Friday, August 30, 2013

Fashion Must Have: Pearl Collar Little Black Dress

I am mildly obsessed with this dress.  It's from Betsey Johnson but I can't seem to find it online now.  I go weak in the knees for an updated LBD and the pearl collar just totally does it for me.

Do you have any fashion fantasy pieces pinned at the moment?  What's on your I wish I could find it and look as good as a model in it list?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are You Ready For Fall Football Season?

Team gear rocks!

Like are you really ready?  Because it's mere hours away.  Eeek!  I'm giddy with excitement.

While I'm miserably depressed to see summer leave this year, and my summer garden, and all the glorious Saturdays are giving me a reason to live again.

So fear not!  I will survive.  Cheering on my DAWGS.  At home.  Alone.  Because no one up here in the North Pole knows what college football is.

Oh and I noticed that Zulily has a ton of cute swag on sale for all the NCAA teams.  I think I might order the Georgia knee socks to wear under boots and wellies this winter.  You know, the winter that is predicted to be harsh and biter cold.  But I digress...

Clearly I'm biased.  Gooo DAWGS!

Artichoke Baby.

I just realized that I never showed y'all the first photo of my baby artichoke.  This was taken the day I looked down and was shocked to see that cute lil' baby choke peeking up at me.

I planted six seeds.  Four germinated enough to be re-planted.  And they all grew really well.

Until they didn't.  It looked as if three were dead.

But in reality, only one completely died.  One is tiny.  Two are small.  And one of the small plants has this baby.

I'm elated!

And this fall I will cut them down and cover with straw in hopes that they come back again, bigger and better, next spring.

But for now, I'm all kinds of silly excited about the tiniest veggie there ever was.

Have you ever grown artichokes?  Do you have any tips for me?  Like most things in my life, I'm pretty much just winging it.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Favor For A Friend. Actually...It's For My Cousin-ish.

Those who have been around a long while might remember this post.  It's by far my favorite blog story ever.  It takes "it's a small world" to a whole new level, really.

So Cousin-ish, Ginny, and I are still great pals.  Even though she isn't currently blogging.  {sad face!}  I forgive her for that oversight and love seeing her at all of my Junior League meetings.  She's awesomesauce.

And she is in a contest to win a complete bedroom designed by Serena and Lilly for her sweet son, Jack.

Ginny and Jack are preps from tip to tail.  But more than that, because really, that's a silly reason to like someone, Ginny is the kindest person out there.  She is sweet and lovely and beautiful inside and out.  And on top of that, her hair always looks amazing.

So we kind of want to hate her, right?  But you can't because she's so cute and sweet.

It takes no time at all to click the links below (and you can do so once each day/link) to vote for Ginny and Jack.  Please?  The giveaway ends on Friday, Ginny and her husband Rob's 5th wedding anniversary.  Wouldn't it be a sweet surprise to celebrate with a dream big boy bedroom makeover for the little man who is the center of their world?

3 different ways to enter the giveaway {remember you can enter daily}:
Website--Vote for Video #5:
Like the post (Semifinalist #5) that shows Ginny and Jack on this Facebook page:

Like their family photo on Instagram:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, sweet friends, for helping out my friend/cousin/partner in JL crime.

Have You Ever Seen Anything So Sweet?

Happy Hump Day, Sweet Friends!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mystery Tomatillo Bugs

The other day I was picking up the fallen ground cherries and pineapple tomatillos and noticed a few leaves had been eaten, seemingly from the center out.  Upon closer inspection, on one leaf [and only one...I searched high and low and could not find this on any others...which worries me] I spotted yellow eggs and tiny brownish black bugs.  The bugs looked like perhaps they just hatched.

This whole situation looked a lot like squash bug eggs.  But these were not the tiny squash bugs I was finding for weeks on end in the garden.  I suspect this is something different.

Do any of my gardening readers have insight on what these bugs are?  Should I be doing something to prevent them?  Will they kill my plants?  I don't think my nerves have it in me to endure another squash bug or eggplant bug infestation.'s been a tough year for me and bugs!

