Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A King Is Born


source


You're either super into it or you're not.

I am ALL in.

I love royal families.  They fascinate me.


Credit: PA Wire


And like millions around the globe, William and Kate are by far my favorites.  I totally teared up with both the news and then today with the first viewing of the new Price of Cambridge.  So exciting!


First royal wave!


Welcome to the world, little baby boy blue.  Your mum and dad are just glowing with pride.  I can't wait to see how your life plays out.  I suspect you are in very good hands and will be raised surrounded by love and adventure.


Unexpected Garden Pests


Heirloom beefsteak tomatoes that I started from seed!


I'm not sure if I've explained the location of my community garden.  It's in the hood.

Which isn't really a big deal as I live downtown anyway, so it rarely feels scary or out of place to me.  I love urban living.  Plus it is literally a two minute drive from my house to the garden.  Can't beat the commute.

But the neighborhood is rather flavorful.

I mean, I've lived here for many years and thought I'd seen and heard it all.  But I've never been on a street that is so consistently noisy and loud in all my life.  {Which sort of makes me feel better about my block.}  There is always LOUD music blaring somewhere near the garden.  Usually a block away and it is louder than I would ever listen to it in my car.  And there are kids playing in the streets now that school is out.  And then there is the patch of grass outside of the house across from the garden.  Oh Lordy...that's the real kicker.

In that patch of grass...it all goes down.

It started out with the occasional sighting of one man.  But I don't see him much these days.  He was quiet.  I miss him.

Then there were two chairs that would be set up each day.  A man and a woman or two men.  I didn't love it but they didn't bother me so it was fine.

Now they are up to about six chairs for adults plus a slew of children.

A few days ago, a fellow gardener gave the woman {who told me she has eight grandchildren but I swear she is my age} some garlic.  I was getting there as this was going on so I am not sure how it started.  But I suspect she asked him for it.  He was nice and shared.  Then she proceeded to ask for things {most of us are just starting to harvest things so it's not like anyone is flush with extra anything}.  All of this is taking place with her sitting in the grass across the street, and us inside the fenced in garden.  So it's really her yelling across the street.  Then her husband came back and they got in a big fight {screaming, hitting} over...wait for it...wait for it...who should go get the pipe to smoke the weed.  True story.

But now things are out of hand.

Saturday was hot as all get out so I waited until after 7 to go to the garden to water.  And as is usual, I was the only one there.  The grassy patch was full and festive.  They all had those giant beer cans.  Is that what they call a 40?  Did I make that up?  You know what I mean, though, right?  The tall cans.  Anyway, so I am getting out of my far, fumbling with my bags and trying to unlock the garden gate and this man with the giant beer starts yelling at me and walking towards me.  He wants garlic.  I tell him I don't have any {For non gardeners- you plant garlic in the fall and harvest mid-summer.  I didn't start this garden until May.  I couldn't have garlic this year if I wanted it.  I wasn't lying...I am garlic-less.}.  He yells at me {and is still walking towards me} that I am lying.  He knows I have some {this is all over garlic, my friends}.  He saw my dad with the garlic.  Um...that wasn't my dad...that was just a fellow gardener.  He says again that I am lying.  He knows I was out of town for a week and my dad in the red truck watered for me {um...this part was totally true and FREAKED me out...how the hell did he know that...and why did he care??!}.  I said, oh yes, that was my father, but I still don't have any garlic.

I finally get the damn gate unlocked and then fumble to lock myself in {the first time I have ever done that- I always just leave it unlocked as I have never felt unsafe until now}.

Then they all proceed to talk about me.

I planned to harvest a few things for dinner but just watered and left.  I didn't want to get hurt over a small bag of lettuce and kale.

On Sunday, I went back earlier, around 5.  I was hoping fellow gardeners would be there.

They weren't.  {I am almost always alone in there.  I think I must be there three times as much as everyone else.  It's totally normal for me to be there for three hours and not see any other gardeners.  I don't for a skinny minute think that means I am a better gardener though.  I strongly suspect it means I am inefficient if they gardens look super healthy and they are there less often.  A lot less often.}

The posse was out on the grass again but they were just starting to drink {a small fight ensued over who should go down to the corner store to buy the woman a beer...they love those giant cans of beer}.  With them not totally drunk yet, it helped.  But the woman yelled in to ask me for tomatoes.  None of mine are ripe.  It will be weeks before I can harvest any.

