Thursday, May 31, 2012


Something I don't think about until after I have the first peaches of the season home and on my counter ready to be cut into... Cling Stone or Free Stone? I always forget to ask the fourteen year old truant  home schooler who sells me the peaches that but I always forget. If you want a laugh, ask a home schooled kid out working during the school day about "semantics".

But anyway. The magic word is "free stone".  Because otherwise you end up with "messy peach".

My peach buying skills need work  but with my home growl produse, I did much better, I went forward with my mashed potato plan with the guadalupes.

What? All the vitamins are in the skins. I also included an orphan all blue I had upstairs. I was kind of hopeing that it would lend a bit of color to the dish but it was over ruled.

I was a little worried because I just splashed some milk in and added what butter I had to the mix and of course, cooked them with garlic but, I was a little concerned they would be very good or the texture would be off or they would taste like paste because the spuds were not great. I was wrong, they were so good! Really, really good. I intentionally didn't over mash them because I like a little bit of lump in my potatoes, otherwise I think too smooth mashed potatoes look like paste. I made a really nice meal with these and then I remembered that I had a more than a touch of cheese sauce left in the fridge that looking to be put to work sooner rather than later, and I wondered if they could work together.

The answer being, Yes they can!  And they look kind of neat too, maybe a little smoothed out for my  tastes, but I over looked that because they tasted so good.

They'll taste great with the sausages for Thursday dinner. Num.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I joined twenty-two million and counting others over the weekend when my family and I saw River Dance, we agreed as cool as it was, and it was cool, those dancers are fantastic - it was not necessary to see it or them, again. They seem to be on a lot of peoples' bucket list of entertainment. I enjoyed the whole show and did not spend, as I have at other entertainments, spent a lot of time thinking about the stagecraft while playing Spot the Crew Member and wondering about how many costumes they had to build - yeah, I'm talking to you,/i> Le Miz. You thought I forgot about you. I didn't.

I did spend a lot of time wondering how they kept their knees from just falling out from under them and when that does happen, do they just shoot them? Its definitely a young persons show, there wasn't a single person in the cast that looked over twenty-five. peaking of the not-young, Michale Flatly has left the building and apparently the company worships at another church now.

 The theme of the show seemed to be Hey, remember when we used to be Druids? and  hey, remember when we were chattel and  hey, remember when then we immigrated to America? hey, some of us didn't and now we're here!

It was a very good show though and if they come through your town I would advice you to go see them.

To completely change the subject. I "had" to harvest another bin today, I decided to pull one of the Guadalupe bins. I noticed the flowers were all gone and the stems were falling and some of the leaves had yellowed and I was just curious about these potatoes. I can't find them anywhere, if you do a search for "guadalupe potatoes" you get  articles about potatoes grown in Guadalupe, Mexico - but nothing about a variety called "guadalupe". I wanted to see what I was getting. It turns out I am getting small, white taters' and not many of them at that.

I think the plant wastes a lot of energy maintaining the very pretty flowers the plant produces and this leaves the tubers to suffer. I think what I'm going to do with the little bit that I harvested is to just to boil and mash the lot of them. lesson learned, in the future I'll stick to varieties I have heard of  or at the very least, show up on lengthy lists of types and varieties of potatoes.

I still have two bins of them, I removed the flowers hopeing maybe this will send some of the plants energy back to the spuds.

Speaking of energy, I think its time to turn on the a/c. Its just too hot in the house anymore and its getting to be a little wearing. I hate to do it though but into every life a huge electric bill must fall and its my turn.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Garden Update 9 2012

And then there were four

I found a potato bobbing around on the top of the last remaining All Blue bin ( far left) but this time instead of saying "Yay! Lets harvest!" I said "Yay! Lets put more dirt in that bin!", it helped that the one bobbing to the surface was very small and not a keeper. I am working to keep the All Blues in the ground for the full ninety days. So far I have been very weak willed about keeping the spuds in the ground for the full number of  days till maturity. It varies, some places say eighty days some say ninty days and still others say a hundred and twenty, while there are some that say that All Blues are taken "early", more or less when the plant flowers so that would be sixty-five days. It appears that you take your spuds when you want to take your spuds. Mood Harvesting.

On to another long season plant:

I have three melon plants, actually, three sets of two plants planted together and thus far, one of the sets has vined in a pretty muscular way while the other two are vining but they don't really seem to be  as excited about it as the other. This is fine, I never meant for them all to mature, because I don't think I have enough land to support hat many active watermelon plants! I am pleased though that they weren't eaten by bugs as baby plants or otherwise killed on accident by me. Last year the bugs got them before I had a chance to poison and that was why there was only one plant that lived to be productive. My marigolds are also doing a lot better than they have done in years past, usually they die quickly from either over watering or too much sun or too many bugs, but this year, knock wood, they are doing well.

The whole melon-marigold family.

Moving on to the traditional garden. On the nursery side things are moving along, slowly, but everyone is still alive and even seem to be getting taller. Their companion baby borage plants are also coming along nicely.

See seed grown, compaion borage plant at right

See adult, store bought borage. They get big. They aren't just a "compaion plant" they are a bodyguard

I wish I had understood when I ordered from the untested tomato company that the plants were going to arrive so young, Burpee sends young plants but they are much, much older when they arrive then these were. I liked that they were so cheap and I got so many but it would have been nice if they were not as immature. Its going to be the fall before these plants produce.

