? And I made Garden Vegetable Chowder because I found a large crown of broccoli in the back of that "fridge I am not getting along with right now". I found a red pepper for the pickles in there and then later the broccoli which I hadn't seen when I found the pepper. Do you think I may have some sort of magical, never empty fridge all of a sudden?

The chowder is using up all the broccoli, some frozen corn, tomatoes, my cup of fresh picked peas (remember them?), an onion and some of the quart of half and half I bought to go in my iced coffee which I keep forgetting to drink. I will venture out for basil and parsley to adorn the finished chowder when we decide to eat dinner. And add 3/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese. Yes, cream and cheese. It's good chowder. Do you actually think G would eat all those vegetables if there wasn't butter, cream and cheese involved???

This reminds me of that cooking experiment from a year or two ago on the internet. For a week, you have to use and cook with only the stuff you have in the cupboard or fridge. You can buy perishables like milk, eggs, bread and butter but nothing else. You have to be inventive and it sure would clean out some of the backlog of items purchased and never used. The idea was to force us to try new things. Find a recipe for the items you have to use and eat. Each day, it gets more difficult depending on the items in your cupboard and fridge and freezer. G would have to find something else to eat when he runs out of bagels for breakfast. Or his usual jam and jelly. But, I do have a large stock of jam and jelly on hand. And I could MAKE bagels. See how this gets you thinking in a new way?

I'm sure Deborah is playing this game as she gets ready for the movers. When I moved to Europe, I baked and cooked for the four days it took the guys to pack me up. They had a large assortment of good things to snack on and eventually the fridge was empty and I scrubbed it and filled it with newspaper and open cans of ground coffee for the sea voyage. The newspaper and coffee absorb any odors.

Thunder in the background. I am so happy I didn't waste any of my day outside watering the garden. I scrubbed my bathroom. Vacuumed carpets and window screens. Made the bed. Made pickles (canner, jars, lids, funnels etc). Read blogs. Ate a good lunch of sweet potato burger and zucchini pickles. Ordered another Jo Nesbo from the library and sent an inquiry to the head reference librarian of my local library regarding finding out of another state might lend me the remainder of the books. I also washed all the dishes I used and made chowder. I feel like I've had a productive day. G brought me a Mocha Frappe from work. Really sweet. Got a brain freeze. Ouch!

Lots of things to watch on television and I want to go watch it thunder, lightning and rain. This is also something we never had much of in Maine before global warming. Thunder.

The Garden Begins To Produce

Finally. Big yellow squashes that I can slice thinly along with a big onion or two and fry down to a medium brown wonderful southern mess. Oh. My. Goodness. And one tiny tomato. I have some leaf issues out in the garden which worry me but I am going to think positive thoughts. I sampled all of the ripe sun gold tomatoes. So. Good. Please, Tomato Gods! Let them all ripen.

My restaurant Lexan container. Yes, 8 Quarts. Sliced, big zukes. Onion, red pepper, garlic and the few bitty jalapenos from my plants. I included the seeds and ribs because there were so few. Need the heat. This has been salted and iced and will be sitting quietly for three hours. Then I will be making Zucchini Bread & Butter Pickles. So much better than the cucumber versions. It wouldn't be a hot, sunny day in July without the canner boiling on the stove and hot sticky sweet syrup all over everything. I have been having vintage pickles on my veggie burger @ lunch. Everyone admires my lunch.

This is what the sliced zucchini, onion and peppers look like before salting and icing. I bought a $29 mandoline from the Chef's catalog. All one piece (no parts) and it can go into the dishwasher. I got two. One for me and one for my daughter. Easy Peasy. Sliced all this zucchini in less than 3 minutes. I did the onion by hand with my chef's knife. I can do a neater job on the onion. I didn't buy one for my son because he enjoys knife work as much as I do.

I got three or four mosquito bites (damn) while foraging in the garden for any additional zukes. Found three, so I sliced up seven total (I had four in the kitchen). They were all good sized.
Some times things just work out exactly as they should and then I feel so content and in sync with the Universe. I wish I could say the same for the contents of the fridge. I would appreciate being in sync with it's contents right now.

G stopped by the library last night to pick up the next Harry Hole (Jo Nesbo) Norwegian mystery for me. I am loving them. The author refuses to allow the books to be made into movies (I have to thank Diane for the link to an video interview). Wow, would these rock as movies!!! I may have to order the last remaining one available locally. And then find out where I can get my hands on the three newest books if they have been translated into English. Or find a new author. Perhaps one from Denmark. I didn't read them in order and that's too bad but that's the way it goes. The one unordered is the first one. So, I read #5, then #4, now #6 and will order #3. The same thing happened with Wallander. I had to read those books in the order I could obtain them also.

Yesterday and today the day temps are in the 80's with drier nights. Better sleeping. I turned the fans to lower speeds (less noise), no AC and I slept very well. Even used the covers. I am thankful to not be working for the next two days as the boss is returning from three days away today. He will be a dynamo of "projects" and busy work. More than half of everything in the perennial yard is past bloom and 25% have no descriptive tickets in the pots. Who knows what variety they are? I don't. We have wandering children who like to collect the identifier sticks out of pots. I set three of them to work (a few weeks ago) picking up sticks off the ground instead of pulling them from pots and I made them return them to me. Mom wasn't amused. Hey, I'm NOT amused either!!!

