Monday, July 31, 2017

Right Now July 2017

Here's what is going on in my world on this last day of July ...

Cheered by - All of my brightly blooming black-eyed susans

Surprised by - Little apples in one of our apple trees! The tree has some kind of rust, and the deer or squirrels might get them first, but at least I have a photo to prove I can grow apples.

Walking a Bit Faster - When I see fronts like this coming up behind me. I hurried home and still got wet!

Looking Back At - The deer photos I have taken in the past week

Watching - The tree-trimming crew taking care of our big oaks. Sadly, I also watched a big branch crash down right on our picnic table. Better the table than the roof!

Learning - That poppies don't last very long. I saw this pink one in the morning, but this is all that was left when I went out to the garden in the evening. I just started these plants from seed my sil had saved for me, so I'm glad they bloomed at all, and will be watching for more flowers.

Grateful For - The profusion of roses that daily rain has brought forth. I love looking at these, and am planning to try and start more bushes with cuttings from this high-performing plant early in the fall.

Wondering About - This thrift store I visited where things were arranged by color. Livestrong bracelets, tennis balls, a bag of doorknobs, and a quart of Pennzoil seemed to indicate that I was in the yellow aisle. 

Making - Some perfectly healthy garden zucchini into something perfectly delicious with the addition of bacon and cheese

Contemplating - What August will bring

What's going on in your world right now?

Friday, July 28, 2017



 A few weeks ago I posted some photos of our garden string beans that I posed with Matchbox vehicles. Several people commented about the Matchboxes and I thought I'd tell you about them today.

They're mine from childhood, which means late 50s into the 60s. I have no idea how these came to be treasured toys; maybe because we grew up with lots of male cousins and played with their cars? I'll have to ask my sister because we both had our own Matchboxes in identical cases. Let's look inside.

 There are farm vehicles, like this combine, tractor, and wagon complete with bales.

The construction vehicles are some of my favorites. I used the snowplow to plow snow, put up the scaffolding in the Builders Supply truck, and connected the pipes to drain puddles.

The ambulances, police car, Coca-Cola truck, snack trailer, and garbage truck all performed valuable services in the Matchbox communities I built.

Then there are the cars with doors, hoods, and back hatches that open. The blue station wagon used to have a teeny, tiny hunting dog to go with the hunter, but he ran off somewhere over the last 50 years. I used to imagine that someday I would own a Mercedes, Rolls Royce, or cool convertible, but that has only happened with my Matchboxes.

I played with these fun ones a lot. Who wouldn't want a yellow convertible to tow their trailer and two boats to a vacation destination, and then hop on board a motorcoach to view the sights?

The roof of the trailer comes off to reveal a detailed kitchen and living room inside. I loved playing with all of them, and the detail, working doors and hoods, and little extra pieces only added to my enjoyment.

Many of the vehicles are marked with little green Bs on the underside, which means they are Bonny's and my sister Jill should not steal them. My sister and I both had our own Matchboxes, and we did play together and share, but I can also remember some epic fights about whose cars were whose. My mother painstakingly labeled all of our Matchboxes with Bs and Js from the Dymo label maker. I appreciated that as a child, and I appreciate all that tedious labeling even more as an adult.

They were fun 50 years ago and they still provide fun decades later. They are stored in my cedar chest, but I still play with them occasionally. What better way to deal with bumper crops from the garden (or tiny watermelons that won't grow any larger) than to dispatch all available Matchboxes and have a little fun?

Thanks for reading all the way through this picture-heavy post full of my childhood memories. Here's hoping your weekend includes a bit of the same spirit of fun.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Think Write Thursday

The Think Write Thursday topic for today is to share your favorite summer meal ideas, including recipes if applicable. Are you all about the grill? Or maybe you prefer salads. Do you use your crockpot a lot in the summer? Or would you rather have sandwiches? Tell us what you're eating and tell us how you prepare it!

For me, summer meals are all about the garden and the grill. I go out and check the garden first thing in the morning, pick whatever is ready, and prepare it as simply as I can. Meatless meals and salads would be fine with me, but John thinks a meal without meat is just a snack, so I also do easy things on the grill for him -- sausages, hamburgers, or chicken.

Our garden vegetables provide many of the things I find most enjoyable about summer, both the taste and variety. Sometimes I make zucchini in a crustless quiche,

sometimes cucumbers sliced in vinegar,

and almost always string beans, just steamed.