Why I Roasted A Turkey In August

Last week, I cooked a turkey.  In August.  For no special occasion.

I often do this around Thanksgiving time so that I can have leftovers, which I feel is the best part of the meal.  But as I eat with family, I don't usually walk away with many.  So I will either cook a breast or a whole bird some time later to enjoy.

But last year, I bought an extra bird that has been taking up space in my freezer all this time.  It was time to cook her up and make space in the freezer for other things.

After I eat a few meals out of the turkey (I shared...I did not sit down and eat a turkey by myself...I promise.), I was over it.  So I picked the bird clean (my least favorite task) and divided the meat into zip top bags to freezer for later use.  I label all of the bags and then lay them flat to freeze.  It makes for great quick meals over the next many months.

Then the next day, I made stock.  But first, I roasted the bones.

I'd never done that before.  Have you?  I read about it in a magazine some time ago.  It's said to make the stock richer in flavor.  So I just popped the pan-o-turkey-bones into the oven for 45 minutes and let them go to town.  Then I added them to water with veggies, as I explained here, and let that simmer on low for as many hours as you have available.

When done and cooled a bit, I strained the stock into containers that will be frozen once I move things around in the freezer to make space this weekend {I lead quite the exciting life...I know}.

Just look at that color though!  So rich and deep.  The flavor is outstanding.  Actually, the night I made it, I didn't feel particularly fabulous.  So I drank a mug full of stock.  Is that weird?  It was so comforting and lovely.  Like nothing you can find in a can at the supermarket.

Oh and you always find more meat on the bones, too.  I had another little baggie ready for the freezer, destined for a big pot of soup this fall.

Do you ever roast a turkey just because?  And do you make your own stock?  If yes, do you use the bag of icky stuff that comes out of the turkey neck?  I don't.  I know I should.  I know Martha does and good cooks everywhere.  But I just can't stomach that situation.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Dream Come True Moment Captured

This is such a cute story!  A woman was randomly picked out of an audience at the Hollywood Bowl to sing a duet with Kristin Chenowith.  That woman, Sara Horn, just so happens to be a voice teacher.  And holy moly was it incredible.  Kristin was clearly shocked- so cute.

Even more fun, it turns out Sara Horn is my sorority sister from Belmont University.  See...being in a sorority and having these small world connections is completely awesome.  And seeing this woman's dream come true is pretty amazing too!  As this will never likely happen to me, I am watching this over and over to live vicariously through Sara.

The Best (And Easiest) Way To Cook Bacon

I love bacon.  Bacon really does make it better!

And now that it's tomato season, I find myself wanting bacon almost daily for sandwiches and salads and even in pasta dishes.  It's a need!

For years, I would buy the pre-cooked bacon.  But the price is sort of obnoxious.  So a few years ago, I started baking half a package of turkey bacon at a time in the oven.  And have never looked back!

You can totally do this with pork bacon too.  I just happen to prefer cooking turkey bacon at home.  I save the real deal for a treat at diners once in a blue moon.

I've seen a similar recipe that bakes the bacon right on a sheet pan and then flips it half way through.  That seems tedious to me.  And while that's not exactly complicated, my way is far easier.

* Place wire cooling rack on top of cookie baking sheet.  Lay bacon in single layer on metal rack.
* Place in cool oven.
* Turn oven on to 425.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until done.

That's it!  Then you can store your cooled bacon in a container for all of your bacon needs that week!  Such as bacon jam or breakfast burritos or creamy potato leek soup or sweet potato salad with bacon.  And of course, the classic that never goes out of style, albeit often out of season, BLT!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Beautiful Garden Harvest

For all of the tough times I've had in the garden, these harvest photos prove it is all worth it in the end.

Surprises like my purple peppers.  I had no idea I planted that seed.  It must have been mixed into another seed packet.  The beauty of the pink and green tomatoes {which are often more red and yellow but whatever}.  And holy moly the flavor of the black cherry tomatoes!  I could only get one seed to germinate but I will most certainly seek out seeds for next year.  Such a sweet tomato flavor in that little bite!