My second to the last customer was an older woman (perhaps 10 years older than I) who had me push her cart, read all the labels, go back and forth from Rudebeckia to Shasta Daisy to Coneflower and then asked if I would write up descriptions and plant heights for her (information off the sticks in the pots). Then she asked me to come plant them for her. I smiled and said "oh, I wish I had the time to do that!" Right. the final customer waited until five minutes to six (closing time) to dither with selecting a pot, wanting fencing, soils, etc and then proceeded to sit in the parking lot (we couldn't lock the gates) talking on the phone.
Finally, "A" knocked on the car window and asked her to drive out of the lot so we could go home. It took her awhile to get moving and then she waited to turn out into the street. Still talking on the phone. I'm sure she will call today to complain to the boss on our lack of "customer service". We are not allowed to hurry customers at closing. No announcements.

I am going to have some more coffee, find out why the dog is grumbling and then vacuum the floors, make the bed, fold the washed and dried dog towels, brush my teeth and wet my bed head hair and think about doing some garden chores like weeding or planting the new stuff I bought last week. Fertilizing the orchids. Sweeping off the back stoop. Watering the front containers. Writing checks for the pile of bills on my desk. Lots of things to do here at home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday Morning Coreopsis

And, Yes, those are lupine leaves. My coreopsis is a bit like an unwanted guest. Showing up when least expected and over staying it's welcome. It's everywhere. I think I planted it in my English Country Garden phase when I just wanted a rabble and clutter of blossoms. Well, after a few years (10) it all looks like a rat's nest. I'm more interested in a Control Freak Garden these days. Like I have the personality traits for that!!! LOL.

We had tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and a terrible, crappy French loaf of grocery bread. I am never buying that shit again. Bad bread is a sin. I tried to watch Mad Men repeats but wasn't interested. Uh, oh! Then I watched something else: two old L&O CI, when Bobby was thin, and enjoyed them very much. Missed the new Closer (TiVo saved it for me) and then watched Rizzoli. The family stuff is crap and too Sopranos. But it's summer and I watch anything vaguely entertaining. For a while. I can only fool my brain cells for so long and then they rebel. No new books to read. Sad.

Already swept the kitchen floor, folded laundry and washed the dog bed towels. Need to find a good beach towel sale so I can buy new dog towels. Wide, long and thick. Riley deserves the best. He seems to have stopped chewing holes in them. But we rarely leave him at home for hours at a time anymore, that's when he chews to calm himself. He's sleeping. As he gets older he sleeps more hours in the day. Used to be only 12 hours out of 24. Dogs. A mystery to me.

G is tired from the "summer rush" in the fast food industry. He has customer counts of 100 or more in a one hour time period. No drive thru so everyone comes to the counter. 100 in an hour is a lot. Yesterday they did three hours of 100 people each hour. Yikes!

I have 12 large bags of bark nuggets to spread on my garden paths tomorrow and I need to put hay down under the tomatoes so the leaves don't get more rain/watering backsplash. Blight has been found in Maine again so the tomato crop is in danger. Damn. Lots of fungus and insect damage coming to visit me in the greenhouse (in plastic sandwich bags). The biggest problem is Miracle Grow Potting Mix. This used to be a wonderful product but now the soil in the bag is crap and they have compensated with extra fertilizer. Burning the plant leaves and not giving the roots anywhere to grow in the bark, clumps and sticks that is being sold as "soil". And the "stuff" is heavy. Too heavy. No air.

If I have any advice for new gardeners it is this: dirt, plain top soil, loam has no nutrients. It's just brown stuff. You need to buy and add peat moss to retain water and composted manures or just good compost to the plain dirt to add nutrients. And fertilizer. If you paid less than two dollars for each bag, you bought dirt. Not soil. Gardeners start with plain dirt and add stuff every year to make the soil better and more fertile. We add peat one year. Manures the next. Cropped leaves the next. Compost or seaweed the next. We are always adding new food to the soil to enrich it and make our plants stronger enough to withstand the fungus, insects and diseases that come with gardening. And we mix in good organic slow release fertilizers like ProGro. Spend time and money on your soil!!! First.

Okay, I have to pack my lunch and visit the bank. I need to order checks and sign papers for a new CD. It will have to be quick as I will have Riley in the car and the sun is shining. Another 80 degree day here in Maine after a cooler, breezy night. Good sleeping. I needed some good sleep. I work until 6 today. It will seem endless.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Geraniums

I overwintered three and bought two more to fill this basket. They are doing very well and I try and remember to water regularly. These "ivy" geraniums are weaker and get all kinds of insect damage and diseases. Not my favorites but the colors are divine. This year we had the most gob smackingly gorgeous red. No orange undertones at all. Pure. Red. Maybe next year?

We were off line for almost two full days. I was having internet withdrawal. This morning I ate my breakfast staring at the blank screen. No weather report. So, I didn't know how much or how little to wear to work. I ended up tearing a few inches off the bottom of a green work tee (at work) in order to shorten it get some air circulation. Tomorrow, a white sleeveless tee. The boss is taking a few days off (and the mice will play).

We have a recently pregnant 22 year old at work. She got very drunk a few months ago and drunk dialed an old boyfriend and now they are going to be parents. Her midwife is giving her lots of fascinating info. Today she cried because "someone" had washed the sink with bleach (it was nasty) and now she couldn't enter the breakroom or even use the bathroom. No cleaning supplies for the full 9 months. No "bleech" on the sign she taped up. Do the schools even try to teach spelling? She wants us to stop cleaning the public restrooms. Can you all say "hell no" with me? And don't get her started on bologna.

And we are ordering a "Japanise bettel" trap for a customer. This is the recent high school graduate who will be attending college in a few months.

