Monday, May 31, 2010

State of the Garden Week - Post #1

Last week Sophie and I went to visit Grandma & Grandpa for three days. When we left, all was well in the garden. When I arrived home on Saturday, there was a HUGE, GREEN monster in my first bed. I was brave and moved in for closer inspection. This is what I found:

What in the wide world of sports? When I left this zucchini was about four inches long and skinny still. How on EARTH does it grow so quickly? Since research has told me to pick zucchinis when they're still small, I imagine this one may not taste so great. We shall see. I harvested it today and check this out.....

That is a huge Valencia orange on the left.

PSYCHE. It's a clementine. Whew.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Artsy Afternoon Delight

The box has been checked. YAY! I've been away from work for about a year and a half now and I finally did my SAHM* duty. I went to Michael's, bought some arty farty supplies and did the stereotypical art project with my child. As most of you know, this is just not my gig. We pay Small Hands Big Art and Soph's school good money to expose our daughter to tons of art projects (which I just happen to think is really important!). When I was small, arts and crafts was always my favorite thing at school/camp/etc. But doing it at home with my three year old just doesn't float my boat. It's something about the mess and the glue and the glitter being stuck to everything for months. Yet I couldn't let go of this pressure in the back of my mind that this was what I was supposed to be doing with my child. Well, it's done now. Going forward, we'll just stick to playing Matchbox cars and dipping our feet in the kiddie pool in the backyard......that appeals to me more and always makes my little Sophers happy.

Starting supplies (okay, yes, I really just wanted to take a picture of my favorite owl cup):

I found all these delightful little supplies in the $1 bin at Michael's. To surprise Sophie, I bought all of it in green. Her favourite colour (Valerie, are you reading?). To borrow Farrow & Ball's saying, "Any colour as long as it's green" ~ that would be Sophie's thought on color.

I love buttons and thought they looked so pretty in my little green dish. It also reminded me of Jennifer's post on her blog (which I LOVED!):
The artist's touch. In Sophie's world, MORE IS MORE. The exact opposite of her mother.
Sophie's finished product. WAIT, where did that orange come from??? This tricky child went and snuck in some Crayola markers while I was busy working on my own art card. Hee hee. How about those MASSIVE glue globs under the buttons??? Also, please note the backwards "S" that she drew on the left hand side of the card. She was so proud to show that to me. I also think that's a backwards "R" in the middle (in green)....that most likely signifies her favorite friend, Rex. Aaawww....
Note to self: Help child to draw letters in the "not backwards" form.
* This is the short form of Stay-At-Home-Mom, a term that I loathe and despise. I'd go into all the reasons I hate this term (hate is not a strong enough word) but you don't have all day and I don't like making enemies. As my mother-in-law would say, "Zum kotzen" (a phrase that I've used pretty much daily since the first time I heard it, for all kinds of things ~ thanks, Cris). Every time I use SAHM, which is actually never, I think of Heather Armstrong's (of Dooce fame) interpretation of SAHM. I promised myself I would not use profanity on my blog (sometimes I have to sit on my hands) and I won't. So here's a disguised version. Sh*t A$$ H0 MotherF*cker. Yes, that's much, much better. Thanks, Heather! (My apologies to any prudes who might be reading!)

Monday, May 24, 2010

I am obsessed.

Has it ever happened to you that you lose track of a song and then rediscover it years later? Oh and it feels so good. It's SO could you have ever forgotten about it? Well, that's just happened to me recently. Funnily enough, we were having dinner at WaterStone in Lynchburg (love that place) last month and it was playing on the restaurant speakers. I couldn't believe my ears. I LOVE THAT SONG. As soon as I got back home, I downloaded that sucker on ITunes. And I have played it almost every single day since. Not once, not twice, but OVER AND OVER (....) AGAIN. And LOUD. And I belt the lyrics out until I am just about hoarse. My poor dogs. They have sensitive ears. They must be SO TIRED of this song. They look at me like I'm half crazy. If they could talk, I'm sure they would say something like, "Mom, you are off your trolley". When it comes to music, I am pretty consistent....if there's a good quality song that deals with unrequited love or getting your heart stomped on, I will pretty much love it. I have a very tall guy named Jeff to thank for that. If you've never had your heart really broken, you will not be able to appreciate this song like the rest of us. But, if you have and you know what real hurt feels like, I recommend the below. It will add at least a few hours to your life. It is better than even the very best therapy. What a truly beautiful and sad song. A real classic. My poor husband doesn't even know it. But me.......I love it.