But here's the thing.  I don't feel like sharing.  And I think it's rude that I have been yelled at to give them things the last three times I was there.

The community garden program is open to everyone.  It's $30 a year plus a few hours of group prep work for a plot.  This includes tips, free seeds and free plants.  They could plant their own damn garden.

They also sit out there with kids and grandkids rolling down the hill into a busy street, using only screaming at them as a tactic to stop them from getting hit by a car.  Not to mention they clearly find a way to pay for alcohol and drugs.  On top of that, my city has one of the most amazing farmer's markets in walking distance from them every Saturday.

They could afford to buy a head garlic or a fresh tomato.  I mean, I've never priced giant beers but I am sure it would cover the cost of a tomato.

I am all about giving back to those in need.  And I love sharing.  But I am so super turned off by the demand to give things that I truly don't even have to give {seriously...I don't have garlic...and that guy harvested it all this weekend so that ship has sailed}.




The good news is that my tomatoes are super healthy!  So in a few weeks, I should have lots and lots of 'maters to eat and preserve.  I mean, if only one thing is a success, I want it to be tomatoes!  I really believe my tomato plant prep is paying off.  And so far I am really loving the Florida Weave method of staking them.
If you have suggestions on how to handle the garden neighbor situation, please let me know.  Should I ignore them?  I seriously think that giving them things just makes them demand it more.  But maybe I'm wrong.  Let me know what you think...



Monday, July 22, 2013

Florida Weave Tomato Staking Method




Going into this gardening adventure, I read a lot about various methods of caring for all sorts of vegetables.  I was worried about the tomatoes the most.  I didn't want to have to invest in 20 new tomato cages that I've never found to really be all that great at supporting plants.  Honestly, my goal was both to support the plants and to spend as little as possible as far as both time and money.  Because what if I bought 20 cages and discovered mid-summer that gardening on this scale wasn't my bliss?  What the heck would I do with them then?  Even if I did discover that gardening was my bliss {um...it totally is}, I don't have tons of space to keep 20 cages on top of everything else I will end up storing over the winter {hello huge fence that I put in...and my squash house}.

I read about the Florida Weave Method and decided that was the best way to go.

I had already planned to plant my tomatoes in a long row.  And this just seemed to be a match to my existing plans.

What is the Florida Weave Method?

Let me tell you!




It's basically strong stakes {I used those metal fence T posts} and strong rope {in my case...nylon...and pink...of course}.  All can be purchased at any Home Depot.  And at the end of the season, the stakes will be easy to store.

Because I have a very long line of plants, I have four or five metal posts.  But if you only have three or four plants, two would be sufficient.  Then I basically did a circle with the rope, moving up every few inches.  So start maybe 6" off the ground and wrap the twine around the posts, keeping it fairly taut.  Then do it again about 6" higher, and keep going until you reach the top of the stakes.

I did this at the time of planting, even though most articles I read said to add strings as you grow along.  Let me tell you Bob...I was the wise one there.  Your plants grow at different rates and then all of a sudden, they grow faster than you can imagine.  It's sooo much easier to manage this task {which isn't difficult...if you can walk and tie a knot, you possess all the necessary skills} without worrying about hurting your plants.  As the plants grow, train them between the ropes.

I already owned four or five tomato cages so I just added them in too.  I mean, I already had them, might as well put them to use.

For many reasons {so far...I reserve the right to come back and tell you in two months that this method sucks}, I love this method.  It's very flexible and can be made as large or small as you want.  You likely won't re-use the ropes from year to year but the posts can be used for this or a variety of other uses for a lifetime.  It also takes up less space in the garden than the bulky cages.  And allows you to fit more plants in a row {I used the square foot method for planning my garden}.  And best of all, it really seems to be doing a great job of keeping my plants supported.




At the moment, my plants are 4-5' tall, even though I planted them crazy deep in the beginning.  The posts are 6' but are dug into the ground about 1'.  I will prune my plants so that they are not more than 6' tall {so no more than 1' above the support system}.

Have you used the Florida Weave Tomato Staking Method before?  Or another non-cage, non-Florida Weave method that you suggest I try next year?  Gardening is all about trial and error and I am always open to new things.


I Wore A Bathing Suit...And Other Florida Adventures


Rubbing my 'bows.


Well it's high time I update y'all on my perfect week in Florida.  It involved a daily dose of the above.  Snuggles with Goddaughter.  And elbow rubs.