I also ordered peppers from he same source

And yet these guys hit the ground running

Everyone of them as if not full on baby peppers, at the very least flowers. The tomatos are a month away from anything like that.

On the non-nursery side, where as an experiment, I didn't till due to the strawberry plants, the plants from the first batch of wrong tomatoes that I kept are doing well and are really growing!

Note the second batch plants growing around its ankles. One of the first batch plants all ready has flowers!

I didn't just plant peppers and tomatoes in the traditional garden. I also put in green beans and peas. The green beans are months from being ready but the peas are all ready being productive.

I've added some to these since this was taken, but I did not relize that you had to plant so many peas to get enough to bother planting in the first place. I don't think I planted enough to get enough for a single meal much less an amount worth freezing. Lesson learned.

The beans are growing beautifully and I look forward to a big harvest.

Family picture.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Cat Blogging

Diana and the purple 'tato

I had this idea that I would ride my bike to the post office to mail some bills because my postman skipped my house again - I've always understood that the rule is "Neither rain nor snow now sleet nor dark of night will keep the carrier from his appointed rounds..." but as it turns out, "hot, over cast and muggy" is a deal breaker. My idea became that would ride my bike to the post office and then take Dogger for a walk.

After some thought, and spending a little more time outside in the hot and muggy, I altered my plan and said "Instead of making two trips out, why not just walk Dogger to the post office and kill two birds with one stone? Always a fan of efficiency, I grabbed my bills and Dogger and away we went - around the corner.

Dogger must have gotten a bad vibe or she proscribes to the postman's Hot and Muggy rule, because she was not going to the post office, she wanted to do her thing and then she wanted to gohome, and so we did. To punish us both for 1) not wanting to go for a walk and 2) allowing the dog to decide we were not going for a walk,  I made us spend sometime in the backyard. While Dogger made like a goat, I poked around one of my all blue bins and noticed that one of the spuds had broken the surface. I don't know what this means. I guess that it probably means I should have added more dirt and just covered it back up, but I decided since the escapee was a pretty good size that it might mean that the plants are ready to be harvested. The stems were all ready falling and some of the leaves have started to die back and those are genuine signs of readiness for harvest, so I decided to go ahead and harvest.

And lo, there were potatoes

They are not blue, they are well and truely purple,  I mean  p u r p l e .

 I took the skin off my test spud and these puppies are hardcore purple food all the way down. I think my cooking adventure with these are to see if I can find a recipe to make oven baked chips because I understand that all blues are good for chip making and I've never made home made chips before. And lo, there was a recipe! . While I was looking through chip recipes, I saw a picture of mashed purple spuds and they are really pretty! They come out a nice shade of lavender and who hasn't wanted to eat lavender food? Yay for purple potatoes!

I waited an hour  or so post non-walk and it had cooled down and I was able to ride to the post office and actually enjoy it. I credit the potatoes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


It got all dark  as I was leaving work and the weather people were blowing up my phone to let me know that I was going to very likely die very soon because of thunderstorms .  Yes, shockingly, in the spring, a spring storm was expected and it might rain because we know how scary rain can be - to the paper mache community,  whom I'm sure were quite terrified and justly so. The rest of us looked up and noticed the sky was a little more say, auberjean than it was earlier and we reminded ourselves again that we should just leave an umbrella in the car for moments just like this.

It dribbled and the umbrella-less felt the thrill of vindication.

I went after work to a state sponsored Green Market, held on the gracious front porch of a state owned historic property - where according to the email, there would be many fruits and vegetables as well as fresh "locally" caught seafood. I myself do not define "local" as caught hours away, days ago as "fresh" but I thought I would drop by.

$4 for a pint of blueberries! The nerve!  many bags of new potatoes that I did not need, two heads of broccoli for too much, three onions, and a cooler displaying some fish, my thought was I feel like an East German! I went in for the fish but I would have been better served by the tilapia I had home in the freezer. I would also be willing to bet that either of the two fish mongers by my office would have been cheaper and the fish larger. Now I know.

I came home and made myself some crushed garlic potatoes - not as smooth mashed as I didn't add milk, but very good non-the-less which I ate while waiting for my fish to bake. My potatoes were delicious, the fillet came with bones.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Art is good for you.

This weekend when I wasn't dancing attendance to dough spending time and money at Artsplosure, I was a delegate to my Congressional districts  convention  at Johnson County's Department of Social Services campus. It tells me that Johnston County has more than its share of old, poor and mentally ill residents. Their DSS has its own campus .

The "convention" was held in  Smithfield, which much to my shock is not just a type of ham, it is also the home of the Eva Gardner museum - a place I would have visited had the convention not been run at the pace of  evolution! I would also have been more likely to have visited the EGM if the meeting had been held at the announced location downtown instead of miles from the main drag - something I only learned after I arrived in town and found a sign saying the convention had been moved to XX location. Good thing I know Smithfield so well (not!), I might have driven around getting lost for much longer than I did. I might have just gone home to the twentieth century and been done with it.

Also "refreshments provided" does not translate to me as "Tiny bags of chips and  mini-bottles of water" all day. At least I know for sure they weren't spending my hard earned donations on fancy wastes of cash like food and drink. Or a decent site or even worse for those long, drawn out, badly run meetings, comfortable seating. Padded seats are for fat cat rethuglicans.  We are the true inheritor's of Pat Nixon's cloth coat.

And then I escaped came home and went to the art show and saw lots of beautiful pieces I really wanted and I got many ideas of really great gifts I could give to this one and that one, but sadly, that was the hunger and thirst talking and I had to keep it reality based.