These young adults are on the high trapeze without a safety net and it is so damned depressing to watch them make uninformed decisions. Where are their parents? And on the other side a 30 something is struggling to help her mom pay for mom's cancer drugs. $400 for 3 pills to help mom not be so sick after each chemo treatment (4 already). Mom is 72 and on Medicare. And needs to feel better so she can go to work. Does it get sadder than that????

Okay, so I am feeling pretty thankful for our good health, bank accounts, relative intelligence, ability to spell, and insurance coverage. G and I both have doctor's appointments on Thursday. Let's hope they are uneventful. I am also thankful g got us back online. I was getting "twitchy".

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Southern Peaches

I read, somewhere, that the way to ripen hard grocery peaches, was to set them somewhere, not touching, and turn them daily until the peaches were as ripe as you wanted. I did this. I set my 10 peaches in a grid on the bay window sill, shady, and waited. I think they might have been ready yesterday but this morning we have soft, juicy peach perfection. I may eat them all for breakfast!!! One of the joys of living in Georgia was the sweet juicy peaches.

I didn't go to work yesterday. I cooked. I read. I walked the dog. I neglected my gardens. I rested. I have now had four days to rest, regroup and listen to my body instead of my head. The weather here in Maine co-operated. I could have the house windows open most of the day and all night. There was a gentle breeze. If it weren't for all the biting bugs, a hammock in the yard would have been a delightful place to rest and nap. I am suffering two more fly bites.

I fried all the zucchini from the garden down with onion. Two batches. I mentioned at work that I could eat rice, green peas and fried squash everyday. So, now I can. It isn't difficult to cook things when you have all day. We had pan sauteed southern pork ribs for dinner. Fried hot to get a crispy exterior and then braised with water and covered until the water cooks down, then fried gently till dark brown and slightly crisp. Soft, melting meat and a bone to chew. G had the last of the German potato salad (bacon and pickled onion) and I had an extra large baked potato and applesauce. Green beans for both of us. A very good dinner.

Now the refrigerator is packed with food (for me mostly); leftover pizza, sweet potato burgers, fried squash. I just need to make more rice. I have some frozen chicken that I could prepare for G. And I have everything for a small pan of lasagna sans zucchini. There is also a half loaf of very moist banana bread and I am thinking about a peach dessert.

Today is supposed to become very hot. A good day to not be working. I exchanged my Saturday for another's Sunday for the next two weeks. Sunday is one hour shorter and a whole lot slower than Saturday. But any day with high heat is slow. Who visits a greenhouse in 90 degree weather? Which reminds me to get another half gallon jar of sweet tea made.

Can you tell I lived in Georgia for six of the most impressionable years of my life? Where I began married life and had two babies and learned to cook. I hated leaving Georgia when G was transferred to Florida. I still love going back to visit. My southern accent returns so quickly y'all. Smiling. A lot. Think I'll have another peach.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What I Am Reading This Week

Swedish police procedural, vegetarian/meat eater recipes, work related stuff, and cottage style for some decorating ideas. At the bottom is an LL Bean catalog. The Book Sale sent me a $25 "thank you" gift card to LL Bean for all my hard work. In the old days, book sale wise, I have gotten $100 GC to very nice restaurants, $60 GC to local, not so nice places, $20 GC to a local, weird bookstore (which I traded for another restaurant GC). The "thank you" has declined in direct proportion to the increased end result. The $100 gifts were for sales making 12 to 17K. Now that we are pulling in 34K each year--I get $25.

I found (I think) a wonderful recipe for zucchini lasagna. I will be using my seven zucchini for this dish. G and I decided that I had enough back up stock of zucchini pickles and don't need to make more. The cucumbers aren't producing so I can't make the sweet salty pickles my daughter loves. The tomato plants are full of green tomatoes so I can't start roasting and freezing them yet. I now have a full cup of shelled peas to work with. I don't have enough of anything BUT zucchini and I only like it as pickles. The yellow summer squash has stopped producing. One batch and now nothing. This is a common problem this summer. The grocery had yellow squash (green tinged) and I didn't think it looked very good. My cabbages look good. Small and cute. I weeded the cabbage bed yesterday in 90 degree sunshine. OMG. Only one bed left with weeds. My kale and chard are looking great. Can't wait till they get bigger. My second planting of baby bok choy hasn't grown much yet. The first crop was very cute and then bolted. I ate all the flowers and composted the plants. I plan to actually eat these new ones and that may be why they aren't growing. My beets are SO tiny. Why can't I grow beets?

Right now the sky is overcast and the temps aren't very high. But yesterday the sun came out rather suddenly and got blazing hot. I really don't want to go to work today. Riley is grumpy also. It's rotten being a black dog in the summer.

I'm going to make a bowl of cereal, eat it and then pack my work lunch. See if I still want to stay home. There are enough people working that I am not necessary. I can always eat my lunch here at home. Sounds like a good plan.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

It doesn't matter how clever I try to be, loading the pictures into the file backwards, they come out in the wrong order each and every time. This is my first attempt at a pictured recipe so bear with me as we go backwards through the recipe. Here is the finished product. Frying away, happily, in a non stick pan.

Same patties on their arrival into the pan of hot canola oil. I set the timer for 4 minutes so each side of these quarter pounder sized patties would have enough cooking time. I also shook the pan to see if the patties were sticking to the bottom. I learned this from television cooking shows. Eventually, the patties will move on their own. Wait for it. Trust me on this. We are cooking sweet potatoes and there is a ton of sugar.