What have you harvest from your garden lately?  Did you try anything new this year that you fell in love with?  Or any total flops {I have many...I promise}?

Pasta Carbonara

I've seen similar recipes on various cooking shows and cookbooks but until this week, I'd never tasted pasta carbonara.  So forgive me if this isn't the real deal.  It's all I know and wow it is good!

Very simple and quick.  Very very filling.  Just good comfort food after a tough day.

Spaghetti Carbonara

* a box of your favorite pasta (they make really yummy gluten free pastas these days)
* 2 tbls butter
* 3 eggs
* 1 cup cream (I used half and half)
* 4-5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
* 1 large tomato, diced (optional)
* salt and pepper to taste

* Cook your pasta according to box instructions.
* In a large pan, brown butter on medium.
* In a bowl, whisk together eggs and cream.  Add to butter.  Whisk together gently- do not boil or scramble eggs.  Just allow to thicken into a sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
* Add bacon and eggs.
* Toss drained pasta into the sauce and serve immediately.

Friday, August 23, 2013

FREE Magazine Subscription: US Weekly

It's FREE!

This is how I get almost all of my magazine subscriptions.  It's completely free.  No credit card required.  Simply take the little survey and three minutes later, you've earned a year long subscription to my celeb guilt pleasure read.  Free magazines are the best!

35 Random Acts Of Kindness

Yesterday was my half birthday and I realized that I never posted about what I did on my actual birthday.  In February.

So six months and one day we go.

I decided about six or eight months prior to my BIG birthday that I needed to do something really different to save me from slitting my wrist in a corner.  I was not looking forward to this birthday.  I still hate that it came and went.  So I decided to do 35 random little acts of kindness in celebration of my 35 years of life.

And as is the case with nearly everything I do in life, it did not go off without a hitch.

Which still sort of stuns me because I planned out these "random" acts for months in advance.

But it turns out it is hard for our world to accept unsolicited kindness without rhyme or reason.  And I sort of get that.  I mean, I can barely accept that my friends love me, despite my endless list of flaws.  So sure...a stranger doing something nice is probably a big pill to swallow.

My 35+ Random Acts of Kindness to celebrate my (gulp) 35th birthday...

  1. Blessings bags to pass out to homeless.  Include things like razors, shampoo samples, granola bars, mouthwash, etc.
  2. Home baked muffins to fire station, signed “A Grateful Citizen.”
  3. Write sweet notes and drop off at retirement home to be given to residents needing a little extra love.
  4. Tape change to vending machine.
  5. Bring grocery carts back inside.
  6. Bring treats to sorority house.  Red, buff and green hair ties and a sweet note.
  7. Bring coffee and s'more treat to someone who has been a support for me lately.
  8. Mail fun cards to friends, including my childhood favorite teacher.
  9. Drop off donations.
  10. Tape microwave popcorn to Red Box movie bin.
  11. Leave dollar bills secretly in books at library.
  12. Drop dinner off for family.
  13. Make and give out homemade grocery bags at grocery store for $0.03 discount.
  14. Give away wrapped PCD baby bibs at shelter for women and children.
  15. Laundry detergent and quarters tied up and left in laundry mat.
  16. Pick up items on floor and put them away at grocery store.
  17. Tape lotto tix to bathroom stalls at Target and gas pump with note saying “Today is your lucky Day!”
  18. Put quarters in toy/candy machines at grocery store.
  19. Leave happy notes on mirrors at grocery store and Target.
  20. Leave a wrapped gift with tip for server.
  21. Leave gift for mail person.
  22. Leave diapers and wipes on changing table of public restroom.
  23. Smile at and say hello to strangers all day.  Offer sincere compliments.
  24. Hang up in a public space a sheet full of compliments like those trying to rent apts use with the vertical tags to pull off.
  25. Put $ in meters about to expire.
  26. Give someone coupons for free things in the grocery store.
  27. Take get well balloons to a hospital and give to a nurse to deliver to someone who is alone.
  28. Pick name from phone book and mail them a cheerful card and $2 bill.
  29. Put together a salon kit- nail polish, lotion, etc- and leave for a young girl at hospital or shelter.
  30. A set of paper plates, napkins and cups tied up in a bow so a friend doesn't need to wash dishes that night.
  31. Make and deliver homemade bread and jam to a neighbor.
  32. Leave feminine products in restrooms. 
  33. Wipe down public bathroom with Clorox wipes for next woman who enters.
  34. Let someone go ahead of me in line.
  35. Leave fuzzy socks and nail polish on a car with a baby car seat in it- they deserve a little pampering.
  36. Donate cat food to local cat rescue.
  37. Mail small gifts to a few friends, just because.