Sunday I did the buying. I slept on a couple of things and changed my mind about another and went with some nice but not too pricey options I had been thinking of. In art like retain, small isn't nessarly cheap, I saw a few smaller works that I would have loved to have on my walls had they weren't priced their weight in gold. I need the Big Lott's of art shows to come to town.

And then I came home and read my book on the hammock with Dogger and while we were out there I started to think about Small Cat and how much Dogger and I were enjoying the sun and the breeze and so I got Small Cat and brought him outside with us. It turns out he doesn't like direct sunlight or being too far from me. We worked it out and had a nice afternoon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Open you wallet

My second official political activity. Go David Price! I was the only white person there not running for election. The crowd was very fired up and ready to vote for Obama and planning on making everyone they know vote for Obama, and work hard to achieve that goal. A few words were said about homophobic preachers and their ignorance and what is going to be done about these trifling individuals. Suffice to say, repent, gentleman. That light you see is not Jeebus, its a train and you are tied to the tracks.

Both political meetings I attended are going to work to keep NC blue and vote the rethuglicans out of office. Not surprising given the populations, both long term Democratic strong holds - although both get lazy and both have cost the Democrats seats because we take our gains for granted. We don't realize that nothing is written in stone and the GOP is made up of of thieves who take what is not theirs. They may not break into your house and steal your TV but they do break in to the House of Representatives and steal your constitutionally protected freedoms. Insurance will replace your TV, nothing will replace a stolen civil right.

Are you a man? When was the last time anyone told you what you can do with your vas deferens? or called you a whore because you used a condom? Never? I hate you. Wait though, eventually, they will get to you.

I wonder how much more hate filled I would be if I started to keep track of how many push polls I receive from now until the election? So far I have three GOP polls and one DNC poll. I made the GOP polls sad and also very confused as to why a forty something year old single white woman is living at the address of of a ninety-year old black widow. She was even more liberal than I am so they would be barking up the wrong tree with her too. She gave a lot of money too, I can tell because the fundraising letters she gets arrive on stationary and are really signed while the stuff I get is all email and sometimes includes emoticons. Thus far, no one has gotten money out of either one of us because she's been dead for fourteen years and I have no money so I guess neither approach is panning out.

I'm going to have to change that soon though. Obama needs money, the Democrats in Wisconsin need money - the DNC is not making it rain there and I find that odd, its a huge show down between Us and Them and I think it would be a good place to throw money around. There are bad men hard at work there and I'm more than a little shocked the party isn't doing more to help The Good Guys turn things around there as well as kissing Obama voting Democratic voter ass. Grass roots groups are great and they make good feature stories but they don't raise the mass amounts of cash that a campaign like that needs to function. The GOP is funneling millions and millions into the recall elections and they could very well take everything back. If you have a few extra pennies or dollars or a credit card hanging around, help the Wisconsin Democrats take back the state and make the nightmare there stop.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not Julia Child

I had never really baked anything before,  I've "baked" cakes and cookies and tarts and I've made tens of thousands of dog treats, but I can no long call these things I have "baked" because these aren't really baking.

 "Combine cake mix, two eggs, three tablespoons of oil, half a cup of water and bake at 350 for X time" isn't really the same as "... in a separate bowl combine X and Y and then in a different bowl add A to Y  and then warm F and add to C and D and E" finally, "leave to rise in warm room", for natch, an indeterminate amount of time, so you have to keep dancing attendance to it.

And lets talk about "warm", Who defines warm? as it turns out "warm" is defined as 110-114 degrees! My house won't be that "warm" until August and I certainly won't be taking advantage of it by  firing up my oven and busting out rolls to celebrate.After my dough refused to budge I went online to find out what I was doing wrong. It turned out  the room wasn't "warm" enough to do the job.  My toaster oven stepped in and allowed the yeast to "wake up". I turned it on low and put the bowl on top and waited.  Details, baking is full of pesky, annoying little details that if you get one wrong, you have to start over from the beginning and if you by some miracle don't get it wrong, you get to spend the entire day in a hot kitchen.

 I am never going to feel bad about buying rolls from the store again.

And there are all these things that  go into real baking, everything takes fifteen dry ingredients before you even start on the eleven wet - and don't think about substitutions either, you lazy thing! That's real eggs, damn it and you do have your own cooking thermometer don't you?  because that  whole milk needs to be heated to 107 and not one degree more or it burns - and flour? Did you know it matters? and that not all flour is the same? Its not, there are subtle, recipe destroying differences between them, those things written script on the front aren't just ways to make the brands look different from each other, they are actual different kinds of flour for different jobs. Yeah. Lots of things like that.

The ladies on TV do not make it look this hard. The lying cows and their special effects pastry! I've actually watched one of my cooking show ladies make her own puff pastry! Even The Two Fat ladies recognized that this is an unnecessary waste of time and can be purchased from your grocers freezer! I will look for easier ways to use my potatoes in the coming months. I did see an interesting recipe for cake using potatoes though...

I spent most of the day Sunday making rolls. A batch of rolls, a single variety. All day. How did our great, great, great Grandmothers do this kind of cooking every day and make three full meals on top of it? How do women do it today?

I have no staff. I think that is the biggest part of the problem. I have no staff to speak of and my kitchen is very tiny. If I had a staff and an Olympic style kitchen I could make bread and rolls and three kinds of cake every day and still watch someone else make a stunning standing roast.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Cat Blogging

Never Nap Alone.

Rolling around.