Wow, this is difficult. Anyway, this is the waiting area for uncooked burgers. Waxed paper. And these little patties are wet and sticky so use the wax paper to lift and tip the wet patty on to your open palm and then tip into the hot pan. Don't rush. Be calm.

A patty's worth of the mix. In the mixing bowl. I usually fill my hand and then make a ball and then place the ball on the wax paper and tap into a patty shape. Even width across the patty.

Here we are adding dry and wet ingredients to the shredded veggies. I use Egg Beaters in everything. Fewer calories and there isn't any of that creepy albumen stuff and the red specks and all that egg business that makes me very nervous. It's just yellow and very very nice. Remember to shake it well. One fourth cup is one egg.

This isn't on the recipe and probably isn't necessary to successful patties but I like it and put 2 or 3 Tablespoons of the dry mix into my patties.

The onion we will be grating into the bowl with the sweet potato (which you haven't seen yet).

The grated sweet potato (really, I used two). This takes time and since the potato is hard to grate, be careful of your finger tips and knuckles. Stop and rest. I do.

Two peeled sweet potatoes. Waiting to be grated, mixed and fried.

Here's the recipe. In the proper order.

Patty's Sweet Potato Patties. (or burgers)

I egg, slightly beaten
1 carrot, grated (I don't add this)
1 onion, finely minced (I grate it)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated (I used two very large potatoes today)
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper
garlic in any form is optional (grated, minced, powder)

Add everything to the grated veg and squish it around with your hands. It will look like an impossible task but *presto* it comes together into a wet mess. Then divide into similar sized clumps. I made 7 quarter pounder sized patties out of my bowlful. Pick up a clump and make a ball then pat down on the waxed paper. Too big? pick it up, remove some, make a new ball and patty onto the wax paper. Too small? pick it up add some and ball and patty again until you are happy.

Do not try and turn patties if they are not moving when you shake the pan (use handle to go back and forth quickly) Sweet potatoes are sticky and will stick to the turner, the pan, you . They are also very hot.

I keep my cooked patties in a flat storage container with parchment paper or wax paper between each cooled patty in the refrigerator. I warm one up in the microwave, adding a cheese slice for a cheese burger if that is what I want. I serve on a bun with my bread and butter zucchini pickles on top. Onion, bacon, pickles, tomato would all be excellent additions. It's a burger!!! (these can also be frozen (cooked) for burgers anytime)

I have thought about making tiny patties and using them to fill a pita pocket and adding cucumber yogurt sauce for a Greek treat. Some curry powder added to the mix with the dry ingredients would turn this into an Indian patty which would be nice with raita and chutney. (and you could add raisins and cashews to the mix)

I have also considered grating a regular plain potato into the patty mix. Patty, of the recipe's title, added leftover cooked rice and cheese to her patties. Beans? Why not.

This is a very versatile recipe and never lets me down. If I add more potato, I add another 1/4 cup of egg and another 1/2 cup of flour (which is what I did today). Bon Appetite!!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So Very Bored Today

I have vacuumed. I have mopped the floors with Simple Green. I have gone to the library and picked up good books for G and for me. Another Jo Nesbo. I have read the local newspaper. I have purchased $118 worth of groceries: yogurt, orange juice, bagels, peaches, pizza dough, cheese, soy milk, cereal (2 kinds- one with pecans and "clusters"), a tiny watermelon, some pork, applesauce, granola, deli ham, pasta and pizza sauce. I have eaten a deli ham and cheese sandwich with radishes from my garden. I am thinking of having a glass of iced tea.

I often find grocery lists that other people have made and lost. Other people buy stuff that's different than what I buy. The above list is pretty standard for me. I think I could live on cereal and milk. I'm getting bored with the yogurt and fruit lunches I take to work.

A nap sounds good right about now.

I read a blog today that recalled all the jobs this person had in her life (she has done this before; made a list of jobs - long term memory loss?) Anyway here is mine for your amusement.

Babysitter for a mom returning to work who fed the baby prunes. Need I say more?
Department Store clerk (high school): Paint (didn't know anything); gloves (no idea what black calfskin was); sports (asked a teen what size athletic cup he needed); Undergarments; sold out of Playtex girdles one evening when I had the price incorrect. I think every girdle wearer in Cleveland came by to buy two. Men's Shirts: this is where I remained until I left for college. I was cute and older guys liked to make me squirm and blush
Cleveland Water Department: I was given a job as a favor to my dad, a police officer. We did nothing usually but one day all the file cabinets fell over (I was NOT in the file room) and then we had lots to do. I often wondered if I should have applied again?
Department Store. Again.
US Post Office: Christmas postal delivery. Lots of sitting around and being paid while drinking coffee. Some delivery of mail. Two winters.
American Greetings; Greeting card packaging/night shift. My only union experience. I worked too quickly and had to "use the restroom" for 20 minutes at a time to get my hourly rate down low enough. Pretty soon I was slacking off like everyone else. I'm sure those jobs are now done in China.
Cashier at Lums Bar and Hotdogs: which turned into waitress when someone called out.
Retail in local department store while husband finished college. Boring until I threw up one morning and everyone BUT me realized I was pregnant.
Treasure Island; a JC Penney big box: Product Marker. I opened boxes and put on price stickers and it was by far my favorite job ever.
Treasure Island: Mark down clerk. I wrote off broken and damaged things and tossed them in the compacter. Worst job I ever had. Wanted my old job back so badly!!!
Math & English Department Aide: Marked tests, helped in classrooms, did bulletin boards, typed tests and eventually worked one on one with students in remedial math and English. Loved it.
Newspaper Advertising Pasteup: local paper. I did a number of things and everytime I tried to quit I got a raise and a new job title. This was my first time working with people younger than me and I found I liked it very much.
Sampler Publications: Yes, the magazine Country Sampler! I could have been a rock star but made bad choices and worked in data entry instead of the art department (television).
McDonald's- for my husband. His managers asked me to go home and stay there.
The Library- for 9.5 years and the longest I have worked anywhere. Loved that job. But not the people I worked for.
The Greenhouse- this is where I am now. Used to be I couldn't wait to go to work. I think now it's more the wear and tear on the old bones and joints. This is a very physical job outdoors. That takes a toll.

