Thursday, June 30, 2011


Oh well.

It's been a banner year.

Soooo....Now it's only June 30 and my frost date isn't until October/November if I push it.

What do I plant next!?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Working Through a Hypothesis

A few days ago, the boy came home to find this in the back yard. In perspective - you can see the other corner yard off to the right.

The boy: What's that?
Ribbit: A landing pad for a helicopter.
TB: Why?
R: It's part of your father's Master Plan.
TB: Oh.

And he left it at that.
The dog, however, eyed the bobcat with envy as it tore through the dirt and dug holes he could only dream of and lumped piles of clay in loose, lovely piles. He was in love.

Yesterday, the boy noticed all sorts of boxes in the garage.
TB: Mom, is Daddy putting in a pool?
R: Why do you say that?
TB: Well, there's boxes in the garage that say 'pool' and 'pool sand' and a thermometer and pool pump and then there's that circle in the back yard and pools can be circular. My hypothesis is that he's building a pool and that's my support.
R: What about your statement the other day that all of your friends have cooler things than you do?
TB: It's possible that was based on opinion.
R: Ya think (dripping with sarcasm)?
TB: It's possible (as nonchalant as you can get).

All it needs is to fill up and get a deck.
The man's right. The kids will surely get a lot of enjoyment out of it for a long time to come. I'll likely have to move those front two 3x3 boxes, but we'll see how it all does.

The morning comes early. Sweet swimming dreams.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Presto Pesto!

Last year was the first time I'd ever tasted fresh pesto. I think I had it once before on our honeymoon while in Venice, but it was putrid to say the least. I've steered clear of it since. However, a coworker last year asked for some of my basil to make pesto and gave me some of the finished product. If you remember, I had to enter a 12 step program after I was spotted eating it straight out of the container.

This year I planted..ok...overplanted...basil so I could make my own. I've pulled leaves off occasionally, but it was time for a major haircut.
That's a pretty large bowl full of basil leaves. So, I found I had enough to make three batches of the recipe, but since I don't have a food processor, I used the blender. Should have thought about that when I was making the hummus the other night.

It turned a lovely green.

I chose to fill baggies with just enough for a meal. Flattened like they are, the baggies will take up little to no room.

I sent my neighbor home with two bags and used one for our dinner tonight.

I topped it with slices from our next ripe brandywine. I tell you, there's just something different about that tomato. It's very sweet and not mealy at all. Very distinctive.

The girl and I tie-dyed with her school today. One of her teachers lives next door to the school. She and her husband have an amazing piece of property where they basically farm. I can't even begin to tell you how far this property goes and all of the gardens they have. Each time you think you're done, the tractor will pull over the next rise and there's another few acers planted. He asked me if I wanted a few peppers, hopped on that tractor and was gone for quite a while. He came back with a sack full of peppers and a cabbage head large enough to feed the neighborhood. We're going back on Friday and I'm hoping he'll let me take some pictures.

The morning comes early. Sweet pesto lovin' dreams.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Covet

Yes, we know that we shouldn't covet. Anything. I thought it was understood that Cherokee Purple tomatoes were an exception to that rule. Who cannot covet the first ripe Cherokee Purple, I ask you. I did. I coveted. I watched it turn from green, to a tinge of pink to a glorious purple beacon in the green foliage. I harvested it this weekend only to find the back half completely eaten off by a tomato hornworm. Fool thing was still chomping on it. I introduced him to the fire pit.

MAN! I hate those things. So now I'm back waiting patiently. We have, however, harvested a few of the chocolate cherry tomatoes. They're yummy, but the skin is rather thick.

My camera isn't working too well recently so there hasn't been many harvest pictures to shoot. Rest assured that I've been picking several squash/zucchini each day. I'm thinking of pulling the plants soon and then planting more of something else in their space...but I haven't thought of what yet.

I tried to use my cell phone to snap this picture of the cucumbers and squash I pulled in the other night. We'll make some more pickles Wednesday.