Yes...I said elbows.  It's her thing.  It's how she self-soothes.  She does it to herself but ideally, she does it to loved ones.  And it's super weird.  Especially when she is in the shopping buggy at Publix (best grocery store ever) and insists you lean in so she can get a good 'bow rub in.

But all that said, I think it's the most endearing thing in the world!

She could rub my elbows all day and night and I would love it.  It's so sweet (except when she pinches...but mostly it's sweet) and just this personal, physical connection.  A precious, albeit odd, moment between just the two of us.

My 'bows miss the daily rubbies.

Oh and Godson J....he continues to be the coolest kid on the planet.  His voice sets my heart on fire.  It is so sweet and adorable...I melt!  He's so funny.  So is Goddaughter E.  They both had me cracking up the whole week.  Godson is also into music.  Like, really into it.  A family favorite is Pitch Perfect.  That's why bestie Florida and her hub insisted I watch it because the family sings from the movie daily.  {I've Got The Magic is still bloody stuck in my head because Godson sings it non-stop.}

Bestie Florida is just the best of the best when it comes to human beings.  She's funny as all get out {and probably giving herself a high five that I declared that on here...she too thinks she's funny} and has the best sense of humor.  She is the most amazing momma ever and is patient beyond words with her kids.  She also holds her kids to this amazing standard when it comes to being kind and polite.  The world needs more parents like her!

Bestie Florida and I had a slumber party every night because her hub is the greatest hub in the world.  He slept on the couch so I could avoid the evil, make my face get all puffy, why do people love them cats.  {Side note: Zyrtec is hands down the most amazing over the counter drug for allergies.  I have never been able to be around cats with any meds the way I am using Zyrtec.  It's more expensive than others on the market but worth it!  If you have severe allergies like me, I seriously recommend it.  I also like the way it is packaged as it is easy to keep one pill in my make-up bag at all times, just in case.}  He's the best.

I got to see Godsister's baby belly.  Holy heck is she cute!  And Yaya's new home.  So pretty {minus the cat...that came into the home via marriage...men and cats....that's just weird!}with a fabulous living room.


Hometown love.


I went to the beach.  Or...close to it.  I'm not a fan of sand.  So it should come as no surprise to those who really know me that I never once set foot in the stuff.  But I was like right there and looked at it.  A lot.  I even went swimming.  Which should be the headline of this entire post, y'all!  I have not been swimming since Little's wedding in Hawaii.  And even then I think I only went in once.

It's entirely a body image issue.  I mean, I'm a Florida girl who grew up swimming in her back yard.  But I am heavier than I've been in a while.  I'm 15 lbs heavier than I was last summer.  And it's not like I was exactly thin last summer.  I just don't feel great about my middle.  And when you don't feel great, well, you just don't feel great.  A lot of clothes don't fit me.  I refuse to buy bigger clothes.  I justify wearing running shorts because my big activity this summer is gardening.  Anyway, that's not my point.

My point is that I went swimming.  Like three or four times!

Be proud of me.  Seriously.  For me, that's HUGE.

I also only did it because it was for my Godbabies.  I will pretty much do anything for those loves.

We didn't do anything huge this visit.  No weddings or babies or major events.  But I think it was the nicest visit I have had with them.  And as they are all really nice, that's saying something.  It was just awesome to play daily and talk daily and get hugs {and elbow rubs} daily.  I definitely got more hugs in that one week than I get all year.  It was awesome!  Florida and I made an apple pie and then proceeded to eat most of it ourselves.  Straight from the pie plate.  Klassy...but delicious!

I cried a lot {as usual} when I said goodbye.  In general, I don't like goodbyes.  But leaving Florida and our her babies just breaks my heart.  I want to see them every day.  Or at least every week.

One day...I hope.



Friday, July 19, 2013

Cups.


I was out of town last week and did a super duper {if I do say so myself} job of banking blog posts in advance.  However, as usual, playing catch up at home has left little time to sit down and blog this week.  I just got back Wednesday so I am cutting myself some slack.  I'll be back on track shortly.  Perhaps even later today.

So until I have time to tell you about my fantastic trip to love on the Godbabies or to update you on the jungle I call my garden or gossip about important things like the Royal Baby.... please enjoy this little treat.

I've blogged about my love for Sam Tsui several times in the past.  Seriously...I'm a big BIG fan!  He's awesome.  You heard it here first because I have no doubt he will do big things in the not so distant future.  Last week, I watched Pitch Perfect with bestie Florida {OMG so cute...watch it!}and was introduced to the Cups Song.  So clever.