If I had thrown there as going to two full hours of my two favorite TV shows on tonight I might have timed my evening , um, better. There is the chance I would not have taken that nap. It was a terrific nap though, it was raining and that made this really great sound-scape and the room had this really restful half-light and I had just finished  dinner and went to the couch everything  and  suddenly...

I did decide, and no it did not come to me in a dream, the next potato based experiment is going to be ... POTATO ROLLS! Yes, I am going to  make a dough that isn't fit for dogs.  I don't have to use all the potatoes right  away, but "new" potatoes don't have the shelf life of say, any other kind of potato which can last for months under ideal circumstances.

So. Rolls. I did notice when I was studying recipes that rolls aren't like dog cookies. They have flour and water but they also have sugar and yeast and water where it matters what the temperature of it is. This is most unexpected and hard to achieve. What is the definition of "room temperature? Have you ever been in my room? Its pretty warm unless its winter and then its genuinely cold and the temperature where? The kitchen is warmer once the oven is fired up while the back bedroom is an icebox for most of the year. Some rooms do not have their own source of water, what about the temperature in the living room or the office? This may be too much for me.

Maybe I'll just not think about it too much. Other than this non-specific "room temperature" water many of the mention , the rest of the recipe and the instructions aren't too weird. Weird as defined by "why are these so long and whats with all this measurement and detail? Dog cookies are kind of about mood and where you are at a given moment.

I thought I was down with the original recipe I found but then I then found  another recipe that calls for a stand mixer to do the dirty work kneading. So, the next time I don't have an over scheduled weekend approaching, I'm all over it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This spuds for you.

Its sinking in that I am going to have to learn many, many recipes utilizing potatoes. I looked up soups but then I thought How many potato based soups do I really want to eat during the summer months? I had three for dinner this evening and made a huge au gratin and the surface was barely scratched. I may need to donate spare spuds  to family members sooner than I had expected.

Potatoes aren't bad for you, despite their carb load, Atkins freaks. They have fewer carbs then rice or pasta and their skins are very high in antioxidants. I learned that cooked potatoes freeze just fine and along with my hoped for pepper, pea, bean and tomato harvest and that I am definitely going to need to get it together and get that chest freezer.

I forgot to pass on a potato related horror. I moved one of the bins from point A to point B, and when I causally looked at the empty spot and in the muddy circle I saw something moving! it was a grub - not one of the thumb nail sized grubs I had been pulling out of the garden but a monster grub that left a grove in the earth as it made its way! And it moved quick! The beast was four inches long and looked like a living infection and then it looked at me! It picked up its massive gooey head and looked at me!  and now I have typhoid or malaria or what ever it was made up of. I retaliated by I chopping it in half  with a trowel and then pulverized the parts. I'm certain it pulled itself together while my back was turned.  I should have burned the remains and then salted the earth.

If I had known those little bits could grow into anaconda sized garden terrorists I would have killed the little bastards dead instead of just throwing them over the fence. I probably spared that monsters' life months ago! Well, next year, grubs... No more Ms. Catch-and-Release, next year you'll (briefly)  meet Ms. Drown- in- Fingernail- Polish- Remover-And-Run-Over-With-Car.  Damn it.

I was messing around with google and found a recipe using potatoes in a very interesting way! Enter the Chocolate Mashed Potato Cupcakes! it also turns out that the rabidly gluten free have embraced the potato as a way to avoid gluten  in cakes and bread.  I think I'll pursue the potato bread angle

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Perchance to dream, II

My goals for this evening is to first 1) Go to bed early, and then 2) stay in bed. Last night you would have thought I had a prostate and that it was angry.

First I work up because we were experiencing  a thunder and lightening storm and I thought it would be a good idea to turn off my electronics before they got fried. Fine, except I have electronics all over the house! that was at a quarter to two. I woke up at three thirty because it was still violently storming and I was afraid of water damage from my many open windows. Fine, but I had open windows in almost every room!  and very old windows that require a lot of audience participation and under the best of circumstances - i.e, during waking hours, daylight, not in the middle of a raging storm, getting them properly closed is something less than restful. Do you know how bright lightening is? Very. Lightening is very bright and thunder is very loud.

My midnight rambling was not for naught, none of my electronics got fried and my floors weren't a soupy mess when I came downstairs again at five-fifteen. This has happened once before when I decided hat it wasn't raining all that hard  and it wasn't that big a deal. It was and it was. I had failed to take in to account wind and what wind can do when it is feeling playful.

Lets just say  I wandered into the kitchen and walked into the middle of  the crew of Swamp People setting up a shot. It was not pretty and I was chasing 'gaters and toothless crackers out from under my stove for days. The upside was my kitchen floor hadn't been that clean in months, it was like a power washing from Gawd. 

Tonight its going to rain again, this time I'm going to be prepared, the electronics are going to be unplugged and all the hatches will be battened down.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I just got back from my first official campaign event of the season. "Women for Obama", it was very well attended, SRO in fact and that made me very happy.  We agreed that Romney wants our uterus's in his trophy case and the rest of our bodies covered head to toe in some LDS/RNC approved burkas while Obama loves us for our minds and the only unattractive, body covering robes he wants us in are judges robes on the Supreme Court.

You will be pleased that not one cent of your campaign donations went to feeding us. They had water and three bottles of white wine and two plates of pita chips for us to munch on. 

