Thursday, August 17, 2017

Something to Cheer About

Give me a Z
Give me a U
Give me a C
Give me another C
Give me an H
Give me an I
Give me an N
Give me an I

What's it spell?

Why, zucchini, of course.
I'm thinking many people would not be cheering about zucchini right now as their gardens may be overflowing with them.
Over here, we are cheering enthusiastically over our very first crop.
To date our attempts to grow them have been unsuccessful.
One year the male and female flowers didn't do their thing, another year squash vine borers did them in.  In fact, after those failed attempts I swore there would be no more tries.  However, last spring I decided I was not ready to admit defeat.  I always thought they were easy to grow and it was ticking me off that I didn't have any luck with them.
So, I stuck a few plants in the garden and waited and waited and waited some more.  Nothing!
I checked out some YouTube videos about that male and female flower thing.  I headed out one day with my Q Tip determined to help them (ahem) get it on only to find out there were no female flowers in the bunch :(.
The other day I was tempted to rip out the whole mess.
Just for the heck of it I started poking around amongst those big leaves and there it was.
Oh, what a beautiful sight :).

The next day while snipping some basil I spotted another little zucchini peeking out at me.
I decided to harvest it promptly before it disappeared like most of my tomatoes have :/.
Once in the house it seemed a photo shoot was in order.
I added another element harvested from the garden, the zinnias.
Zucchini & Zinnias.  A happy summertime pair.

I'm wondering if it is normal for zucchini to grow and grow and then put out the squash late in the season?  If you grow it, what has been your experience?  Do you harvest throughout the season?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Timeless Lessons

Last Thursday was a big day in his little life.
His first day of preschool.
We, as the grandparents, could hardly wait to hear how he would like it.
We were delighted to receive a photo of him all dressed and ready for his new adventure.
As I looked at him standing up so straight and tall smiling so big, I couldn't help but be excited for him.  At the same time the thought went through my mind that I hope his school years will always be happy ones.  I felt that familiar protective mother instinct, yet it seemed more pronounced than I remember it being when my own boys were off to school for the first time.
Perhaps those of you who have been down this road can tell me whether our protective feelings become even stronger when it comes to the grandchildren.

While looking at a video my son sent of Jaxson singing a little song he learned at school, the news of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia came on the television.
My heart sank, my bubble burst and my fears for the future of our children and grandchildren became a bit heightened.
At times like this, things can feel rather hopeless.
I find I can only watch it for so long and then it's time to switch it off.  It may be switched off, but the image of that car slamming into the crowd of people is something that can't be unseen.  It stayed with me and made me wonder what happens to people that makes them that filled with hatred?

I don't pretend to have the answers, yet I find it deeply concerning how hatred and a lack of basic respect seem to be evident so often now, particularly online.  Frankly I am shocked at some of the comments people leave or in the ways they talk to one another.  We certainly don't all have to agree with each other but I think there is something to be said for "if you don't have anything nice to say...."

Sometimes when I want to be reminded of a kinder, gentler time I head for my vintage children's book collection.
This particular book dates back to 1943.
Some might think the information to be out-of-date.

I tend to disagree.
Instead I find it filled with timeless life lessons as well as charming illustrations.
As another school year gets underway, let's help them learn love and acceptance along with reading, writing and arithmetic.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Table Manners

Greetings Friends!

You may not realize this but we cardinals are a well-mannered bunch.

When we see that someone has cared enough about us to offer a bird buffet, we show up nicely groomed.  You know, every hair in place.

Before digging in, we bow our heads in prayers of thanks.

At times we get overly excited and drop our food.

That's okay because our large hummingbird friend is very patient with us.
He just sits quietly and allows us to finish our meal.

Speaking of friends, when we spot a friend waiting in line for the buffet we know the importance of sharing the bounty.

We fly into the nearest tree and allow others to have a turn.

After all, there is plenty for everybody.

Happy Weekend!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Come Along For A Cruise

A most welcome break in the heat yesterday had us eager to get outside and go for a boat ride.
There's plenty of room if you'd like to hop in and join us.

The sun is shining and the water is calm.
No Dramamine necessary today ;).

It's fun to see the different homes on the lake.
Something for everyone.
This one is ideal for those interested in a smaller abode.
Living quarters on top with the boat garage below.
The balcony offers a very expansive lake view.

For some the house is the boat.

For those who prefer to live large.

Or really large.

Oh, and what's this?

Why, it's a home for a bird family.
I'm guessing it's an osprey.

Now might be a good time for a lunch break.
We can do a bit of birdwatching while we eat.

Once in awhile we'll pass a small island.
We were half expecting to see Gilligan here.

We thought that this dock looked like a desirable location for watching the sunset.  We also tried to figure out which country's flag was represented on the right.  Does anybody have the answer?

I thought this white house with the blue roof was rather pretty.

However, this one had to be my favorite of them all.
Despite it's massive size I think it has a warm and cozy feeling to it.