Yesterday was our All in for Autism event at Wild Bill's in Duluth, GA. The crowd was light - lighter than expected, but for their first outing, it was nice. Keychains for a Cause did pretty decent business over all and I was able to cover expenses and still cut them a check for the proceeds. Here's another equally poor picture taken with my cell phone of a custom lanyard order from yesterday. He couldn't decide if he wanted the black and white skulls or the green and black, so we split the differnce. It mailed out today.

I kind of like it! I'm glad they were kind enough to have us out. I'm really enjoy working with the different groups and their fundraising efforts. I chatted there for a long time with one of the employees at Wild Bill's and how he was there working for free as well and how sad it was that so many of the others wouldn't give up their time for charity. He came back out later and gave me 10 tickets to this Friday's Bucky Covington concert which was incredibly kind of him.

The morning comes early; check your tomatoes. Sweet keychain and lanyard dreams.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Big x2

Last night was go-time. We decided to try the first ever brandywine. They're crazy hard to grow in GA for some reason and we failed miserably last year, but this year looks to be much better. It looked big on the vine, but boy was it really big!
Look how big it is is comparison to the boy's head (should have waited for him to know what I was doing and taken a better picture). It's huge! The tomato, that is.

I sliced it up with some olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and mozzarella cheese and told the man to take the first bite.

The suspense was killing me. Was it going to live up to everything we'd ever dared to dream for? Did it measure up to everyone's rave reviews? I was poised for the action shot as the first bite went into the man's mouth and my camera promptly shut off for lack of battery. Nice. Anyway, it surely was different. Strange to me as I've always thought tomatoes all tasted like...well, tomatoes, but the brandywine was slightly different in a way I'm not sure I can explain. I'll try some more and get back with you. Did I like it, yes. Very much. I'm glad the plants are looking so well.

Now for the x2 of the post. There's something wrong with Big. He's been limping around since Sunday and groaning (not whining). Crazy dog just doesn't seem to care that he's a 9+ yr old Great Dane and he can't go throwing himself at the six foot fence anymore. My neighbor and I manhandled him into the back of my car - no easy feat when he can't put pressure on his front leg and the girl and I took him to the vet.

Apparently x-rays on the shoulder and leg are difficult - even more so since he's so blasted...big. He's got good range of motion in the leg so we're going to assume he either sprained it trying to jump the fence or it's arthritis and we'll treat him for that before springing on the x-rays. Poor thing is rather pathetic trying to limp around.

I'm off to pick some squash. I had nightmares last night about squash monsters. Nice, huh?

The morning comes early. Dream big!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Super Bug Girl and Exciting News!

Yesterday I found a tomato hornworm on the black cherry tomatoes. I have been trying for days to find the one that's on my cherokee purple plant. I can see his evidence (poop), but not the blasted worm. This morning's conversation went as such:

Ribbit: Come on, Girl. Let's go see if we can find that tomato hornworm.
Girl: Ok. I'm good at bug finding. I find those bugs, yes I do.
R: He's on this plant somewhere. See his poop? Is that him? No. Wait..Is that?..No.
G: Uh...Moooom...he's right there.
R. No, honey, that's a leaf.
G: No, it's not. He's right there.
R: Right where? Point your finger(I think she's totally off the mark, but I'm humoring her).
G: There! Just look.
R: No, honey...get your finger closer
G: Are you CRAZY!? You look. He's right there sticking his tongue out at me.

I got down to her level and behold: There he was, just as she stated. She didn't even bat an eyelash before she found that sucker.

R: Great Job!
G: Yeah. I know. (Pause) Mom, did you know I'm bigger than a mouse?
R: Yes, you are.
G: And Slade's my boyfriend. He's cute...and handsome, too.

However, given this look from this weekend...I'm wondering who the crazy one is, indeed.
Love all of the hairbows. Eat your heart out, Slade.