1.) Google "Misunderstanding lyrics"
2.) Click on "Play song from" in blue font.
3.) Adjust your speakers to play as loudly as possible.
4.) Sing at the top of your lungs. Lyrics below.
5.) Allow yourself to crack up laughing at your God awful singing voice.
6.) Feel free to look around every once in a while to make sure no one else is listening. But this is much more effective if you do it when no one else is home.
7.) It feels better if you play some guitar on the side of your leg.
8.) Repeat, as necessary.
9.) Tell me it doesn't feel damn good.

You can thank me later. How could I have lost this song? If I were a famous singer, I would remake this song.

Note to self: Add this song to the list of "All Things English" that you love.

There must be some misunderstanding.
There must be some kind of mistake.
I waited in the rain for hours.
And you were late.

Now it's not like me to say the right thing.
But you could've called to let me know.
I checked your number twice, don't understand it.
So I went home.

Well I've been waiting for this weekend.
I thought that maybe we could see a show.
Never dreamed I'd have this feeling.
Ah but seeing you is believing.
That's why I don't know why you didn't show up that night.

Oh there must be some misunderstanding.
There must be some kind of mistake.
I was waiting in the rain for hours.
And you were late.

Since then I've been running around trying to find you.
I went to the places that we always go.
I rang your house but got no answer.
Jumped in my car. I went round there.
I still don't believe it.
He was just leaving.

Oh there must be some misunderstanding.
There must be some kind of mistake.
There must be some misunderstanding.
Yes, there must be some kind of mistake.
There must be, there must be oh oh.
There must be, there must be oh oh.
A misunderstanding.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Evening Stroll

Last night I took the time to stroll through the garden at dusk. Everything is so beautiful at that time of day. The lighting is perfect. Just wanted to share a few of the things I saw....

The baby birds are gone. Yesterday was the first quiet day in a while. I missed those little squeaks so much. It seems much too soon for them to be gone already. I just hope they left in a good way and it wasn't a predator or something. They still seemed so tiny and fragile. Anyway, I've always been completely fascinated by birds nests. Even with a step ladder, I couldn't reach the nest so here's a peek through the branches. Isn't it lovely???

Here, all nestled in the heart of suburban hell, I consider us lucky. We actually have some tall hardwoods in our backyard. Here's a peek looking up through the canopy. Of course, a picture could never do justice but still....

One of our first Cherokee Purple tomatoes.... (HOW EXCITING!!!)

Since this is my first year growing cantaloupes, I am learning a lot about these plants. They seem to suit my rather Type A personality. I love how each branch of the plant sticks almost perfectly straight up. They also seem to be perfectly spaced. And there's a tiny little yellow bloom at the bottom of each one. Oh no, this means a TON of cantaloupes, right?

Aaahhhh, the joys of lavender. This is only my second bloom ever. But I LOVE IT. It's like a tiny slice of Provence right in my side garden. I am pretty sure I could be happy with a lavender farm. Just sayin'.....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Zestful Zucchini

This is my first year growing zucchini. I've always heard it's one of the easiest crops to grow in this area. Well, it appears already that might be true. Our plant has started blooming. We have blooms galore. Half male and half female. The female blooms have tiny little zucchini growing right under the blooms. We had a storm a couple of nights ago which knocked off most of the male blooms but I think we'll be okay. Here are a couple of shots of the blooms as of this morning.

For those of you paying attention, you're correct. That would be powdery mildew on the leaves. Below is an up close shot so you know exactly what powdery mildew looks like. Luckily, I have the folks at Renfrows helping me out. They said I shouldn't do anything at this point because the plant is already fruiting. So, hopefully (fingers crossed!), the mildew will be pretty harmless. The gentleman told me to not water so much and it may even go away all together. Yesterday, I did some research and found several different organic methods of dealing with mildew. If need be, I'll try those. My favorite one involves a spray made of milk and water. One part milk, nine parts water. Mix and spray. It's said that the milk provides the leaves extra nutrients to combat the mildew. Hmmm, this is all very interesting. We'll see what happens.
It appears that I'm going to encounter just about every pest known to man this year in my tiny little garden. I think last year I had a bout of beginner's luck because I did not have even one problem. Oh well. Renfrows says that each year will be completely different based on weather patterns and, next year, I may have zero issues again. I can only hope. Only time will tell....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big, Fat Broccoli Head

Yesterday was a big day at our house. We harvested our very first broccoli head. It was humungous!!! Ten inches across and nine inches wide. Yes, I measured it. I wanted to weigh it also but I don't own a food scale. Note to self: buy a food scale. Isn't it a beauty?