Well this is a combo of Cups and Sam.  Hello two minutes of pure joy.  Consider it a happy Friday from me to you.  You're welcome.




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Had To Say No




I found out that my Community Garden program had a new garden this summer.  And they were giving away plots just for this summer to gardeners willing to keep them up, in addition to their regular gardens.

So I asked if I could participate.  I asked.  They didn't come to me.

They said yes- and suggested I go look at it first.

It's close to me- exactly 11 mins drive according to Google Maps.  But not that close as my current garden is 2 mins drive.  I could walk if it wasn't so bloody hot and I wasn't always lugging 400 essentials with me each time.

But it's bigger.  The allotment is nearly TWICE the size of my current one!  Wow- that's a draw!!

Then there's the kicker.  No water.  There isn't a water source at the moment.  So you have to lug your own water in.

In this heat, you have to water every day unless it rains hard.  I would have to fill up gallons and jugs at home, load them into my car, drive 11 mins each way, lug the jugs into the garden, and ration it out because to get more would involve a 22 min drive round trip and a lot of effort.




With a heavy heart, after foolishly saying yes, a week later I emailed the garden coordinator with my tail between my legs to say no.  Below would be my space (well mine would be in the middle of that).  Notice it's all weeds.

I already spend an extreme amount of time in my current tiny garden.  If this offer were in the same garden space, that would be one {ideal} thing.  But it's not.  And it's just got too many factors that feel too big for me to fully take on this summer.




Oh I'm so bummed though!  Because I was really bummed when I realized how small my current garden space was.  I was told that all the spaces were the same size only to find out on day one that was not at all the case.  And it's nearly impossible to get more space.

Do you see why I was so torn?

But ugh...you think I did the right thing...right?  I wanted that extra space so badly.  But the circumstances...they just weren't right.  

I know it sounds silly but this seriously brought several days worth of stress going back and forth.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Early July Community Garden Overview





This was my garden on July 04th.  A lot has changed as I have added more straw everywhere, including under the tomatoes {there is no straw under them in this photo- it happened a few days later} and the radishes have all been pulled {larger lighter green bushy plants to right of tomatoes above}.

 But more than that, I have been out of town this week.  So I am sure the garden is full of both weeds {even though I have a nine million foot layer of newspaper and straw down} and new growth {don't worry- it has been getting watered daily in my absence}.

I can't wait to get home soon to see if I have more tomatoes growing!  Because while I am excited about everything in the garden, let's just admit that I am in it for the t'maters.  Anything else is purse bonus.

Have you been able to harvest any tomatoes yet this year?  I'm still at least a month away before I can harvest any and the wait is killing me!

Blueberry Basil Balsamic Jam With Vanilla Bean




I can't seem to find a better name for this jam.  It has strawberries in it too because it was originally intended to be all strawberry.  But the store was out of strawberries and I was tired and didn't want to go to a second store so I picked up blueberries and just made things up as I went along.

I do plan to try it again, adjusting a few things, with all strawberries soon though.

I also didn't add enough basil to my recipe.  I've adjusted the measurements below to what you should do.  But I forgot to grab basil from the garden and it was close to 9PM when I got home.  I was not about to go back.  I was left with what I have growing at home.  Which isn't much right now.  So this is very much a do what I say and not what I do moment.

But that aside, trust me that you want to make this jam!  I LOVE the balsamic.  It's not super strong but it definitely adds richness to the end product.  The last few years, I've become head over heels for vanilla beans.  In something like this, it adds a very soft background.  I'm a big fan.  So be sure to pin this one for later- it's a fun twist on a traditional jam.

Blueberry Basil Balsamic Jam With Vanilla Bean

Ingredients:
* 2 lbs berries (I used 1.5 lbs blueberries and .5 lbs strawberries)
* 25 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
* 2 1/2 cup white sugar
* 3 tbls lemon juice
* 4-5 tbls aged balsamic vinegar
* 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
* 3 tbls powder pectin (I've decided I prefer powder vs liquid pectin...sorry I can't help with conversions to liquid...maybe one pouch would be my guess)