Make your own hair ties instructions here

I did more than 35 because several were small and I wasn't sure they should fully count.  Like #16, #23 and #34.  I really wanted to show that one could do kind acts without having to spend a small fortune.  It was important to me to highlight that you can be kind for FREE.  So many are small acts.  Plus, y'all know I coupon.  #1, #35 and #36 were free for me to do because everything was acquired free with coupons.  #15 was like $0.50/each after coupons.  

Many were done multiple times. #1, #3, #4, #10 and several others were done more than once.  I did #8 times 12.  #37 times three.  That became so fun, actually!  I had a ball with the acts that involved people in my life.

I also really struggled.  It took me several tries to give away those grocery bags.  I think I made four and only successfully gave away two that day, one later that week and one I gave to a friend as I wrapped her gift in it.  It was hard to give away the homeless blessing bags too (#1).  Which actually didn't come as a huge surprise to me as I am familiar with so many homeless citizens in my area.  They have a lot of pride and honestly, if I was in their shoes, who's to say I wouldn't have the same attitude.  #26 was nearly impossible.  But that too should have been expected (it wasn't...but it should have been) as it's not my first attempt to give away coupons for free things I don't need at the grocery store.  Everyone assumes there's a catch.  #20 took me a week to accomplish because as luck would have it, I kept getting male servers and the gift was very geared towards a female.  So for a week, every time I went into a restaurant, I looked like an idiot toting around this gift bag that then left with me.  By the end of my actual birthday (before going to dinner with Super Nice), I was pretty frustrated.  I had a lot of unkind looks at my efforts to be kind.  And I really struggled to give and share with so many people resisting.  I was all, lean into the hug, yo, I won't bite!  

So the unexpected side effect of this experience is realizing that there is a severe lack of kindness floating around the world.  Because when someone offering to let you go ahead of her in line or give you a free, cute grocery bag that will save you $ every single time you use it is cause for being disgruntled, it just has to mean that the concept of unsolicited kindness is foreign.

The day of my birthday and the week later when I finally finished everything, I wasn't particularly pleased with my experience.  I felt like it royally backfired on me.  And I was super frustrated.

But six months later, I reflect back and think that it was in fact a good experience.  

I worked hard for what I believed was a worthy cause: kindness.  I took a lot of time and care to be creative and broad in my acts.  I picked acts that were free and available to every single one of us on a daily basis.  And acts that were free because of my couponing powers.  And acts that were not free but fun anyway.  Acts that touched those closest to me.  Acts that touched people I will never meet.  

I had a list nearly twice this long and narrowed it down to this list of 35+.  So perhaps another birthday might see a re-visit of this experiment.  

Have you ever participated in a day doing random acts of kindness?  I know it became popular after the CT school shooting so I'm curious to learn if others struggled as much as I did.  Or was it a raging success?  Were any surprises to you?  I mean, I could have just shown you the list and a few photos and not admitted how defeated I felt on several of the acts.  But where's the truth in that?

*I printed the ROAK tags from another website.  I saved the link but it comes up empty.  So if you know where I really got it from, please leave a comment and I will be sure to give a link and proper credit.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sorority Life: The Post College Years

Not only do I feel passionately about Greek Life while you are in college, I am also passionate about it after you graduate.

It is a lifetime commitment.

Joining is not something you do for four years.  Or at least, it shouldn't be.

Think about when you were in school.  Who was there to help your chapter function at the highest level?  Who made sure everyone was on task and met repair men and hired staff and sat in meetings with school deans and talked to parents and talked to sisters and ran board meetings?