We boiled the broccoli because I knew there were probably some loopers buried in there feasting. I was right. We found about four. I've never inspected my food as carefully as I did yesterday. Regardless, I'm sure I ingested some extra protein.

Our resident chef, Alain, did a wonderful job cooking it. He did something with olive oil and lemon. It was might tasty. Talking about Farm to Table.....I harvested the head, Alain cooked it and it was on the table in less than 1/2 an hour. Pretty amazing. It left us all feeling really good. Me especially. The looper wars are almost over........(sigh of relief).....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Mystery Broccoli Eater

Aah, the joys of gardening. Today I went out to check on the plants and noticed that one of my large broccoli leaves was torn in half. There were pieces of leaf all over the ground. Oh my, I thought to myself, these brassica plants are really too much for me. First, the *@#$! loopers. Now this.

My immediate thought was that it was this little guy:

But I looked all over the ground and couldn't find even one rabbit pellet. And he's still a could he reach over the wood?

My second thought was that it could be one of the dogs. They were outside alone for an hour or so this morning. We all know how Hubbell loves his cucumbers. Maybe this was his way of getting back at me for growing the cucumber plant up a trellis!!! No, he's really not that smart. Good-looking, yes. Smart, no.

I was perplexed.

I took a break and went inside for a drink. I noticed a missed call from my husband so I called him back. As you might imagine, I relayed this mystery to him. And do you know what he said? "Oh no, that was me. I accidentally hit it with the weedeater." Hmmmm.

They don't cover this in Organic Pest Control books.... (wink wink, love you honey!)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My New Favorite Thing

This ruffled shower curtain. Ridiculous, right?

One of my favorite pastimes is shopping around at Anthropologie. Those folks have got it right. Their displays are to die for. I love the vintage pieces they find. Funnily enough, I almost never look at the clothes because I can never make it out of the house/garden area without getting into trouble. On a recent trip, I spotted this shower curtain. I almost bought it right on the spot but then remembered that I'm not working at the moment and I can't just throw down cash whenever and wherever I feel like it. It's quite pricey and would require a slight bathroom remodel but how beautitul is this? I can't even decide which color(s) I like better. And I find myself daydreaming of what else I could do with this "curtain". Please, someone, everyone, tell me I don't need this curtain!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happiness is....

* My four wonderful girlfriends who took me out to a birthday dinner and made me feel very special.

* A dog wash:

(Bet you can't guess which of my pups despises the bath!!!)
* In case you missed it, Heather from A Day in the Country commented on my blog. Yippee.
* My new garden sign:
(Just in case, you know, one was lost and thought they'd arrived at the shopping mall or the neighborhood golf course!!! Hahaha....)
* My very first radish:
(Our official radish taste tester, Alain, says it was delicious and flavorful but pungent.)
* This beautiful, downright ridiculously cute, baby bunny that is currently living in our front yard:
* Going to dinner to see my lovely friend, Kristen, who is visiting from Pittsburgh. Even better, learning that she's expecting her first child in October.
* Reconnecting with old friends at said dinner and inviting them over for a very enjoyable brunch on Sunday.
* Being pampered by my sweet little family on Sunday. If only one could have a Starbucks Chai, fresh flowers and the newspaper in bed every morning. Aaahhh....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Garden Photos!!!

As promised...
I created this wagon for Alain after he saw a similar one in a magazine article and said he'd like one for our garden. They're ivy geraniums and they are magnificent. Our neighbors lean over the fence to compliment it on a regular basis.

My very first broccoli head ever. I'm a proud Mama. It wasn't there one night and the next morning.....TADA! I love how that happens...

A shot from one end. I love how Hubbs always find his way into my photos. He's just checking things out. I'm so happy he's back home!!! Can you get over the size of those cabbage leaves???
You can also see my two compost bins at the rear.

A shot from the other end. Soph's new playhouse is in the background. How cute is that? I'm growing scarlet runner beans up that trellis in the center. That plant is supposed to grow big red blooms (along with the beans, of course). I can't wait for that!!!

Have I mentioned that our peach tree is currently weighed down by hundreds of peaches? We can't even believe it! Our fingers are crossed that they make it to harvest....

