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


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Solving a Pesky Little Decorating Dilemma

Sometimes when it's too hot or rainy to be outside, a little indoor puttering is what I find enjoyable.
Some areas seem to go together with ease, while others never seem to look quite right no matter what I do.
The sideboard in the dining room is just such an area.
I think it's tricky to have it look nice without being too cluttered.
The other day I was working on this little project.
The dining room table was covered in items I was adding and quickly subtracting from the composition.
The amount of time I was devoting to this one little area was frankly getting a bit ridiculous.
About then I decided to take a break from the whole thing and sat down to check e-mails.
I was intrigued by an offer I had received and went to check out their website.

The offer had come from
I was amazed by the large variety of artificial plant materials they have available.  Beautiful things for the indoors as well as outdoors.
I found it interesting that they even offer boxwood hedges of the artificial variety.  As much as I like boxwood, I don't care for their scent.
Since I wasn't looking for outdoor plants at this time and my sideboard project was on my mind, I decided to see what they offered that might work for me.
It didn't take long for me to settle on something
and in no time the two big boxes arrived on my doorstep.
The plants inside were well protected with bubble wrap and strapped in place.  No chance of them being damaged in transit.

The plants that I selected are called boxwood domes.
I love the shape and, best of all, no boxwood scent :).
The urn is made of a lightweight resin material. 
I think they could work well in many spots around the house.
In this case, the sideboard project.

I leaned toward symmetry with this arrangement, so receiving two of these plants worked out perfectly.

Two urns
Two lamps
& now
Two boxwood domes.
Add in a few things collected from around the house and I was finally happy with the sideboard.
I am now thinking the lamps and boxwood domes will be fixtures.
Changing out the little accessories from time to time will work to keep up with the seasons.  Maybe a few gourds added in for autumn, eggs and a bunny or two for spring and a Christmas platter and a few ornaments for Christmastime. 
It will be nice to not have to re-create the entire sideboard every time the seasons change.

**The product shown was provided to me for the purpose of this review.  Photos and opinions provided by me**
Thank you, Commercial Silk, for this generous offer.

If you are in the market for artificial plant material of any kind, you may want to check them out.  I am very happy with the quality of the product that I received.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day in the USA

A few (almost) summer shots for you today.
After hanging my flag this morning I took a little walk around the yard to see what's new.
My oldest hydrangeas are hard to see from the house.
The shrubs have grown so tall in front of them and shaded most of them completely.  I had just about given up on them.  So, it came as a surprise to see them blooming like crazy.  Another surprise was that the all blue shrubs are now sporting some pink blooms.  Blue and pink sitting side by side.  So pretty!
Not far from the hydrangeas the magnolias were also doing their thing.  Always worthy of a photo or two.
I think each phase of the magnolia flower is beautiful.
Above you can see the bud, flower and seed head.  Soon it will turn into an interesting looking pod.  The leaves on this plant are also beautiful.  Sturdy and shiny.  Oh, and did I mention the scent of the flowers?  Heavenly.

Speaking of heavenly scents...
I had always heard that gardenias provided just such a scent.
On the plant they seem to go from white to yellow in no time so I was curious as to how people have any luck using them as cut flowers.
Last week I cut a little bouquet and placed it next to my reading chair.  The stems are woody which usually equates with a short vase life.  I must say they didn't last more than a few days, but the scent was divine.  I think I would describe it as a slightly sweet, clean scent.  Kind of like the way I would like to smell in the summer :).
I don't know how I start a post about Flag Day and end with talking about scents.  Doesn't make a whole lotta sense (sorry, couldn't resist).  As long as I'm off track, I'll keep going in this direction.
Yesterday I visited the nearest department store on the hunt for a new summer scent.  It's been a few years since I bought perfume.
Estee Lauder had the gift with purchase going on so I headed to that counter.  As I sprayed the different choices, each smelled almost the same and most seemed to be predominantly the alcohol part of the equation as opposed to the scent.  Wondering whether my sense of smell was going wonky along with so many other body functions at this stage of life, I left empty handed.
As I went about my day and kept sniffing my wrists, I could detect the proper perfume scents.  Can't say I've ever had to wait that long to see what a perfume is going to smell like.  Makes it kind of hard to make a purchase.
I'm looking for a slightly sweet floral type of scent.  One that is not heavy or over-powering yet has staying power.
Would anybody care to talk some scents into me with me?
Do you have any that you especially like?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pond Maintenance and Water Gardening

Since becoming pond owners, we have added a new dimension to our gardening chores.
That would be the addition of water lilies.
It began when we were having trouble keeping the pond clear of algae.
It was suggested that shading more of the surface with the addition of the water lilies might be helpful so we sent away for a few plants and began a new venture.