Advisors.  Alum advisors.  Who were in their 20's or 30's or 60's.

They weren't paid.  In fact, they spent a heck of a lot to bring treats and send flowers and travel to and from meetings and leave work early to make sure situations were handled.

I strongly encourage every alum to contact your HQ to see if you can be of assistance as an alumnae.  From alum clubs to chapter fundraising to chapter support in the form of every sort of skill...your help is needed.  There are tasks that last a few hours- such as helping with Sorority Recruitment.  And tasks that last a few weeks- such as seeking donations for a new chapter need.  And then of course, the biggie....serving as an advisor.

I volunteered as a Chapter Advisor for seven years.  And while I had a lot of frustrations, I also had tremendous joys.  Most of which came in the form of life-long friendships.

Did I ever tell you that I am dear, sweet friends with several of the women I advised?  Not just the other advisors (I very much call them great friends, too), but a small but fabulous handful of women I worked with over the years, too.  For all of the struggles, that is by far my biggest reward.  And something I would not have in my life if I had not decided to give back to my college sorority!

Have you ever considered serving your sorority in an alum roll?  What's holding you back?

Favorites From So You Think You Can Dance

I first learned about the show, So You Think You Can Dance, via Bestie.  She faithfully watches.  I catch clips here and there but have trouble remembering to watch the show consistently.

To date, my favorite dance ever ever ever is the Statue Dance.  Not only is the dance breathtaking, but I have been a big Ingrid Michaelson fan for years and it's fun to see her music get proper attention.

But this season, this one is winning it for me.  So emotional!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sorority Recruitment Tips: Why You Join And Why You Stay

I just feel so passionately about promoting Greek Life on college campuses.  The benefits are endless.  And the memories are priceless.

Canning Recipe: Basil Jelly

So it turns out there are more than just two ways to use basil.  For as long as I can remember, I've only really used basil to compliment tomatoes or in pesto.  And while both of those uses totally rock my summer lovin' world, that just felt limiting.

Naturally, I turned to Pinterest.

And behold...more fun ideas!

Today...basil jelly!

Despite pinning 4 million recipes, I rarely make jam or jelly.  I just don't use a lot of it.  And jelly tends to be more fussy (in my opinion).  There's less wiggle room in that it needs to jell properly.  Jam and preserves are expected to be looser and chunky.  But needs to look just right!

Well the first go I had at this recipe, did not result in properly jelled jelly.  It wasn't a sauce either.  It was somewhere in between.  But it tasted fan-freakin-tastic!  I used one jar (that did jell more in the fridge) several ways and knew I needed to get this thing down pat.

I found several recipes online and some called for liquid pectin and others powder pectin.  I have strong opinions on this issue.  I DO NOT LIKE liquid pectin.  I have tried both brands that my grocery store carries many, many times.  And I think it gives products a distinctive after taste.  Dislike!  I know other canners have the opposite opinion and that's OK.  We can all add our own personal touches to recipes.  But you will not find me using recipes with liquid pectin.  If I take this much time to make something, I don't want a weird after taste, thankyouverymuch.

So anyway, I re-did the entire batch.  Well...minus that one small jar I already used up for testing purposes.  And added more pectin.

Here is the adjusted recipe that I will use in the future.

Basil Jelly

* 2 cups packed basil
* 3 cups boiling water
* 3 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup lemon juice (bottled)
* 3-5 tbls powder pectin (start with 3..I needed 5)
* 1-3 drops green food coloring (optional)

* Rough chop basil and add to a glass dish.  Top with boiling water.  Cover with cloth and let steep for 15 minutes.
* Clean and sterilize your jars and lids properly while basil is steeping.  Get water bath ready for processing.  Add dish to freezer for testing.
* Strain basil from liquid.  Measure 2 cups and add to pot (I use my enamel cast iron).  Add sugar and lemon juice.  Add food coloring (I added two drops because the color wasn't a very pretty green on its own.)  Bring to a hard boil.