And then they didn't even ask us for money! They went full undergrad on us with the buffet tables and didn't even ask for money! They didn't want our money they wanted our time! asked us to volunteer! They asked us to work phone banks and  do data entry and to go door to door. I mean really, when I saw how sad the spread was I was about to pull out my check book out of sympathy! I was wondering if they speaker's voice was shaking because she wasn't used to public speaking or because she was weak from selling blood.

It turns out that both the featured speakers are  long time, hard core Washington power brokers. They are not trembly-voiced little naifs. Yes, carrier yes-women, but still, political animals that shouldn't have suffered from shaky-voice when faced with speaking to a couple of hundred middle class women in a second floor banquette hall.

Maybe it was a southern strategy. Don't act too forceful, don't bring out the good old girls inner mean girls, seem small and shy so we didn't feel shouted at or bossed around. They did good job of telling us about Lilly Ledbetter and  Blount and how Romney is all for Blount and not for Ledbetter. Blount lets our employers decided whether we can have birth control or not and Ledbetter is for equal pay for equal work - Romney did not have an answer if he approved of Ledbetter but he can talk at length about how our uterus's would look in his trophy case.  So short answer, Romney wants to pay men more than women for the same work and he wants our bosses to decide our family planning for us . Lets hear it for the RNCs version of Small Government. Small enough to fit right up into our vagina's.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Garden Update 8 2012

The garden is plugging along. The spuds are growing and developing and even doing their best to be decorative.

These are the Guadalupe potatoes. The All Blues are also flowering but not nearly as energetically as the others. The Yukon's didn't flower at all - wisely saving the energy for growing stronger spuds. The Yukon's are going to be the next to harvest, the stalks are falling over and the leaves are are starting to wither once they go its going to be a while for the other bins. The Guadalupe's are new in the ground and are at least a month from harvest while the All Blues are a late season variety so they have maybe, another month and a half to go.

I cut off one of the Guadalupe's, but its perking along like its twin.

In the more traditional garden everything is chugging along. I would like it to chug along a little faster but I always want that. The tomatoes could really get a little more energetic, but its not entirely their fault, its not been as warm or sunny as would be ideal for substantive growth.

They arrived very small and bent over and now they are very small and more upright. I learned from the first set that they do recover from the trauma of being mailed and will grow.

I decided to keep a couple of the first group of plants because they seemed to be doing so well I didn't want to disturb them from their progress. They are giving me a lot of hope for the younger plants.

Tell that to this little guy, I think he arrived taller this.

The peppers aren't as picky, they are doing much better.

Of course, the productive plants are the purple peppers I picked up locally and they started off weeks advanced of the ones I mail ordered. They will also produce all at once and then stop for the season, This is called determinate, the other plants won't produce as quickly but they'll produce all season, this is called in-determinate . Tomatoes are the same way, I usually avoid determinate varieties.

I planted six watermelon plants taking for granted that half weren't going to make it and the ones that do make it, only half of those will produse fruits. I'm not really worried about having too many. I think I got lucky last year with a single plant that lived to maturity and then produced fruit. They would also like it to be a little warmer and sunnier, but they love the rain.

The peas and beans are also cruising along. They are both growing and getting taller and the peas are all ready making pods. The peas are the happiest denizens of the garden, cool and damp is ideal for them.

My concern is a planted a snow pea type pea instead of a peas pea.  I'm going to keep an eye on these. I'll blanch and freeze whatever they turn into but I wanted peas.The green beans are getting taller and making leaves but they aren't ready for making beans.

In the front my blueberries are looking good and thus far, knock wood, aren't being molested by the birds.

In the planters I added some seeds for some glorious morning glories. Last year I just had them on the front stairs but I decided this year to spread the love.

If only a thrid of the seeds manage to grow up, the front of the house will be gorgeous - for a couple of hours a day.

Family picture.

If you plant it, you will harvest it, I have all these potatoes and I need to use them so I went hunting for recipes and found one I liked after I changed to suit my needs. It turned out really well and was delicious. It did spark a shopping trip to get a proper mandolin for slicing because the little stand up version I got a Wallyworld to make this ended up shredding my nails and leaving my knuckles bloody. While its good luck to bleed on sets and the inside of costumes I'm not sure the same goes for food.

And since I needed something to eat along with these, I watched some Cooking Network and latched onto Tourtiere, a French Canadian dish that was right up my alley: few ingredients, the use of pie dough,  and its very carnivore friendly as its stuffed with ground beef, pork and chopped onions. I'm eating the leftovers from one and I froze the other.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Cat Blogging

TGIF May, 2012

Small Cat is right now fighting with the dinning room drapes. I don't know if they said something or they looked at him funny or what, but Small Cat is really giving the the sheers and the drapes what for. So cute when he's acting like he's mentally ill!

Changing the subject. Today I harvested potatoes and strawberries! But not at the same time. or the same place. It really wasn't  a harvest situation as much as it was "take as many as I can get" moment from Alphagal and Broskeys garden. It was either me or the bugs and the bugs are just going to eat them for food and not really appreciate the fact they are locally grown, organic produce. Bugs are such trash. I'm also pretty sure that the bugs voted in mass for amendment 1, with the rest of the  bottom feeders.

These turned out much better than the same variety that I planted in the front, they are bigger and look healthier, also the plants were clearly much more productive. I decided to harvest them a little early because the stalks were beginning to wither and they had been fallen over for a week. The literature suggests that the stalks be all dead and brown prior to harvest but I haven't found that to be completely necessary to harvesting spuds that have reached term. The plants were done though, as it turned out. there was no sign of the original seed spud and I have decided that that is a sign of a ready to harvest crop. The test plants I pulled on the Yukon Golds last week still had seed spud, so I gleaned from that experience that seed spud still there = not ready to be harvested - not that you would know that until you pulled it up but its a way of knowing You Just Made A Mistake.