My favorite jobs are the ones where I am left on my own. Teach me how to do something and then let me do it. I will never let you down. Any job offers out there???? Some have suggested substitute teaching. I can't see them leaving me alone with teenagers and I certainly wouldn't teach small children but it is tempting. I could possibly teach them to spell. The old fashioned way. Remember? Definition. Sentence. Spelling Test. Lord what a hoot that would be and how they would hate seeing me arrive in their classes.

It Rained Last Night

I won't be needing the watering can today. Riley is behaving badly, barking. I think he is learning about barking at day care. Just like small children going to school learn behaviours that aren't something parents enjoy. I don't mind him barking at the back door when he is done doing whatever he does out there. I sometimes forget he is outside and a few barks remind me to let him back inside. But running around inside the house barking isn't something I appreciate.

I am slowly waking up. My blood seems to be moving like thick molasses this morning. I slept well and awoke rested but I'm not full of energy today (so far). No blog posts to read, no comments, no interesting news in the "top stories" section of my Google page, no email. Which is a bummer in the summer. It means everyone is out doing interesting things.

I don't see many interesting things happening during my day today. I am tempted to clear off a surface, somewhere, and paint fabric today. I had wanted to ask G to help me set up sawhorses and an old door for a painting work surface in the garage or out on the driveway. But I forgot and he looked tired yesterday (and cranky). Clearing a space in my workroom is self defeating as the amount of cleaning up involved will take all the time I have for the painting itself. Yes, It would be clean for the next painting opportunity, I hear you saying, but then I will feel terrible about not being able to go and paint.

I have carpet vacuuming to do this morning. Then a visit to the library and hopefully a book for ME to read. G has an unending supply of books waiting. I admit to not liking most books. People recommend stuff and I really hate the books. Of course, "people" wouldn't read what I like. So when I find an author that writes a book (a sentence, a paragraph) that I enjoy reading, then I am over the moon happy. So vacuum and library.

Yesterday a co worker cleaned the lunchroom and bathrooms at work. It smelled bleached.
The walls were washed. The window sills spotless. The sink was shiny. The tablecloth wasn't sticky. There were less flies. Lovely. I thought about what a pleasure it would be if when I walked into my house, I was greeted by that same bleach smell and clean surfaces. I should mention that, at work, when someone cleans the lunchroom, they throw away everything that looks "passed expiration". And that adds to the wonderfulness. An empty, bleached clean, slate, so to to speak. A stranger in my house would throw away so many things that I can't seem to get rid of. My refrigerator is a regular freak show inside.

I have enough zucchini to make a half recipe of pickles. I just need a few jalapenos. Do I want to get the canner out and all that mess? This is when a cool, dark basement with a sink and stove would be very nice to have.

I also have to make something to eat for dinner tonight. G wants pizza. I'm thinking a nice cold glass of beer would be nice with the pizza. I need olives, cheese and mushrooms. And beer.

Watched White Collar last night (snore) and the Covert Affairs (snore) premier. Our new little spy "traveled all over the world" for years on whose dime? She lives with her sister. Over the top wealthy if the "dinner party" was any indication. Large platters of food. Catered?? And tons of wine. Fantasy life and now a Spy for the CIA. Not as good as Alias. And the mystery boyfriend, the real reason she was hired as a new spy, isn't that handsome or dangerous. I give it a 3 out of 10. I did guess she would go back into the hotel for the $850 Leboutin shoes. Red soles. So Sex in the City. And G and I wonder if our little spy is wearing foam butt enhancement under the pencil skirts. What did you think?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Peas, Please

I managed to pick enough little pods to shell for 1/2 a cup of peas. Hardly enough from the whole seed package to make a good meal!

Today, at work, I got to dispense a 50 pound bag of Osmocote to all the perennial yard plants. Another employee got to give Osmocote to all the nursery yard plants. Thank goodness it was a "sort" of cool day. I still had to answer all the calls relating to bugs and diseases. I used a plastic drinking cup as my dispenser. Ended up using the last little bit on the very last plant. Pretty good, huh? I was chosen because, of all the people working, I was not likely to be worried about reproduction of the species. This fertilizer can cause sterility. Little time release beads of fertilizer. Who knew? Did you?

Tomorrow is my day off. I have to go pick up books at the library. I may shop at the grocery. I may stop in at Goodwill to see if there are any shorts or sleeveless shirts in my size. And I will be weeding the garden and hauling the weeds into the woods. I want to throw them in the compost but G says they will grow and make an even worse problem. People turn grass over and it decomposes. And I will walk Riley.

G is serving up the takeout Chinese. I'm clean (shower) and very sleepy. The windows are open because the air outdoors is cooler than the air inside the house. Feels good. See you tomorrow.

Muggy. Buggy. Sluggy.