In other exciting news, exciting for me that is, I just got word Keychains for a Cause has been accepted to participate and help fundraise for the All in for Autism I-Pads for Autism fundraising day on Sunday, June 26 at Wild Bill's in Duluth, GA!
In addition, all sales from the website this week will also go to All in for Autism.

I'm so excited to be able to branch out and help with all types of fundraising efforts. Now comes the problem as it always is with showing up on-site to much of what types of keychains do you make to not wind up with so many that won't sell and therefore cut down on the proceeds I'm able to donate. I'll sure add a ton of these to the list for sure:

I'm also bringing a few of the smaller Autism ribbon made into lanyards. Those should be nice.

Hey, it's not even noon yet and we're off to a great day!

The morning comes early. Sweet tomato worm finding/fundraising dreams!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Harvest Monday - June 20, 2011

I'm so behind in reading and posting on blogs! Seems like we should all be getting some rest this summer, but I find myself more in the car than not. The garden is not being neglected...almost not. I've given up the squash bug fight. The plants are just about tapped out as it is and I certainly don't need any more. Every day last week I gave some to the other parents at tennis and I've pulled more this weekend and today. It's crazy!

This was what I pulled out of the garden on Saturday morning. I made bread and butter pickles with the cucumbers and left the squash on my neighbor's doorstep.
This was the haul from Friday, I think...

Here's last Thursday's goods.

And today....I picked my first tomatoes! I have my first two ever brandywine. Now, they're both not totally ripe, but they've started to crack, so I pulled them. The one in the back takes up two hands. We've had some fierce storms recently which likely aided in the cracking. The poor man down the road lost all of his corn in the winds.

I'll let them finish ripening on the counter. I can't wait to taste them. I hear they're supposed to be great. I did, however, find one tomato hornworm on the chocolate cherry plants and the carnage and poop evidence of another on the cherokee purple, but I can't hunt that one down to save my life. They blend in so well. The only reason I found the one on the cherry plant was because it was taunting me. I promise.

In other exciting news...well, exciting for me...I finally found the right ivory lace to start offering Osteoporosis keychains over at Keychains for a Cause. Ivory lace is the awareness 'ribbon' for Osteoporosis and I've finally found lace that's not just used as a finishing border.

The picture makes it look white, but it's ivory to be sure.

The morning comes early. Sweet tomato pickin' dreams. Hornworms excluded.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Beans, The Beans, The...Beans?

This morning I went out and harvested some more zucchini and squash. I've started pawning them off on the kids' tennis parents this week. I've gotten a few cucumbers, but nothin like that first awesome year where I was able to can jar after jar of pickles. Man, that was good eatin'.

Tonight was another of those...what? I have to cook dinner? Again!? Nights. Why they keep sneaking up on me night after night I'll never know. Tonight I fell back on the good 'ole cream of mushroom soup chicken, but had an epiphany. I rushed out to the garden and snagged some basil and chopped up a tomato that was getting too soft on the counter and it actually turned out better than good.

The boy suggested garlic bread which was wonderful to sop up the rest of the sauce.

The real purpose of this post is to discuss beans. The bush beans, dragon beans and fortex are coming in like champions. This is the second haul like this I've had in a week.

I've come to believe that if there's any bean worth growing, it's fortex. There's nothing else like it in the world. It's not fuzzy, squeaky or generally insignificant. It's nutty and soft and generally the best bean I've ever come across.

However, due to peer pressure, which I'm likely to ignore now in the future, I planted some asparagus/yard long beans. They took forever to start climbing, but now that they have, they don't sport a single flower....

They've made it to the top of the 6 foot trellis on top of that. There's not even a single bud where a flower is threatening to produce. There's nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Anyone with any experience with these things that can tell me what's going on? Is it a vitamin/mineral deficiency? Do they just take forever to flower (like my climbing lima beans from last year)?

Any help would be much appreciated. I'm about to rip them out, as healthy as they are, and plant some more fortex!