Friday, May 7, 2010


So I really wasn't sure about this blogging thing. Then I read somewhere how therapeutic it is to have a journal. Back in 2008 I started writing for myself (as you can see from my second post which I probably never intended to share with anyone). This year, as I started blogging again, I realized that writing my silly little posts makes me happy. And I finally wanted to share it with other people. In the beginning I was like Jim Morrison.....I wanted to sing but not turn around and face the audience. Truthfully I wish I had more time to "blog" because I really like it. Sometimes I have a hard time going to sleep because my mind is filled with all kinds of ideas for my blog. Plus I'm also such a novice that I'm embarrassed at how piddly my blogging skills are....especially after I read some of my favorite blogs out there (which I will share sometime soon ~ once I figure out how!). I also lose sleep thinking that I might have misspelled a word and it's now "OUT THERE" for anyone in the world to see. Ridiculous I know but so it is. I'm slowly getting over that! At the very least, I'm so happy to have a small outlet for my creative energy. Lately, it's about to bust out of me. It's funny how not working and having free time (free time, what is that?) is allowing my creative juices to flow to the surface. They were buried way down deep for a long time. Working in a Financial field will definitely do that to you!!! I'm still figuring out what to do with this new found creative energy but I guess that will come in time (and gardening itself is quite creative, no?). For now I'm just thankful that I have this opportunity and I'm so glad that some of my close friends and family are able to share it with me. If it weren't for my wonderful husband working so hard I wouldn't have this opportunity either and I love him for that!!!

SO, the whole point of this post is that I wanted to share my #1, top, most favorite blog. It is truly "BLOG-A-LICIOUS"! When I happened upon it, I was so giddy. Not only does this lady have a life that I would love to have (living on a farm, being a magazine stylist, etc.), but she has exquisite taste and very similar interests to my own. I look at her blog and her images, photos, etc are instantaneous inspiration. As you all probably know, I hoard magazines. I'm pretty sure I take this after my grandmother who also has an enviable magazine collection. I save my favorite issues for YEARS and post-it my favorite articles, etc. After viewing Heather's blog, I quickly realized that she had styled one of my most favorite features EVER. It's from a Country Living magazine from March 2008. The article is called "a rather SWEET LIFE" and it's about a lady in Fredericksburg, TX who is a pastry chef with her own bakery/cafe (one of my many dreams as yet unrealized!!!). She has enough land to own animals (pig, goose, chickens, dogs, etc ~ swoon!) and grows her own herbs and veggies. Back in March 2008, Audrey was not a happy camper. I remember reading this article and drooling over the beautiful photos and wishing I had a "rather SWEET LIFE" for myself. It's one of those very small things that inspired me to take a break to reasses my life and make it sweeter (we're getting there!). Anyhoo, Heather styled this feature and I could NOT believe I just happened upon her blog which is divine. For me, it's too good not to share. I hope you have a chance to see it. It's called A DAY IN THE COUNTRY!

Lots of love and HAPPY FRIDAY to everyone!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some Great Ideas

Too good to not share...

1.) When we flew to New York, the folks next to us had carried on some Cup O' Noodles cups. When the flight attendant came around to offer drinks, they requested hot water, poured it in and, voila!, instant lunch. And for free, without annoying airline charges!!! I know it's not the most nutritious lunch but it works in a pinch. It'll also get you through security without a body check (hopefully!)
2.) It's birthday season in our house. We've had about eight straight weeks of birthday parties. I know how hard it is to plan a party and to try and make it seem original. But I do have one small pet peeve. Goody bags full of junk. Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, crayons, coloring books and the like = GOOD. Small plastic bits made in China (think "princess rings" - PUKE, spinning tops, bouncy balls, etc.) = BAD. I usually throw them away within 24 hours and my daughter has never once noticed. It's such a waste. So I was pleasantly surprised when we went to a party today and received THIS in our goody bag. Now THAT is original. Thank you, Shellie!!!
Even better, it was made by my dear friend, Leslie. Visit her Etsy shop if you like this idea too! I think my favorite part of the whole thing is that a friend was helping to promote another friend's interest. I love that! And my daughter looks really cute in her Hawaiian Hello Kitty shirt.

3.) I was very comforted to know that at least one other person was reading my blog when Leslie called me last week to invite us strawberry picking with her family. We went and had a wonderful time. And she introduced me to this wonderful product:

Do you know how easy it is to make chocolate-covered strawberries with this? You just pop the container in the microwave for about a minute and a half to melt it, dip and pop the strawberries in the fridge. I recommend letting them set in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour ~ then PERFECTION. I plan to go to the farm again soon (they almost know me by name!) and make mine with chopped nuts. Can you say DIVINE??? Les/Shells, thanks for this idea. My family thanks you as well. Yum. Please excuse me while I go wipe the chocolate off my chin....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What I Will Miss

Being a parent is a tough business, especially when you're parent to a strong-willed three year old who just happens to be a born negotiator (remind you of anyone?). Although lately I am a sentimental old fart. I see how my baby girl is becoming SO BIG and I think more and more about all the things I will miss about this stage once she's older. Here is a short list:

* Her version of yellow: "Lellow". I understand this is one of the last words that toddlers correct on their own. No worries, I am in no rush.