This time, no mistakes made, it was time and I pulled them out. I also found a couple of enormous grubs and if I had let the plants stay in the ground any longer, I'm sure they grubs would have gone to town on them. Thank you Santa for the gardening gloves because without them I would have never been able to remove them from the bin much less take my time finding a good place to deposit them before I found something substantial to squish them to kingdom come. Barehanded I would have been squealing and jumping up and down and throwing them around like squishy confetti. I would be getting thank you notes from their millions of descendants for years.

I thought about just putting them out on the drive way and letting the birds get to them, but the little beasts can propel themselves and I didn't want them to get away. So, squish.

Speaking of the potatoes, I think I might make this dish over the weekend. Except with fewer potatoes and substituting a thin cheese sauce for the heavy cream and foregoing the parchment paper

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nap time

I stayed at work late, which sucks,  because I got to work early but it was worth it when my boss told me I was lazy. I was pissed as hell but the tardy arrival home did keep Daisy and I from getting caught in a violent deluge. It was raining  on my way home and by the time Dogger needed to go out and pee, she refused to go out .

I tried to talk her into walking around under the car port but she wouldn't co-operate, she'll relieve herself in the middle of the street while dodging traffic but she's too good to pee in he own driveway? Instead she decided to eat her dinner with her knees crossed, I didn't need to add any water to her dinner because her back teeth were all ready floating. While she ate I closed all the windows in the house and watched the wind blow.

Watching Dogger eat made me hungry so I heated up the food court Chinese I brought home last night. I thought it was a second meal but as it turns out, one piece of meat, three chunks of unidentifiable coating and four cups of greasy, beige rice with things in it, really isn't a meal, especially after you dispose of the rice.  It turns out unidentifiable coating is not microwavable. Who knew? I think the whole meal should have come with a warning.

I imagine poor Dogger ended up she ended up having to think dry thoughts for longer than she planned. It wouldn't stop raining and then, the power went out. DirecTV is not really excited about that happening, and  it really doesn't like it when it flickers on and off before it finally stops kidding with you. I couldn't watch TV and I couldn't  make dinner and I couldn't walk the dog and I didn't need to water the plants. My only remaining option was napping.

There is nothing as restful as pounding rain and power outage to make for a lovely nap experience. And a kitty, add a kitty to the mix and you may just stay there all night. But then the power came back and startled the kitty and the rain was less pour-y and more Dogger friendly and my lovely nap was a memory.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Get it when you can.

Today for exercise I walked around the mall because I can never remember where the Lendscrafters is and I always park, as it turns out, no matter what my intentions were,  as far as possible from where they are located, second floor next to the Sears and across from the Brookstone. I did a lot of walking.

I was at the Lendscrafters because ta da! Today is New Glasses Day! I went for my yearly optometrist appointment and came away with a ticket for a new pair of glasses. Yay!

Yes, my life is a festival of excitement, thank you for not pointing that out.

Anyway. New Glasses are slightly horn rimmed, updated and styled for a woman, thankyouverymuch and are in the burgundy into purple family of the color spectrum. I think they are made by Vogue, as were my last pair that seems to have fallen out of favor as their was no 2012 version available. They could also be made by Tory Burch. I had gone a few months ago and looked a frames and even found one I liked and then upped the anti by finding a frame color in the same style that I liked better.

I decided the frame had too much bric a brac on the arms and reminded me a little of teeny, tiny trellisi. So I changed my mind and found the least bedazzled frame in the store. Bedazzling is very big in frame fashion, lots of bling, lots of "jools". I don't think I would be apposed to a patterned frame, that might be interesting but I just can't really embrace the bling. I would like to, but its no for me. I think there is  a certain population that things glasses makes it look more serious or as if they posses gravitas that they do not, when in fact it makes them look like they are wearing grills on their eyes - which may be the point, stylistically. It doesn't work on them and it doesn't work on me.

Sadly, the frame designers think its a fabulous look and they want us all to wear it, unless we have $400 to drop on some very unenhanced frames that look like they came form the NHS back in the fifties.

If you really don't want bling on your frames you can go to a retro style. You! Can! Go! Back! To! The Eighties! in enormous plastic frames that cover you face and can be used as part of a stylish Universal Precautions rig.I saw frames that I would have rejected in 1982 as being too much and I wore enormous frames. Really, today my neice and nephew use them as wading pools.

I still remember being shocked when Annie Sullivan style frames began to hit the marker, they were tiny, not even as robust as John Lennon's' granny glasses. And I loved them.  And now the eighties are back.

Yuck. Oh and speaking of yuck, the ignorant, backwards yokels of North Carolina have voted to maintain that image. I declare it open season on yokels. I wonder how had it would be to buy every single thing I need from out of state vendors?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where the money goes

Yesterday I ride my bike to the Krispy Kreme and today I walked Dogger to the post office. The post office is closer but today I didn't come home with donuts. Urban Hell Hole my eye, anytime you can ride your bike to the Krispy Kreme you are living right. Try that out in Cookie Cutter-ton or Builder Beige-ville.

Anyway, I was walking Dogger down New Bern Avenue and we passed a fence covered in Honeysuckle, old established honeysuckle, and I got to thinking how hard would it be just to dig one of these plants up? They don't belong to anybody and who would know? Prolly Mr. Police Officer who would be rolling past and wonder what I was doing.