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bat Man!

We have bats in our belfry. We have for a while, but never cared to do much about them. There were only a few and we thought they would keep down the mosquitos in the area, so we let them be. However, now the droppings are making a mess of the driveway and garage door. The air conditioning filter needed replacing, so the man decided to deal with the bats while he was in the attic. I saw him come slowly up the stairs with a skullcap, handkerchief on his face, motorcycle jacket, gloves, jeans, boots, staple gun, screening and a ten foot pole (well the handle off of the broom). This, was war.
He got up there and said, "Oh. My. God." The two or three little bats had grown into 7-9+! He went downstairs to shoot them with a water hose to get them to come out so he could screen in the vent and several came out, but there were still more left. Once he got up there, he realized the reason the picture was blurry is because there's already a screen there so the bats are between the screen and the vent and don't have access to the rest of the attic. Looks like we'll be leaving them be. I wonder if, like EG said, we built a bat house if they'd migrate.

Sunday the girl came with us to the fabric store - it's summer, I'm bored, I need a project, but I'm scared to try to make something from a pattern which is what I REALLY want to do. The girl happened upon a bolt of Rapunzel fleece. I told her if she was a good shopper that I'd get her a yard, but she was convinced that the bolt would be gone by the time we left - as if - so she carried the entire bolt around the store with her. No, I could not help her. No, she couldn't put it in the shopping cart. No, not even if I let her help push. Finally, 15 minutes later, she agreed to let the woman cut off the yard and only carry that around. Apparently, it became the best idea she ever had. We got home and made the blanket - the perfect accompaniment to a 95 degree plus Georgia summer. Yes, she even had to bring it in the car on the way to tennis camp and bundled herself up in it.

I'm glad she likes it. I still need to put a decorative finishing stitch on the edges, but I'll have to pry it away from her while she's sleeping.

Question: When are asparagus (yard long) beans supposed to flower? Mine have grown the trellis but have yet to sport a single flower. They've been in the ground since March - I'd think they'd have given me one flower by now, right?

The morning comes early. Sweet Rapunzel dreams.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


A few weeks ago, one of the man's bands played a gig in Helen, GA sponsored by US Rider News. I think I posted this picture of the girl earlier on, but we just got some photos back from the magazine itself so this gets a second post. It was HOT. GA in August hot. The stage was in the middle of the sun and everyone else was clustered in the shade which was pretty far away. Everyone except for the girl, that is....
She made sure she was front and center for every song just dancing away for her daddy. There he is on the right in the straw hat.

She danced and danced through their whole set. The magazine editor's wife snapped some fantastic pictures of the band and the girl didn't mind mugging for a few shots, herself.

She sang along with several of the songs she knew with her one hand on her hip and the other shaking a finger at the band and other spectators to emphasize her words.

The man had his time in the spotlight as well! I think they were all tickled by her enthusiasm.

The boy sat with me in the shade, although he was rather miserable as he kept saying that he was "humiliated" by the girl's dancing and singing.

My take was rather that he was hot, tired and upset people were taking her picture instead of his, but hey, what do I know.

We had a great time over all; the boy caught some much needed sleep on the ride home and the girl and I kept right along singing to the radio.

The morning comes early. Rock on, my friends.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Wisdom of a Child

Yesterday, on the way home from dropping the boy off at baseball camp, the girl chimes out from the back seat, "You know....(insert condescending tone) if your garden were a real garden, it would have flowers. I'm just sayin'." She then listed the colors of flowers she'd put in if she had a flower garden. We had time and I had space, so we promptly turned around and went to the local nursery and bought yon youngin' some flowers for her own garden. She planted them all where she wanted them - putting the shade flowers where there was more shade and the sun flowers where there was a lot of sun. She dug her holes and filled them in and watered the plants, talking and singing to them all the while. Here she is by some of them.
And here are four she picked out for the sun bed.