Directions:
* Macerate berries, sugar and vanilla bean (both the scraped seeds and whole pod) for a few hours to get the juices flowing.  Just put everything in a bowl and go about your day.
* In a big pot (I always use cast iron to avoid any funky flavor transfers), combine all ingredients minus pectin.  Bring to a low simmer for about 15 mins.
* Taste test.  Add sugar, balsamic, etc as needed.
* Once satisfied with the flavor, remove the vanilla bean pod.  Discard.
* Using a stick blender, blend to your desired thickness.  (You can also do this with a potato masher, blender, etc)  I blended about 50% of the berries because I like a jam that's chunky monkey.
* Bring mixture back up to a boil.  Once raging, add pectin.
* After one minute, test on dish in freezer.
* Funnel into jars and process in hot water bath for 15 mins.
* Enjoy on toast, yogurt, a shoe, or with some sharp cheese.







Monday, July 15, 2013

The Big Radish Harvest. Or The Lesson To Stop Growing Veggies I Don't Really Like.




I pulled the rest of the radishes.  And planned to cook them because I found a recipe and I've decided I greatly dislike them raw.

But I got side-tracked.  And totally forgot to cook them before I went out of town.

So chances are good they are turning to mush in my fridge.

Sad but true veggie tales.

It's OK.  I really only grew them so I could see where the carrots and such were coming in.  They were worth the sacrifice.

Oh but they weighed in at 2 lbs 11.75 oz.  Woo hoo!

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby


image


A few weeks ago I went with Super Nice to go see The Great Gatsby and I totally neglected to share a little review.

My expectations were less than great for this flick.  It got pretty terrible reviews.  I really just went for the sake of going and to sit in a cold, dark theater shoveling my face full of popcorn.

Um...I don't know what those movie reviewers were talking about.

This movie ROCKED!

I thought the acting was really good.  The scenery was excellent.  The plot was fantastic.  The ending was tragic and kept me on my toes.  The costumes were phenomenal!  And the music was by far the best soundtrack I've ever heard.  Ever.

So in review...go see the movie and then download the soundtrack.  And wait for the costumes to {hopefully} influence a few {affordable} fashion lines next season!

Very rarely do I swoon over a movie.  The last time was after War Horse.  But I think The Great Gatsby was even better.

Have you seen The Great Gatsby yet?  What did you think?  Have you seen any other unexpectedly great movies lately?


Sunday, July 14, 2013

As Seen On TV...Who Buys This Stuff?!


Have you seen the latest As Seen On TV product to solve all your hair woes?  They call it the air curler and I just cannot imagine how it could possibly do what it promises.

You take that pink thing you see below and attach one end to your hair dryer.  Then shove some of your hair in the clear pink cup part and turn it on.  Magically, it just blows your hair into a curl.




It of course promises to do this.  But what I think will really happen is that it will turn your hair into a rat's nest.

Who comes up with these crazy products?  And don't you love that if you pay an addition shipping fee, you can get a "bonus" of four hair clips and a stick on mirror?  Such a deal! 

Be honest...have you every purchased anything crazy off the TV?  Other than a few workout videos, I've not.  But to this day, I still secretly want a Chia Pet.  And anything Ron Popeil sells.







Lousy Lavender





My lavender plant is sad and pitiful!

And it has been since being planted May 31.

I thought it would acclimate and perk up.  It was doing so well before it was planted.  But a month and a half later and it's still this droopy state of affairs.  Such a bummer too as this was my first year to have a chance to plant my own lavender.  It's one of the few floral scents I enjoy (the other being gardenia which for sure would never grow this far north).

What are your favorite floral scents?  Have you had any luck growing your favorites in plant, rather than perfume, form?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Great Dollar Tree Finds




Do you have Dollar Tree stores near you?  I am a big fan!  Especially when it comes to their spices.  A big thing of minced onion that tastes exactly the same as any brand in the grocery store.  For a fraction of the price.  I do have fancier containers of good cinnamons for baking.  But I used this container when I was starting my seeds to prevent mold growth.  I worked really well and as a fun side effect, made the seed trays smell fantastic.  Cinnamon is also a great substitute for rooting hormone when propagating a plant from a cutting, so says Pinterest.

Do you think I'm crazy for loving the Dollar Tree?  Do you secretly love it too?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Strange Dreams





I've had a lot of strange dreams lately.  Touching on all topics, including death.  Of an actual, real life, I see her regularly, friend.  {she's alive in real life though...posting on FB and all that jazz}

I go through cycles when it comes to dreaming.  Most of the time, I don't dream.  Or have zero memory of them if I do have dreams.  And this can last years.