The sun is starting to go down, so we'll be heading home now.
Thanks for joining us on our little cruise.
August is almost upon us.
Time to enjoy those late summer days.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer Morning

Two words for you today.
"It's HOT"
Way too hot to hang out in the garden for any length of time.
My garden time now is early in the morning or after the sun sets.
Even then, it's only for watering and light weeding.
While out there this morning there was a slight breeze which made it possible to linger a few extra minutes.
Just long enough for a little video.
If you can stand my first time attempt at iPhone video, I invite you to join me pondside.


There you have it.
Summer sights and sounds in my NC garden.
We'll get up close and personal with those flowers again once the heat subsides... at least to a tolerable level.
For now it's iced tea and A/C for me.
How about you?
Are you managing to keep cool?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Farm to Table

Recently one of our local grocery chains began a new program called The Carolina Crate.
the program allows the customer to select the option that works best for them, pay an upfront fee and then pick up a box of farm fresh produce once a week.
We liked the idea of supporting our local farmers and also receiving an array of freshly picked vegetables and fruit.
We decided to try it for a five week period.

Since there are only two of us, we chose the half crate option.
It's been a fun challenge to see if we can use it up before the next box arrives.
When the first box showed up bearing four green peppers, I was momentarily stumped.  I gave up buying green peppers years ago in favor of the red and yellow ones.  Soon a thought came to me . . .

~ Stuffed Peppers ~

Something my mom made often when I was growing up.
I made them once in a while as a newlywed, but had sort of forgot all about them.
We had two for dinner and two went into the freezer.
After all these years I have to say they tasted delicious.

 I was intrigued by the lettuce with the roots still attached.
Can't get much fresher than that :).
My first thought when I saw it and the heirloom tomatoes ...

Why a BLT, of course.

 One night I chopped up the yellow squash, red onions and the tops I had previously sliced off the green peppers.  Added some chopped baby bella mushrooms that I had on hand and grilled them all up together.  It was a very tasty side dish for dinner one night.

The next day there were just enough of the grilled veggies left to top our pizzas for lunch.
Naan bread crust, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese topped with grilled veggies and a minced garlic clove.  Yummy!
The idea for these individual pizzas came from here and it's a good one.

One of the crates contained two beets and several baby cucumbers.
The obvious choice for those seemed to be a Greek salad.
I used up the rest of the lettuce and added red onions and grape tomatoes (also from the crate).  It made for another fresh and tasty lunch.
For some reason I never buy or cook beets.
I'm not really sure why because I know they are good for us and I like them.
I think it may have to do with the mess of the beet juice.
After searching the internet, I opted to roast them in a foil packet with a bit of olive oil.  It turned out to be a good choice as the skins slipped off easily and were then tossed out with the foil.  No mess :).

For the most part the crates have contained vegetables.
Although each week there has been one fruit.
This particular week it was a cantaloupe.

That went nicely with my avocado toast and poached egg one morning.

We have two more weeks of crates to look forward to.
I'm happy to report that only one bunch of kale got away from me.
I've never been a fan of wasting food.
These past few weeks I've been thinking a lot of all that goes into bringing these nutritious vegetables from the farm to our tables.
In this little exercise it was my aim to honor the hard work the farmers put in each and every day.  

Show support for your local farmers.
Visiting farmer's markets or signing up for CSA programs are a great way to do that.
Thoughts on healthy eating are constantly changing, but one piece of advice that remains constant seems to be
Eat Your Vegetables.
We've been doing a lot of that this summer and for that we say 
Thank You Farmers!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Kitchen Counter Memories

While waiting for my chocolate zucchini cake to bake this morning, I got to playing in the kitchen.  

It started with this BAKERY sign spotted on the thrift store shelf last week.  It followed me home ;).  Since it seemed to want to live at my house, I felt it my duty to make it feel welcome.

So, while the real cake baked in the real oven,
it was a good time to play around with the play oven.

I suppose it may seem strange to some to devote kitchen counter space to nostalgic toys.  
For me, it's more than just that.
It's a spot to rest my eye while cooking and baking and poking a few flowers into a vase for the table.  A spot that takes me back to time spent in the kitchen with loved ones sharing favorite dishes.
Next to the play stove sits the little print shown above.
When I spotted it on Pinterest, it stopped me in my tracks.
Flashback to my childhood love of playing "house".
The girls at the table reminding me of my sister and I as children.

~ mini me ~

Perhaps it had something to do with the haircut.
Anybody else remember those bangs?
Ha Ha Ha!

Do you recognize anything else in the print?

If you guessed this, you're right.
Oops, wait just a minute.

There, that's more like it.


Well, it looks like the cake is ready to come out of the oven, which means that playtime is over for today.
The memories, however, live on.
Tomorrow will be another 4th of July celebration here.
Most likely the cake will be shared before the fireworks begin.
Another memory to be made around the kitchen table.

Wishing all of my American readers a safe and memorable
4th of July