* Once at a hard boil, add in pectin.  Stir well and bring back up to a hard boil.
* Test jam on plate in freezer.  If it jells, you're done.  If not, add the extra tablespoon of pectin.
* I poured the prepared jelly into a large measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring (no idea why I never thought to do this before now).  A ladle works fine too.  Fill jars, clean rims, add lids.
* Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

**I've enjoyed this jelly with both chicken and turkey, on a tomato sandwich and over cream cheese with crackers.  It's delish!  This also makes a wonderful hostess or Christmas gift!

What are your favorite jam or jelly recipes?  Are there any you are just itching to try?

It's Almost Tomato Time

Tomato season typically starts at the beginning of August up here.  But it's late this year.  For everyone.  It took forever to seem tomatoes and then it took forever for them to show any signs of color.

So much promise.

And then all of a sudden...I started seeing some color!  You have no idea who excited I got when I spotted these two tomatoes above.

This was actually the first tomato that I picked.  It's ripe in this photo.  It's a variety called Tomato Ananas Noire and it's pink and green!  Sadly, something ate part of it.  But I just cut that part out and ate the other half.  And it was delicious!

And this is called a Pink Cherry Tomato.  Which is neither the size of a normal cherry tomato, nor the color pink that the package indicated.  But it was supper yummy {about six more have been harvested and eaten since...all awesome}.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Sorority Recruitment Tips

I've done a few posts about being in a sorority, how being in a sorority is nothing like what you see on TV,  my love of Greek Life beyond the college years and Sorority Recruitment (Rush) Tips in the past.  So this week, I am going to do a brief series on a few more tips and reasons to join a college sorority (or fraternity).

Today you get my Top Five Reasons to go Greek...

1. It gives you instant friends.

You just left home for the first time, you are living in a tiny room with a stranger and sharing a bathroom down the hall.  You met some nice girls during Orientation week but you don't feel like you are besties with anyone yet.  You miss your momma, your boyfriend, your best friend and your dog.  So you go through Recruitment.  And before you even pledge a chapter, you meet nice girls.  You giggle and have fun.  And then Bid Day happens.  And these great girls are hugging on you and giving you fun presents and sharing special moments with you.  And there, in that New Member Class full of strangers, you randomly sit down next to this girl who becomes your best college friend.  And the two of y'all befriend lots of other great girls.  And BAM...instant friends!  I'm sorry, but you just can't get that from the business club.

2. It gives you a purpose outside of school books and parties.  It's called Philanthropy.

You're smart.  You know how to study hard and you can write the heck out of a term paper.  You have also mastered the fine art of fraternity parties and tailgates.  Daddy would be proud!  You've probably even joined another club like Student Government or Kickball or Newspaper.  Way to go, you over-achiever!  But you know that there is more to life.  You need an outlet to give back to the community, on a regular basis, and have fun at the same time.  Each sorority and fraternity has a special cause or project.  Not only do you get to participate in your sorority's philanthropy projects, but you will also likely work to support all of the other Greek chapters on your campus, too.  Which is so much fun and involves making more friends.  Win, win, win!

3. It gives you unique opportunities to learn leadership skills.

There certainly are other ways to gain leadership skills on your college campus.  But being a member of a sorority is like being a member of a family, in that every has to pull her weight.  Everyone contributes in some way to the chapter's overall success.  You join committees and have meetings.  You learn how to budget and plan events and work with campus, university and community leaders.  You learn how to most effectively voice your opinion and when it is best to go with the flow.  You learn how to sit on a board and use Robert's Rules of Order.  You learn how to listen without judgement, handle conflict, manage projects and collaborate.  You will be hard pressed to find that combination of leadership skills offered to every single member of another group on campus.

4. It gives you support.

This support can come in many forms over your lifetime.  That's right...I said lifetime.  Don't forget that joining a sorority is a LIFETIME commitment.  In college, you might need support in the form of coffee on a day when you are homesick, a ride from an older sister to and from meetings, study files from sisters who took the same classes previous semesters, a dress for the dance, a date for the dance, encouragement to stay in and study for exams, and so much more.  In your 20's, you might need support in getting into grad school, finding a job, or as your bridesmaids.  And beyond that, there are often programs for scholarships, financial support for emergencies, continued leadership training, and on and on.  Sororities are a lifetime of support and love.