But the last few years, I've had spurts of dreaming here and there.  And lately, crazy crazy crazy.  Like, it's not totally uncommon for me to wake up crying or in a sweat or upset over whatever I just dreamed about.

I really hope this is just some sort of age thing and not a sign that I need a vacation to a mental ward.

Do y'all dream frequently?  Is it weird that I don't {normally}?  Quite honestly, I find it very exhausting.  I look forward to going back to plain old boring sleeping.  I don't think I can handle many more 3AM crying wake-up calls!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Perfect View




This was my perfect view on July 4th.  Just across the river from Downtown Albany.

I love this little park.  It's a tradition to go here every year for a picnic and awesome people watching.  There's a boat launch so it's fun to see the boats- large and small- make their way into and out of the Hudson River.

I know it's late to ask but...what did you do to celebrate the 4th of July this year?  Did you have a great view of fireworks?  Stay home with the kiddos?  Party like a rock star?  Eat until you were fat and sassy?  

Have You Ever Grown Tomatillos?


This year I decided to grow tomatillos for the first time.  I LOVE tomatillo salsa and thought it would be a fun garden treat.  Though instead of the most frequently seen green tomatillos, I am growing instead purple and pineapple varieties.

Tomatillos require at least two plants in order to produce fruit.  So here I am growing nine plants (two pineapple, four purple, and three randoms that I assume are green but I picked them up for free from my Community Garden office) and in a spot in my backyard I am growing four more (one purple and three pineapple).


Day of planting: 06/02/13


Unless you have space to allow the plants to sprawl all over the ground, you will need to manage some sort of stake system.  I'm using wooden stakes and pantyhose as ties.




As this is, like so many others in this garden allotment, an experiment for me, I will consider it a success if I just get a few of each variety to nibble on.  But it's no secret that I will JUMP FOR JOY if I grow enough to make salsas and other fun treats!!


One week later: 06/09/13


06/22/13


First baby pineapple tomatillo sighting: 06/25/13


Growing full and healthy: 07/03/13


Have you ever grown tomatillos?  Do you have any tips for me?  Or a favorite recipe to share?  Other than salsa, I have no idea what to do with them.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Good Reads: My Favorite Magazine. Urban Farm: Sustainable City Living.





This is my new favorite magazine.  Urban Farm: Sustainable City Living.

I'm sure y'all are riveted.  Ha.  And much of what's inside doesn't necessarily pertain to me.  Yet.  One day I will have chickens and bees.  But it's fun to see what other gardens look like and tips and tricks geared specifically toward those of us in cities.

As I am sure this isn't a favorite of yours, what's your favorite magazine read these days?



Day-cation To The Berkshires


One of my sweetest girlfriends from the League, Super Nice, is always in the know about local-ish happenings.  So she always gives me a head's up to join her on little adventures to things like art shows around the general area.  Which is fantastic because with just about everything, I tend to find out about things the day after they end.

Last Saturday, we headed over to the Berkshires to go to a great art show and then meander though cute towns like Lenox, MA.  The weather was insanely hot and humid the day before but we got there fairly early and beat the heat.  It was the most perfect day in the not yet steamy sunshine enjoying some great (and crazy) art.

As usual, I snapped a few photos of things that caught my eye for one reason or another....




These are just weird.  And creepy.  Naturally I had to share.  They remind me of these from last year.




While not even a tiny bit my taste, the above tea pot was nothing short of amazing.  It was huge and had more detail than you can imagine.  I can't imagine how much time went into these pieces.




I LOVE sailboats!  And I loved this artist.  Truly stunning pieces.




Oh hello...look who found a pink and green sailboat painting!




Below was another favorite.  Bunny sculptures!  They were just so cute and whimsical sitting in the grass on a sunny day.  There were actually ballet dancer sculptures too but I didn't take a very good photo of them.  They would fit so well in Saratoga though.




While the food at shows of this caliber tends to be great (think very gourmet and fresh, not fried fair food), Super Nice suggested that we instead head over to Lenox to go to a cafe she recently discovered (she is seriously so in the know...everyone needs a friend like Super Nice).  Let me tell you, Bob, that Super Nice was SPOT ON!