Yesterday was a "Blue Sky" day. No clouds. Sun but not too hot. I wasn't drenched in sweat at work. Then it rained. And, this morning it is overcast, foggy, high humidity, no breeze and BUGS. This summer we haven't had much of a break--a breather--. I did sleep better last night; have been sleeping every other night. Which means I'm cranky and crabby every other day. We haven't been eating very well either. I made mushroom pasta for dinner last night. G hadn't had any lunch at work and I had packed a container of melon chunks for my own lunch yesterday. Not enough. I thought I would eat something when I got home from work at 2.30 but there wasn't anything. Oh, there was food, but nothing I wanted to prepare or eat.

I am working up the courage to go into the garden this morning. Bugs. I know I have to check on things and see if I have squash, peas, cucumbers, blueberries that need picking. No tomatoes yet. The daylilies around the garden are blooming. Apricot. They used to be up near the house but I pulled them all out one year, planning to toss them. G planted them around the garden fence. I think I would like another color. I have a morning glory and a white cosmos flat to plant in the ground. Today was the day I was going to do that. Bugs. Bug bites. Itching.

I went out and picked peas, two zukes, three cucumbers and a half cup of blueberries. I have two new mosquito bites. My newer squash plants are producing small, baby squash and the four older (not by much) plants are only producing male flowers this week. I packed my lunch and a jar of iced tea and a freezer bag of ice cubes. I'm dressed for work but not enthused. Riley is wanting to leave for doggie day care as he has roamed the yard and done everything interesting already and he's hot. Day care is air conditioned. (11.18)

I watched television last night. AMC has a Mad Men marathon leading up to the new season of Mad Men on July 25th. The Closer is back. Rizzoli & Isles had it's premier. I don't read Tess Gerritson. And this show won't be changing that. White Collar and Covert Affairs are on tonight. I love cable tv. They have good stuff on in the summer while the networks have their thumbs up their butts. I do watch Wipeout. But no more Big Brother for me. No more Reality shows for me. It disturbs me to see stupid people get all this attention.

One of our local schools had poor math test scores for the second year and the No Child Left Behind rule has kicked in and we are getting a 50K "Consultant" to tell the school teachers where they are missing the boat. 50K is how they "fix" the problem. The Teacher's Union is the problem. The time for unions has come and gone. We need more of an "open market" concept in today's schools, fresher, younger teachers. 30 year veterans protected by the unions are tired, bored and just coming in everyday waiting for retirement. Let them go. Let a motivated teacher do the work. Poor results? Let them go. And that was a "free" consultation.

Work. Slow. Boring. Tedious. Three days of low customer counts. Our store is hot. Anyone leaving home in the past three days is heading for air conditioning. And if you buy plants then you have to plant them. Unpleasant. Not rocket science as to why we are having no business.
But our leader is thinking of having a "sale". A little late I think and with no advertising who will know? I spend the day with a hose watering, watering, watering. And then with scissors removing spent blossoms and bad leaves. Yesterday I moved all the herbs. Now they are all on four tables instead of six. And all the bad looking herbs have gone bye bye. Today, I have the "don't I look pretty" table to renew. Stuff sells off the "don't I look pretty" table.

Dinner tonight? I have no idea but Chinese takeout sounds good.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Germinating Ideas/ Removing Clutter

I added the discarded brown Kraft paper I brought home from work yesterday to the manila envelope strips and increased the color saturation on iPhoto to 100%. The cloud cover today is limiting the amount of color the camera can pick up, even with a skylight overhead. Making art from these scraps of paper is creative and easily done. Not a "big" project. A paper puzzle.

I am removing items from the desk area today. The clutter is bothering me. I want SIMPLE. I want CLEAN. Not necessarily PLAIN but less complicated. I wrote in my journal this morning that it may be time to rent the dumpster and start cleaning. I need to find a nice storage area for all the empty jam and jelly jars I have saved here on the desk cubicle's shelves. We (G) seems to eat an enormous amount of jam and jelly.

G & Riley have gone outside. Riley thinks they are going for a walk. G knows they are cutting the grass before it rains again. 80 degrees and humid. Ugh!

I am thinking of making potato salad. The faux German salad my mother made. Potatoes. Bacon. Onion. Vinegar. Oil. Lighter. Less seasoned. My mother just didn't season things. In her later years she added more water and less vinegar to her refrigerator pickles. I made them for my dad and he was shocked at how tasty the pickles were (with the correct amount of vinegar) and how they tasted like the "old days". Mom always made breaded (cold) pork chops (not chicken), the potato salad and sliced tomatoes when we went for a picnic. We never bought food at any of the amusement parks or beaches we went to in the summer. We had cold watermelon out of the cooler for dessert. All my happy memories are of the food we ate.

I finished my book and have nothing to read. I can always dig around in the book cupboard and find a paperback to reread. Library is closed on Sunday. I'm digging around in the box of book sale books I purchased. Cottage Style Decorating at the moment.

I have shirts to iron. Potatoes to boil. Floors to vacuum. Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers to make. And there are always weeds to pull in the garden if I feel like being dirty, sweaty and bug bitten.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Haven't Met You Yet.

The song playing on the car radio as I drove home after work. The artwork made quickly just for you out of cut strips of manila envelope. The things I do for you.

I found G & Riley sound asleep when I got home at 5.30 so I threw all the darks and my work clothes in the washer and set it to go and then took a nice hot shower and scrubbed my feet till they were almost clean. Crocs are nice but they sort of scoop dirt up and it coats your feet and toes, especially when your feet/Crocs get wet, dry off, get wet, dry off etc. I've given up on getting all the dirt out from under my finger nails. Even though the nails are cut as short as possible. I'm so tired. I spent most of the day damp, hot and covered in dirt. I washed off twice at work.