5. It gives you a place to call HOME.

Usually this means a physical house (that's mine above...known as the Wedding Cake House...isn't it amazing?!).  A building where sisters live together and work together and have meetings and hold Recruitment and laugh and study and make memories.  It's a place where you can go as an alum to remember all of the fun you had in college and all of the fun you are still having with your best sister friends.  Sometimes chapters have dorm wings or offices in student centers to call their home base.  And really, it's the same thing.  It's that space that's yours.  The decor and faces are what make that home base special.  It's the place you love to go to when you are not in class and not in your tiny dorm room.  There really is no place like home!


If you were in a sorority in college, what were some of your top reasons for joining?  Did I leave any off my top five list that you think are super important to mention?  

The Pumpkin Hammock Experiment

I have wanted to grow pumpkins for years now.  But space prevented me from even planting a seed in years past.  This year, I went for it.  And to my amazement, I had a few baby pumpkins starting to grow.  Sadly, all but one died.  And the one surviving, thriving pumpkin...well it was growing half way up (or half way down, depending on how you look at it) AND on the outside of the fence (insert memory of pesky garden neighbors).

I was torn between cutting it off or trying to save it.

I'm a glass half full kind of girl.  I opted to save it.

So ladies and gents, may I please present you with the world's most relaxed pumpkin!  Resting comfortably in a custom made squash hammock (not to be confused with a squash house).


Things were going well until I had to go and eff them up.  I decided to tighten the hammock.  I thought I was doing a good thing.

Two days later, I came to the garden and I smelled something rotting.  It took me a minute to figure out what it was but then suddenly...I knew.  I ran over to the fence and sure enough.  She was gone.  I think I actually did this when I tightened the hammock.  Or at least contributed to it.  So it's fault.

A sad, sad day for relaxed pumpkins everywhere.  Sniff!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Garden Harvests

Well I've stopped weighing veggies.  It was too much of a pain because I don't do the vast majority of my gardening at home.  I have a community garden plot.  So in order to weigh everything, I either need to bring the scale with me every day or refrain from the joy that comes from eating treats fresh from the garden.  Neither sounded good to me so that was that.  The weighing stopped.

Purple pepper, yellow peppers, pineapple tomatillos.

But to catch you up...

Squash bugs have killed or nearly killed more than half of my squash and melon plants.  The one pumpkin that I was managing to keep alive, albeit hanging half way up on the outside of the fence, just died.  Sad.  My tomatoes are just starting to ripen.  And I have the worst case of blight, something I've managed to escape every year before now.  My four Beefsteaks are on life support in hopes that the fruit will ripen on the vine before I have to pull the plug.  I could harvest a bucket of kale every single day and still have more.  So I refrained from planting a fall crop.  I have plenty and it should easily last through December if we don't get a big snow.  The spring weather was hard on my beans and peas so I have just a few at a time.  I've only managed to cook them once.  Mostly I just snack on the single bean ripe on any given day.  I pulled up all of my root crops because I didn't know what was good and what was a weed.  And then I almost pulled up the replacement crop of turnips.  And let us not forget about my biggest garden pests- the local neighbors.  When I planted broccoli starts on June 01, a fellow gardener told me they would die.  Well I am delighted to tell you (and him next time I see him) that they not only lived, but I have successfully harvested the sweetest broccoli last week.  Side shoots are now starting to come up so I should be able to eat from it a few more times.  I had no idea broccoli could taste that sweet and tender!  I planted a few more for fall.  I am flush in pineapple tomatillos and ground cherries, which are exactly the same thing if you ask me.  And my purple tomatillo plant is full, so that's hopeful.  For the first time ever, I am successfully growing peppers.  Including a garden surprise, a purple pepper.  I didn't buy purple pepper seeds so this must have been a stowaway.  Such a delightful surprise!

Lots and lots of ground cherries!

Do you see my first black cherry tomato in the middle?  SOOO sweet!


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