Mr. Police Officer - Ma'am
Me - May I help you?
What are you doing? Me - I am digging up this honeysuckle.
Do you have permission? Me - I would say this is consensual
Ma'am, I'm not sure they plant is fit to make that decision, you need to speak with the owner of the property. Me- It belongs to the city of Raleigh and I am a citizen of the city of Raleigh and I am taking my plant home, but first I am Occupying this sidewalk! The Bank of America is bad for America! This is what Democracy Looks like!
Ma'am, step away from the fence Me -(handcuffing self to fence) We Shall Overcome....

I imagine a tense stand off until the cops get a routine call about a drunk passed out at the gas station. This drunk is inevitably going to require three and a half hours, four cop cars  all with lights and sirens, a hook and ladder truck with lights and sirens, a EMS first responder mustang with a siren and an mass casualty level ambulance with its own marching band escort to properly take care of.

The cop leaves, but not before doing that V thing eyes-on-you with his fingers . At this point I tell him he would be better eye-on-ing the drug dealers on Pettigrew that harassing me for getting my urban gardening on. I tell him if he wants to take either of us into custody, he'll know where to find me because my yard will be the best smelling yard in the neighborhood.

 I dig up my plant and its huge, healthy root ball and about twelve feet of flowering vines and head home. Elly smells divine for weeks.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Garden Update 7 2012

Between  periods of  violent thunder and lightening storms and pouring rain, I did some work outside.  The tomatoes I planted were not the variety I wanted, I complained and they corrected the error. The correct plants arrived and they needed to be re-homed. It is much easier to plant a plant than to un-plant a plant, but I got good at it and only lost a single plant.

From the start

That is four separate plants.

The orginal plants went in on April 21 and they looked even worse than these do. The experence with them gives me a lot more faith than I had in the first plants at the start, but the newbies still look puny and weak. This time around I hit them with some fertilizer and their sad, tippy selves are proped up with popsicle sticks.

Things do get better. The above look like the plants I would buy from the store or get from Burpee. I kept a couple of these and the others have been adopted out, there were five more but those have all ready been re-homed. I was very proud of me that I was able to pluck these out of the garden with so little lose of life. It was not fun though. It was slightly more fun to plant the newbies but it isn't easy to do when you are trying to not step on anyone - its a little crowded in the garden. While I was planting the new babies I added a couple of Borage seeds, these are supposed to fight off invaders. Also, their pretty flowers are edible as are their leaves but I don't see me looking for recipes using Borage. Okay, I lied.

It also seems that I might need to keep my eye on it too as it re-seeds it self quite  aggressively, but I used weed barrier so it won't be able to access the soil quite so easily and if it does, well, I'll just cover it up. Other than that, it seems like a good plant to have around and oddly, useful. My super- crunchy- granola- all-homeopathy-all-the-time friend on Facebook would probably be very pleased. I would tell her but, you know, see above.

After I planted this weekend, I harvested. It was a little early but two of the plants were looking  a little peaky and hadn't flowered so I did a little exploratory surgery and discovered that they were doing what they were supposed to and I could limit my exploration to the single bin. The next day I pulled up the puds in the front because I they were making trimming the shrub difficult - as well as the spuds were ready for harvest.

I'm leaving them to toughen up a little before I start with them, the yellow spuds are Yukon Golds and they are good for storing, the reds are the Reds and they do need to be used sooner rather than later. Not a problem.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Cat Blogging

Ace is his own Grandcat

Too Much

I have a food hangover. I ate too much at the  better-late-than-never Administrative Professionals' Day luncheon - Who knew there was so much Lebanese food that  I would find tolerable? I mean the chick pea based paste was not a turn on and the less said about the egg plant based paste food the better, but those people do have a way with chicken and steak!

And I did have my way with the chicken and steak. And then I came back to the office and went to a sorry-you-are-sick-even-though-you-won't-tell-us-with-what-exactly reception for our boss, where we had food again and then as I was walking out the door someone gave me a donut.

I didn't eat the donut until way, way later but now I am so hung over I can barely stand up! I took Dogger out to pee in the yard and that was about more than I could handle - and then I came back inside and found the pilot episode of 30 Rock and an episode of American Restoration on my DVD and one thing led to another and now its very late and I have had way too much protean today.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Just last week I woke up in the middle of the night to find a blanket because I was cold, last night I went to bed knowing that a more minimal sleep-on-top-of-the-sheet theme was better because I was hot.  I was thinking that with the hammock in the backyard now that maybe some night I could sleep on it... I would need to move it so I would not be on display all night but I think it would be nice or at the very least interesting

Nice, in a "wow those sirens are really loud" and "will those drunks please shut up all ready and pay the damn hooker and stop yelling about it" - Oh yeah, I sleep with my windows open, I have learned a lot about the mating rituals of the poor and crack addicted. I think for one night it would be neat. I would have Dogger with me of course - in her Dog tent, I'm not letting the elements have their way with her. But it might be an adventure. And I'm pretty sure that Dogger wouldn't bark all night long and I think it might send a good message to the neighborhood night life low lives that there could be on any given night a huge and frightening dog in my backyard and maybe they should keep their distance every night, for their own piece of mind.

Actually, because I want the elements to have their way with me either, I saw a Diana tent at Kroger that looked promising. I think the hammock would just fit inside and with it I think I really could spend the night outside. Its has an attached floor and the "walls" are mesh.I think its meant for the beach but I think it would rock in my new and improved back yard.