Instead of dinner, we are going to have ice cream. And we're going now. And then I plan on reading to the very end of my book. Tomorrow I can sleep late. It rained today and we are hoping it cools off now, just a bit.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Running On Empty Friday

I seem to have used this post title before. I think my own blog would be an adventure to read- I am a stranger to myself. Yesterday, in the garden, weeding, I wanted so much not to have to return to work today (or tomorrow). I think I am getting ready to be unemployed again and able to walk the dog each morning, make art, paint, weed my many gardens and get on with the work inside my head. Instead of wasting hours, days, weeks, months away from home doing what? Watering plants, arranging pots in attractive grid patterns, standing around waiting for it to be lunch time or going home time? Work: should be productive, meaningful.

I am now defending unemployment with that side of my personality that demands I be a productive member of society and work and be paid for working. The Yin and Yang of my life. I am never not doing work. Here at home I work really hard and for awhile working somewhere else was restful. But, what has happened is that my home and the yard have gotten away from me (us) and my yard looks almost abandoned. Hell, it has been abandoned. Weeds outnumber plants. There is no beauty here.

And dogs shouldn't have to spend all day at doggie day care. I wish you could have seen Riley's face, ears and eyes when he "asked" to go for a walk in the woods with G yesterday. Yes, it was hot. Yes, he was pestered by bugs. Yes, he did go in the big mud pond and get completely filthy. And Yes, he had to spend the remainder of the day trying to keep his eyes open. But, he was happy.

I picked blueberries yesterday. I would have missed them. I'm only seeing the need to water and weed and not seeing the miracle of what is happening in the garden beds. The roses. The blueberries. The fullness of the pea pods. The little cabbage heads. Tomatoes.

This isn't the way I want to spend my time on Earth. Waiting for lunchtime and going home time. That's not productive work.

I'm reading a new Nordic author. Jo Nesbo of Norway. His detective/police man is Harry Hole. A drunk who drinks because when he sleeps he has terrible nightmares. This book is number three and foretells the plots of one and two. I need to see if I can find one and two. I like Harry. And now that I have gotten into the way Jo writes, I am enjoying the work. It's July in Oslo in the book so the weather is the same as what I am experiencing. Hot. Steamy. Uncomfortable sleeping. Harry really drinks a lot. I would never do that. I have genetic markers for alcoholism. I live in fear of taking one drink too many and falling into that pit.

I have now spoken to two banks and mine was a friendly chat and the bank in Ohio was not. I hung up feeling like a felon. They even suggested I contact an attorney. Time to pack my lunch and go to work.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Surrounded by Yellow

Lemons for cooking and squeezing into iced tea. These lemons were 25 cents each this week at my supermarket. I may squeeze one into some homemade hummus.

Calendula flowers that I clip and dry. The petals can be combined with olive oil and steeped to release the "stuff" which is then mixed with melted beeswax to make a healing salve. I have to remember to keep the dry petals out of direct sunlight.

My four poster bed with white linen sheets and a whole pile of down pillows. We are thinking we need a new mattress as you can see exactly where we sleep. Or else the middle hump is created by the little legs that hold up the middle of the bed frame. G and I turn, flip and muscle this big mattress around every few months. Aerobic exercise.

I think I mentioned digging up my Graham Thomas rose, finding it had one small root and moving the rose to a raised bed in my garden, hoping it would thrive and prosper, eventually. Well, things have looked mighty dicey but yesterday I noticed (among the weeds I was pulling) that Graham Thomas had four or five buds and one was open, smelling divine. There were Japanese beetles crawling all over the open flower so I clipped it and brought it inside to enjoy. I stick my nose into the petals every time I walk past. Smells so good.

Harvested from the garden yesterday and destined to be sliced and fried with onion until a deep golden brown and then piled on white rice along side some fried chicken and sliced tomatoes. Memories of the six years we lived in Georgia on a plate. Minus really good juicy peaches made into cobbler for dessert. I'm more sophisticated now and would add raspberries to the cobbler.

Yesterday I was in a Benadryl fog (a good thing) and managed an hour of weeding and gardening (spraying Sevin on my roses and the beetles) before I dragged myself into the house, dirty and sweaty, to take a shower, dress in shorts and a tee and turn on the telly and watch Law and Order CI and cooking shows (sipping iced coffee) until G got home at 5.30. I couldn't focus my eyes enough to read. Riley was good. He napped. Dog Days.

We had a nice dinner with friends last night. Good Margaritas. Good BBQ. Good Sweet Potato Fries. And finally Good Key Lime Pie. Today is G's day off and we'll be "doing things". I have no idea what. I would like to buy another fan. Another sleeveless top. New Crocs. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My Best Friends

I got more deer or horse fly bites yesterday. On my left elbow, behind left knee and back of left shoulder. It took less than 10 seconds. A sharp pinch each time and it was too late to do anything. AND, I was working outside in 90 degree sun. The greenhouse was way hotter. I think it might have been 110 in there. I kept drinking water and dunking my head in the bathroom sink to cool my brain off. And I was unloading watered (wet/heavy) trays of plants off four large truck carts. Miserable.

Dinner was cold. Tomatoes from a local indoor provider, Backyard Tomatoes, a ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh picked garden basil and a French Baguette. Everything dressed or dunked in good olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Lovely.

Tonight we are meeting friends at our favorite BBQ place for talk, laughter, drinks and good food. In that order.