There's no rhyme or reason to the flowers she chose or the pattern of planting, but she's pretty proud of herself. She's turned into such a big help in the garden and loves to harvest and look for bugs and bug eggs. She's small enough so that she can see under the leaves without stooping and it's like a treasure hunt for her. Yesterday she yelled, "Spiders! Spiders!" I was tempted not even to look since spiders are a good thing, but she was persistent.

Nope, not spiders...squash bug nymphs! So, to the chorus of "Get 'em! Get 'em!" off into the cup of soapy water they went.

Today while we were in the garden, she disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a shirt full of beans. She did a pretty good job for the most part in only picking the big beans. I guess I know what we're having for dinner tonight!

Lastly, earlier this week I posted that Keychains for a Cause was asked to make some lanyards for an administrator conference. The ladies were kind enough to snap and send me this picture of the lanyards in action!

I'm so glad they worked out for them. What a great way to show team solidarity!

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Zucchini Humus!

Before school broke for summer, a colleague gave me a recipe for zucchini humus. Last night, I had a taste for falafel, so I decided to give it a go. First thing you do is peel and chop a zucchini.
Pour a tablespood olive oil in a pan, sautee some garlic and the zucchini until it's soft.

Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons tahini, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt. The original recipe called for pinto beans, but that was just odd, so I added a cup of garbonzo beans instead.

Then....technically, you're supposed to put it in a food processor and blend the heck out of it - but I don't have one so I used a mixture of a potato masher and my hand mixer.

It surely didn't have that smooth texture, but it was still very, very, very good. The spices were the perfect blend. the zucchini doesn't give it any additional taste, but it's a good addition none the less and it got zucchini out of the fridge which is always a bonus. I doubled the recipe when I made it, so I've got some left over for pita chips. Yummy!

My friend from the spinach leaf problem post, "Auntie Daddy" as the kids call her, came over for dinner and good times.

So glad she could make it!

For dessert, we all went out back and picked some blackberries from the surprise bush that's coming over the fence.

The girl and I spotted a squirrel eating some off the bush this morning. She was amazed. She also stated that the garden was not a garden because it didn't include flowers and if it was HER garden she'd have after we dropped off the boy at baseball camp we went to fetch her those flowers. We'll post pictures of those tomorrow.

The morning comes early. Sweet zucchini humus dreams!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finders Doesn't Always Equal Keepers

One of my summer projects is cleaning out the playroom. The kids have so many toys that they've just outgrown - the boy moreso than the girl. Yesterday, the girl and I cleaned out about a third of the playroom and today, after dropping the boy off at the ball field for camp, we took some things to the Goodwill. While we were there, I thought to head in and let her spend some of her veggie stand money.

She found a wonderful rocking baby crib that she is just in love with. She played with it all day which is worth the price. She also found two books - one Little Mermaid and the other a Snow White. Score!

Walking down the aisle to the books, I happened upon this bandana skirt which I think will be just adorable with a white shirt and a jean jacket for school. Score for me as well!

Finding surprises when you're not looking for them is not always pleasureable, however. Look what we found in the parsley this afternoon.

They were so hard to get off of the stems and the texture of the stickyness just totally whigged (sp?) me out. Any idea what they are? The girl says they're "disgus-thing." I'm inclined to agree. One kept popping up orange horn like things every so often. Creepy!

The zucchini and squash is struggling right about now. Inspite of all of the bees doing their jobs, they are either not pollinating or the bugs are just prooving too much for the plants. I pulled three of them today that didn't look like they were able to put out any more viable veggies. They've been in the ground since March, so I can't complain. I've got about 7-8 small 2 cup bags in the freezer and some more in the fridge. There are several plants still out there so I think I'll still be happy with the season's output.

The morning comes early. Hope you find better things in your dreams than these caterpillars. YUCK! Man! Do I even eat any more of the parsley or just rip it out? I can't stand it!! Eeewwww!