* "Jamanas". It means pajamas. There are very strict instructions in our house not to correct Sophie on this one. She'll correct herself in time. For the moment, I'm enjoying it EVERY SINGLE TIME she says it. It's so adorable!

* "Baskettios". Yes, Spaghetti-O's. What childhood would be complete without them (at least the Organic Trader Jo's version!!!)?

* Sophie regulates her appetite ~ even when she's enjoying cupcakes or ice cream or chocolate. For the life of me, I can't imagine putting down 1/2 a cupcake. But OH how I admire her willpower. I hope she keeps it for a long time.

* The same as above applies to music, TV, noise, etc. Sophie knows when she wants quiet and is vocal about it. "Mommy, I want quiet now". I love that. Depeche Mode once said, "Enjoy the Silence" and I always do. Of course, this is a one-way street. When I say, "Sophie, I want quiet now", it never seems to work!!!!

* Sophie's ultimate compliment is "sparkly". When she likes something, she'll say, "Mommy, I like your shoes (or whatever)'s so sparkly!". Even when it isn't. So cute!

* The wiggle dance. You'd have to see it to believe it. My heart just melts every time.

* Sophie also has a very distinct "happy dance". When she's really happy about something, she does this little move.....and it looks kind of like the chicken dance. We see it most often when we're at the Turtle Beach (aka Hilton Head). Birthday parties and the ice cream shop also seem to inspire the happy dance.

* Sophie often mentions that, when she gets bigger, she wants to be a.) a taxi driver or b.) an ice cream shop worker.

* All she wants is to play with me. Never in my life have I played cars and dress-up dolls as much as I have in the last month or so. I don't understand how I get anything else done.

* I'm probably not supposed to like this but I do adore how Sophie screams in restaurants: "Mommy, I have to poopie" or "Daddy, I just pee-pee'd". Lucky for us, other people seem to find it cute too!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Going Loopy Over Loopers!!!

Happy May Everyone! I can't believe it's May already....

I've been negligent in posting updates about my garden. Most of you who give me feedback tell me you can't wait to hear about the gardening progress. Even though I've been babbling on about everything else under the sun, I HAVE been working in the garden every single day. Now that my garden has grown from one bed to three it does take a lot more work. At this point I have to water every other day and it takes about an hour or so. I don't mind that part though ~ in fact, it's quite fun. The interesting part this year has been my ongoing battle with the cabbage loopers. I only have one red cabbage plant and two broccoli plants. I decided to experiment before planting any more. Good thing! First off the plants are HUGE. And even though they've been in the ground for six weeks, there is not one head in sight. The cabbage leaves are as large as my head. Humongous. The more important part though is that I do have cabbage loopers. My approach so far has been to manually remove them from the plants. I don't want to spray (even organic spray) and I will avoid it at all costs. Lucky for me, I have a secret weapon. Her name is Sophie. She and I usually spend about 15-20 minutes a day searching for loopers, removing them and then disposing of them (although Sophie doesn't know about that part!). Sophie has gotten over her silly little temporary fear of bugs. In fact she asks me to "go look for worms" every day. She has an uncanny ability to spot ones that I simply look right over. Loopers are AMAZING little creatures. They are the EXACT same color as the stems on the plants. Sometimes they are nearly impossible to see. Sophie has superpower eyesight....she hones in on one and has it off before I can even lift my head. Yesterday we found a large one and I observed it for a while before yanking it off the plant. I was amazed at how fast it was eating a hole into my beautiful cabbage leaf. I definitely see why they are one of the most problematic pests for veggie growers. They can do serious damage fast. Yesterday I pulled off two worms that were covered in a silky string which means I caught them in early pupating stages. It's all so fascinating. I love that my daughter is getting some HANDS ON biology lessons at age three. And me too!!! Although I won't mention how old I have become.

SO, as of May 3rd, our garden has the below plants:

Beans, Scarlet Runner ~ started from seed
Cabbage, Red
Cucumber, Pickling
Lettuce (I don't enjoy growing lettuce and won't do so again next year)
Radishes, Early Scarlet with White Tip ~ started from seed
Red Pepper
Spring Onions
Tomatoes, Better Boy, Cherokee Purple, Sungold and Yellow Pear


Basil, Red Rubin and Sweet
Bee Balm

Ivy Geraniums
Loads of Petunias
Shasta Daisies ~ started from seed
Wildflower Mix ~ started from seed

It's quite rainy today so I'll take some pictures soon and post them.
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