This evening it's stuffed peppers.

One of my best summer recipes doesn't involve the garden, but is grill-related. I don't remember where I originally got this recipe, but I've been using it for more than 25 years, and it is exactly what the title says, Very Good Marinade.

I almost always marinate ribeye steaks in it, but just last week I tried it on chicken and it was indeed, very good.

I'm looking forward to reading (and trying!) some other great summer recipes. What are you cooking and eating this summer?

Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Unraveled Wedneday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

Yup, it's the same old Hitchhiker. Last week, I thought there was a possibility I might be done by now, but the garden and lots of life have demanded much of my time. It probably doesn't help that I keep dreaming and thinking about my next Hitchhiker, even while I'm working on this one. I'm beginning to think of the next one in terms of some sort of magnum opus epic project. Not that it will be difficult or complicated, but if I can make it look half as good as it does in my imagination I'll be pretty happy. I won't describe it in detail now, because I want to really focus on this project and take pleasure in my present knitting, but I will tell you that my dream project involves these.

Ooh, shiny!

In reading, I have to thank Caffeine Girl for recommending Magpie Murders last week. It sounded intriguing, but when I went to place a hold on it at the library, I found there were 43 active requests on six copies! Of course, when I found out that I wouldn't be able to read it as soon as I had hoped, I wanted to read it even more! I ran (almost literally, on a 90° evening) to my little borough library when the very kind librarian told me that she had just finished processing a copy and would keep it for me until closing time. So far, it's well worth that sweaty trip. It's an ingenious mystery within a mystery, and all I want to do is read my book uninterrupted. Work deadlines may suffer, Hitchhiker knitting may be put aside, the garden may get wild with weeds, and John may have to get his own dinner, but I am immersed in this terrific book. 

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Now It's Summer

My first tomatoes of the season,

and my first tomato and mayonnaise sandwich.

Tomatoes are the reason I have a garden!

Monday, July 24, 2017


I wondered whether I should call this post "Weekending" or go with my alternate title of "Welcome to My Glamorous Life". It seems that many bloggers post updates on their weekend activities that are fun, exciting, relaxing, picturesque, or at least have plenty of photos of delicious food. Sorry, but I don't have any of that here for you today. Instead, I'm just going to truthfully tell you all the boring, mundane things I did (and hope that I can possibly provide more fun and excitement in the future).

The first glamorous thing I did was shop for ant bait and take it over to place in my mother-in-law's kitchen. She's been complaining about being overrun by ants and just didn't know what to do. Hopefully the Ultra Advanced Liquid Bait Technology will kill the ants in 24 hours as advertised.

That was so much fun I came home and paid bills. I pay most of them on line, but there are still an irritating few in that pile that require me to write a check, search for an envelope, apply a stamp, and trudge up to the post office.

While I was buying ant traps, I also got some new towels. After washing them four times they still had so much lint that I couldn't imagine actually drying myself off with them. Googling "how to get rid of lint on new towels" produced advice ranging from wash them with baking soda (didn't work for me), wash them with vinegar (also didn't work), or shave them with a sweater shaver (didn't try because that just sounded ridiculous to me). A trip to the laundromat for a spin through the commercial washer and dryer finally did the trick (or maybe it was just because it was the fifth time I washed them).

There was an exciting arrival of a recent Penzey's order. I do embrace hope; I do love people and try to cook them tasty food, and I also try to support companies like Penzey's that do the right thing. They don't just sell wonderful spices; they have a conscience and stand up for what they (and I) believe in.

To top off the parade of glamour and excitement, I scrubbed the kitchen floor, on my hands and knees with an old diaper. Traipsing back and forth from the garden to the kitchen can make the floor fairly dirty, and while I do mop it frequently, it looked like it needed a good old-fashioned scrubbing. I used cloth diapers for the kids and amassed a pile of diapers that make excellent rags. It was time to put them to use.

So, while it's not Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, it was my weekend and it was productive. Here's hoping your weekend included a little more fun and a little less scrubbing. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Into My Own

I worked at the library yesterday, luxuriating in the air-conditioned coolness. It seems that many people had this same idea, so after I sat down at the last open table, I gathered up the books that had been left there, ready to return them for reshelving. The Collected Poems of Robert Frost was on top of the pile, and I sat down again to look through the book. It fell open to this poem, which seemed a special happy chance to me. Wishing you a good weekend, filled with poetry, beauty, and a happy chance or two. 