I've been wondering if  Small Cat would like The Kitty's old tent. The Kitty hated the tent despite my best intentions and all the talking up I did of it, himself, but Small Cat is a totally different creature and he might like the tent. I might just surprise him with it this weekend - if I can remember where I put it, The Kitty could have hidden it and would have and I bet he did when I wasn't watching. I think  Small Cat would enjoy being outside under controlled circumstances maybe. He likes my parents deck, he might like his own yard. But then The Kitty loved my parents deck too and he loathed the tent and my backyard.

The Kitty loathed a lot of things though and I think Small Cat should have the chance to make his own decisions. Small Cat doesn't loathe anything.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Because I can.

Mostly because it is the cutest thing I've ever seen and I decided to share it because it just the sweetest thing ever.  The Dog is holding his hand!

Okay, back to my world.

 I decided to go another route with the left over flowers; I pulled every available pot off the bench and filled them all. Now I have flowers everywhere.
A lot of the flowers were looking more than a little peaky so I decided I needed to get them in the dirt now. I would have liked to be able to come up with a more interesting way of displaying them but I guess in the end it was the old school approach that worked best. If I could have found an old metal bedstead... Hopefully even without the world’s largest planter, in a few weeks the house will look like a very large impressionist painting or that it got caught in a paint ball war - And on a more useful level, the flowers should attract bees that will service my vegetable plants and give me lots and lots of veggies. Of course I have essentially fetal vegetable plants at present and they are in no way ready for any servicing of any kind and I still haven't received my replacement tomatoes and they will be teeny  and weeks behind where I would like them to be.

  I am going to have to be very careful when I unplant the other tomatoes and then nurse them for a time in pots before they are re-homed with my Dad.  It’s going to be really not fun to get the plants switched out because there is next to no wiggle room in the bed as it is and doing the change is going to be frustrating and require a lot more delicacy that my normal garden routine of stomping around like a Clydesdale and hoping for the best. I am going to have to do my best impression of one of those miniature horses if this is going to work out and end with as little loss of tomatoes life as possible.
 I am still a little shocked that I only lost one of the wrong plants thus far and the others seem to be not in the process of dyeing either. They don't seem to be growing but they aren't withering away either. The peppers look a little taller than they did at first but they aren’t going nuts either. I'm hoping it’s because they are saving up strength to produce like gang busters later on in the season. Hopefully, before I leave for vacation in August.

 The potatoes are chugging along. The earliest should be ready  for harvest the middle of June and the last at the end of July. There are already flowers on some of the plants and that's a good sign. One of the plants has started to fall under its own weight but they did that last year too and the plants weren’t as tall. I'm hoping that one plant is just getting lazy and it’s not a sign of a darker problem like bug infestation or some sort of potato blight. Everything looks lush and green and I have found a handful of dead leaves on all of the plants, I don't think this is a dire warning. I haven't found anything eating the leaves as a full time job and there is thus far no sign of bugs eggs or other infestation.

I am going to spray them this weekend though because I have also seen some chewed leaves and this is not something I want to become a habit to the local bug population. They are welcome to visit but they can't stay here full time. I am concentrating on the number of healthy, unchewed dark green leaves and strong, upright stems.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paint by flowers.

I'm still tired from the weekend, but not so tired that I couldn't find the energy to buy a new hanging basket for my new fabulous plant hanger. I need to plant the rest of my inpatients, but I don't have the strength (post Wallyworld visit,  post dog walk, post bike ride to post office) to carry the last remaining wooden planted up from the basement and then to carry the heavy dirt to the planter and then get the plants to the planter. Its just too much work.

I'm going to do it though but I want to put more thought into where the planter is going to go. It doesn't sound like an important decision but once its full of dirt and flowers it is not going to be something that I casually move around on a whim. I could put it in the backyard to add to the floral joy there or I could have it in the front and spread the flowers from the deck to the yard, its a tough decision and both choices sound good to me.

I could always plant some of the flowers in the big planter and have that in the front and then leave a few out for a smaller planter that could live in the backyard or I could be really industrious and clean out more of the ground around the  watermelon and plant all the flowers there. They would be very happy in the soil and they might spread out and really make the area pretty...

Or  they could crush my baby watermelons, so I could also just spend my lunch hour wandering around the farmers market looking for inspiration , I would be interested in maybe some nice blue flowers out front because I'll have just about every other color represented and it would look pretty or it would look busy and I should stick to the  multiple colors of the same single variety that I have now but....

I drove past a house today that was just awash with  purple flowers, hundreds of the same kind and color and it really looked impressive, perhaps that was the way to go but then you really have to be dedicated to a single kind of  flower and a single shade of that single flower and I'm not sure that's me, unless it was a very pretty light blue, in what case I could see to have them all the same color... But too late for that, and...

If you go that way, they all bloom at the same time and all their flowers wilt and fall off at the same rate and you spend a lot of time with leaves but no blooms. The way I plant it doesn't matter that all the whites have are buds, you should see the reds! and the purples are just starting to fade a little but the oranges are doing fantastically well! There is always something blooming...

Or, you could replant every few months and be all seasonal and win the Best Yard competition, but than you would have to live in a neighborhood that did that kind of thing and we don't. We are glad when we all mow our lawns. One neighbor plants his vegetable garden in raised beds on his concrete driveway! My neighborhood could awards the yard with the most Chutzpah.