I bought a bunch of bananas yesterday (my third visit to the grocery) for 55 cents a pound. I have to eat them quickly before they turn gross and brown. I had one yesterday as a late afternoon potassium pick me up. And a second this morning. I like to eat fruit on hot days. I have a big melon waiting to be sliced and chunked for the fridge also. The watermelon looks all battered and mushy in the grocery. I can only buy a quarter or half as it's just me eating it. Slim pickings. Even the packaged chunks look awful. I like finding a decent looking platter of fresh pineapple, melon and watermelon. My lunches have been yogurt, Grape Nuts, canned sugar free peaches and frozen raspberries. I forced myself to eat lunch yesterday.

As a child, I remember walking to the local cold water pool on summer mornings for a day of swimming. Then reading on the front porch glider, eating a fresh picked tomato or a big cool wedge of watermelon. Just before sunset we would look for enough pennies for two popsicles and split and share them between the four of us (after walking to the corner store to buy them).
Remember when there was a small store in every neighborhood? Remember when popsicles cost 6 cents? Remember when a summer day lasted forever?

I was reading the Smitten Kitchen blog and found a recipe for zucchini galette. The pastry has one full stick of butter to one and a quarter cups of flour. Good thing I read the comments, as there is a great deal of smoke created in the oven as the butter melts out of the pastry. I think I'll skip this recipe. I did like the zucchini combination with ricotta, basil and mozzarella in the filling. I will think about an alternative crust. I never use that much butter. Never. When a recipe starts with "one stick of butter" I move on to another. And to use 2 and 3 sticks like Ina Garten does? When are Ina and Paula going to have heart attacks? I did find, in the comments, a pastry recipe with one cup flour and a third cup lard.

Lard is supposed to have less bad stuff than butter has but it's LARD. My grandmother fried everything in lard. I suppose she baked with it too, but with her European background, she never made pie. She made divine apple strudel from scratch and plum cake. And fried donuts.

I have to decide what to do for the remainder of the day. I woke to dog barking at 6am and G helped me open the packaging so I could take a Benadryl. Next thing I knew the dog was barking again because he thought 9 am was late enough for me to be sleeping. He keeps going outside but it's way too hot for a black dog. I haven't turned on the garden sprinkler yet. I plan to go out and check on the depth of moisture in the garden to see if things need a drink. G said it looked "moist" out there when he visited after work last night. I don't want to get it too wet and start having different problems in the garden. But I do need to check on my beans, peas and the squashes. And cover the Brussels sprouts with Remay.

I have another Swedish author to read. Jo Nesbo. I'm hopeful. And G has several pint jars of iced coffee in the fridge for me. He is making an effort to "take care of me" these days.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Today was a miserable day at work. Over 100 degrees in the greenhouse and 90 outside. Watering plants that dried out immediately. No customers. I felt sick. Tired. And I was eager to take my employer up on his offer "to go home whenever you want, now that the afternoon crew is here". Tomorrow, I'm the afternoon crew. No reprieve.

G's day was SO much worse. The AC at the McDonald's stopped working. 95 degrees in the restaurant. UGH! The coolest spot in the kitchen? The GRILL. It has updraft vents.

I had Kraft Mac & Cheese for dinner. G had a packaged Italian Risotto. Easy cooking.

My day, tomorrow, is full. Take Riley to doggie day care, then back into Town for my 10 am haircut, perhaps some shopping at the Farmer's Market, then work from 12 to 6 in heat worse than today. Then home to shower and fall down and not get up.

My sprinkler set up is working. I turned it on this morning and the vegetables made it through the day with an hour's worth of water. I watered again when I got home. I have about 10 small yellow squash on two plants. I think they should be ready to pick by Wednesday or Thursday (and I will be slicing and frying them with onion). I have one more zuke getting ready to pick tomorrow. The zucchini grow much faster. Pea pods on the pea plants. The Kale and Swiss Chard are growing like crazy! As are the weeds. My garden is making me so very happy. My cabbages have started to make heads!!!!

I moved my sickly (near death) $5 clearance Graham Thomas yellow Austin Rose to a raised bed in the veg garden. It had one root. Now, after I cleared all the weeds, I see that the plant has three rose buds. What a trooper! I had another Graham Thomas many years ago that grew to be 8feet tall and 8 feet wide. The yellow roses were fragrant and gorgeous. That rose died of root rot when we had a very wet spring. I loved that rose.

I'm going to go watch television and fall asleep. I stayed up very late last night reading (finishing) my book in one day. Once I start reading I hate to stop.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Say Hello!

G carried several boxes of parts down from the attic and then discovered the instructions were missing. I found the booklet in the warranty drawer. Whew! After several hours, G took the grill for a test ride and everything worked so we grilled the first burgers of the summer 2010 season. With bacon, grilled onions, cheese and pickles. No tomato. Very, very good. Even better that the grill was an end of the season discounted item @ Target.

It was very hot and steamy here in Maine today. I have the little window AC set on 75 degrees and it's keeping us cool. The house is very well insulated. Tomorrow. Work. Not looking forward to it. Taking a half gallon jar of iced tea to work along with a large bag of ice. Riley will keep cool in the air conditioned day care. And I will have a nice cold shower when I get home. The garden has it's sprinkler in place so I just have to make sure all the porch plants are wet and cool before I go to work. Going to roll them into the shade for the day on the garden cart.

My fly bite is going down in size and "weeping" which is excellent. Means it is drying up. While G built his grill, I was reading. A very good romance, mystery, time travel book that I recently found. I read it long ago and forgot the title and author. Searched repeatedly. And found it last month. So good to be reading it again. Sinful, summer reading pleasures. Almost as delicious as ice cream.