Into My Own

One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew--
Only more sure of all I though was true.

~ Robert Frost

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Think Write Thursday

The Think Write Thursday topic for today is to write about what you do to beat the heat! We're deep into summer here and some of us love the heat and some of us hate it but either way we all have to cope with it. What do you do that works for you? Share your tips, stories and more on coping with summer heat!

I hate the heat, and I hate it even more so when combined with humidity. I try not to whine about it since that does make it seem even worse, but I am not always successful. Summer heat and humidity seems to sap all my energy, to the point where I'd like to just lie down with a cold washcloth on my head, but that's not very practical. Since summer's heat is a reality (and there is that "trying not to whine about it" thing I just mentioned), here's what I do to deal with it.

  1. Drink lots of cold beverages. Mint tea is refreshing, and even the sound of ice clinking in the glass makes me feel better.
  2. Try and get the hot chores done early in the morning. This means checking the garden, working in the kitchen (especially if it involves boiling water to make pasta salad or blanching vegetables to freeze), and mowing before it gets really hot.
  3. Wear evaporative bandanas. I'm not sure if these things actually cool me down, but they do keep the sweat out of my eyes. I wear them when I work in the garden, mow, and sometimes even when I work in the kitchen so I don't have sweat dripping all over. You don't have to tell me how lovely and fashionable I look. :-)
  4. Ignore John when he comes home and tells me his office was so cold that he had to wear a long-sleeved shirt and a sport jacket just to stay warm. Our house is an old one, without any existing ductwork, which means we don't have central air-conditioning. We do have a window unit in the bedroom so we can sleep, but the whole downstairs is open, so window units can't cool the space and the cost of installing central air in this house is incredibly prohibitive.
  5. If it's really sweltering, find a terrific book and retreat to the air-conditioned library. That's my plan this afternoon when it's supposed to be 95° again. I am taking my laptop to get some work done, but I've also got Grief Cottage and Magpie Murders packed in my bag to read as soon as I meet a couple of work deadlines.
  6. Swear that my next house will have central air and possibly be in Colorado where the dewpoint does not reach 75°F.
  7. Remember that in just a couple of months the delightfully cool air of fall will be returning and things will be better. 
So what do you do to cope with the heat? I'd love to try some new ideas and quit my whining!

Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I'm still knitting my Birthday Cake Hitchhiker, but it's almost time to start on the second skein. I like my hitchhikers with lots of teeth and plenty long so I can wrap them twice around my neck, so I almost always use a second skein. The excitement continues ...

I'm still reading for Book Bingo, and have finished Whispers Under Ground, and started the next book in the series, Broken Homes. I've become quite attached to a character in the series, Lesley, and I have to see what direction she is headed in. I'm also reading The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. It may sound like a crazy title, but it turns out that many of the show's writers have mathematical backgrounds and have written plenty of math into the show. Ryan has given a talk on math in the Simpsons and Futurama for entering grad students over the past three years, so I may need to ask for his slides and notes in an effort to make the topic more engrossing. It's an interesting book so far, just not the kind of compelling reading that I'm looking for at the end of the day. 

Carole and some other goodreads friends have read Grief Cottage, and it felt like just the kind of book I was in the mood for after I read the Amazon sample. I bought it on the spur of the moment and have been staying up too late to read it on my Fire; it is the kind of compelling book with that I'm looking for at the end of the day. I think I'm going to use it in the "That you want to read because of the cover" square on my Book Bingo card. The cover is dark and captivating, and makes an intriguing comparison with the large print cover on the right.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Eating From the Garden

Almost every morning I head out to the garden, take a look around, see what needs to be picked, and plan dinner around
what ends up in my basket.

I saw a cucumber or two.

We picked a basket full of string beans on Sunday, so there weren't any more ... yet.

Imagine my surprise when I looked carefully and gathered a decent-sized zucchini and ten cucumbers.
Now, what to do with them?

After a few hours in the kitchen, they ended up as cucumber salad (really just sliced cucumbers in vinegar, but my grandmother
always called it cucumber salad) and plenty of cucumbers spears for me to dip in 1000 island dressing.

I grated the zucchini and made a crustless zucchini quiche that honestly smelled so good I could barely stand to wait until it cooled.

We also had string beans and Napa cabbage salad for a really delicious dinner last night. I did a few sausages on the grill for John, but with vegetables this good and varied, who needs meat? Not me, and I'm looking forward to eating from the garden a lot more this week.