We followed the instructions provided and planted one plant just to see if it would be a success.
It wasn't long until the flowers came and the plant seemed quite happy in it's new home.

While the plant thrived, the algae was still a problem.
So, the next year we added two more plants.
They also thrived and we enjoyed discovering new blooms on a daily basis.
This year we decided to add two more plants.

They arrived last week and Brett spent several hours on Saturday cleaning the pond and planting the new lilies.
Sometimes these events are recorded here on the blog to remind us of exactly when the pond was last cleaned.  That would be the case here.  If, however, you might be interested in the process...
here we go:
It began with emptying all of the water from the pond.

But first, the fishies were re-located to a temporary home.

After emptying the water, he scrubbed down the (slimy) liner and set to work planting the newest lilies.  One of the older ones had become so big it was escaping it's pot so he divided that one up into new plants.

The plants are planted into fabric bags.
Pebbles are added to the top to prevent the soil from spilling into the pond water.

Once the planting is done, it's time to re-fill the pond with fresh water.
For Brett it was also time for a (well-deserved) nap.
Glad to have that job behind us, we now get to enjoy the beauty of the flowers and keep our fingers crossed that the water stays clear.
Last night Brett made an after dinner run to PetSmart.  24 little fishies have found a new home.  First thing this morning I saw him out there checking on everyone's welfare.
Once in a while he grumbles about me wanting this pond that has added more work to his load.  I nod my head secretly knowing that he is finding a certain measure of enjoyment in this new "hobby".

Hope you all enjoy a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Having Fun With Flowers Today

When you notice that most of the flowers in the garden are at their most beautiful stage all at the same time, there's really only one thing to do, right?
Snip a few of these
a few of those.
Line them up for a little photo shoot
and then. . .

Pop them into the old milk bottle carrier
to be enjoyed on the kitchen table.


Pop a posy onto your table today.
You'll be so glad you did.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Carefree Summer Days

While sorting through our extensive photo collection, I took a few moments to reflect back on this one.
~ Newlywed
~ Summer Vacation
~ Soaking up the Sun while he was taking photos of butterflies on the rocks.  Unbeknownst to me he was also snapping my photo.
Looking at it now it epitomizes the days of being totally carefree in the summer sun.  How I wish I could still perch on a rock like that and get back up to standing.  Ha!  I also wish for that tiny waistline and the days when the sun was my friend and not something to be avoided.
The short shorts and suntans may have fallen by the wayside, but it doesn't mean that the carefree days have.  They've just taken on a different shape in these last thirty some years :).
For one thing, I am now the one chasing butterflies with my camera.  (usually in my trusty capris with plenty of sunscreen).

One thing that hasn't changed is my love of nail polish.
Summertime means choosing a pretty new shade for the fingers and toes.
This year I'm enjoying OPIs "Tutti Frutti Tonga".  A pretty, feminine shade that seems to go well with most of my summer clothes.

A little spruce up on the front porch provides a comfortable spot for enjoying many midlife pleasures.
~ Coffee in the early morning.
~ Wine in the early evening
or. . .

another place to work on the ever-growing books to be read pile.

Much like we look forward to Christmas for making special once-a-year cookies and recipes, I look forward to summertime for using fresh herbs in new ways.  In this case the chocolate mint was finely minced into a refreshing summer cookie.  An ideal accompaniment to an frosty glass of iced tea or cold milk.

Then when the peaches are at their peak,
it's time for fresh peach pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

In our hot, humid climate it's most desirable to water the container plants in the early morning or after the sun sets.

Sailing across the lake at sunset is perhaps the epitome of being carefree in the summer.

It may not be the official first day of summer, but it's June 1st and that's close enough for me.
Let the carefree days begin.