Haven Cafe in downtown Lenox, MA was the absolute perfect lunch/brunch spot.  It was full of locals (best sign!), the line was out the door (tells me it's worth it to wait), and people were OK with standing to eat their food while a table became available (you should be jealous because it was just that good).  We were lucky to snag a table before ordering (you order, they give you a number, you get a table, they find your number and deliver your food) so I held down the fort while Super Nice waited in the line.  My scrambled eggs with smoked salmon over a bed of fresh greens and a side of roasted potatoes and garlic cloves was so dang good, I wanted to lick my plate.  I didn't....but between us....I did think about it.

The town of Lenox is so cute.  I can't believe this was my first visit as it is totally the sort of place I love.  Very much reminds me of my beloved Manchester, VT.  Oh and they are on top of the food scene there.  I spied at least three or four big "Gluten Free" signs outside of cafes.

So if you are in the NY/New England area, I highly recommend a visit to the Berkshires.  So much to do if you want to plan a mini visit or a long vacation.

Have you taken any fun day-cations lately?  And have you been to the Berkshires?  Any suggestions for my next trip up 90 later this summer?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Free Plants. Thank You Capital District Community Gardens!


I grew most of my plants from seed this this year {I am a big fan of Baker Creek seeds!}.  Which was a total adventure and gamble that I will absolutely revisit next year.  I love being able to be part of the process tip to tail!  Plus, you are able to grow so much more for so much less and have access to a MUCH wider variety of plants when you grow from seeds.

For me, it has been totally worth it {however let's reserve the rave review until I actually harvest any tomatoes}.  I've learned so much and really enjoyed the process.

What I didn't realize was that my community garden would have access to not only seeds {for free} but also plants from local farmers.  They are all made available to the community gardners in the program.  For free.

So even though my allotment was over-full already, I just couldn't resist the treats!  And actually, it worked out as I lost most of my eggplants to bugs and broccoli to {I think} squirrels.  So I used these plants to fill in the gaps.




I NEED This Sail To Sable Dress




Has anyone tried on a Sale to Sable dress?  Are they as cute on as they look here?  I am IN LOVE {like full on heart palpitations, weak in the knees, not lust but true love, love} with the kelly green and navy trim dress in the center.  My only concern is the length of the slits up the sides.

The company came to the AJLI Annual Conference but I was too overwhelmed by the crowds and having to change in a {crowded} hotel ballroom bathroom and look at yourself in a mirror surrounded by zillions of pretty girls to give them any attention.  It was all just too much for me to process as far as buying clothing.

Which is where y'all come in.  Give me the skinny.  How do Sail to Sable dresses fit?  How to they fit those of us who are {extra extra} blessed in the chest?  And has anyone seen this dress online?  Give me your honest thoughts...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Strawberry Mango Fruit Crisp


One of the things I made for the last food swap, in addition to Blueberry Mango Soup, was a fruit crisp.  In this case, strawberry mango.  Such a great summer fruit combo!

I adore fruit crisps because they are so much faster than pies.  And while my homemade apple pie with my perfect homemade pie crust (or really good gluten free pie crust) is my favorite sweet treat of all time, a fruit the speed of a fruit crisp is hard to deny.

For those who like precise numbers, this recipe is not for you.  I've never once used a recipe.  It's different every time.  I just wing it until it looks right.  And honestly, it's really hard to mess up, so it's not worth stressing over.

Strawberry Mango Fruit Crisp

Ingredients:
* Fruit.  Berries and stone fruit work really well.  So do apples but I personally prefer them in a pie.
* Sugar.  To taste.  It will depend on how sweet the fruit is.  You might only need a tablespoon or two.
* Cornstarch.  Likely a few tablespoons at most.
* Oats.
* Brown Sugar.
* Butter.  Coconut oil will work too.




Directions:
* In a bowl, combine fruit and a bit of sugar.  Let it sit and macerate until the juices start to flow.
* In a separate bowl, combine oats, brown sugar and butter.  Combine with your hands until it's about the consistency of thick Play Doh.
* Once juice flows, take some of it (1/4-1/2 cup) in a separate bowl or cup.  Mix in a few tablespoons of cornstarch.  Mix until no lumps are formed.
* Add cornstarch slurry back into bowl of fruit.  Combine.  Check for sweetness.  Last chance to add sugar, if needed.  I also add a dash of cinnamon and ginger, but that's also to taste.
* Place fruit in baking dish of choice and top with the oat mixture.
* Bake at (or around) 350 until bubbly and crispy.  About 30-50 mins, depending on size.




Hello happiest gift ever!  Fruit crisp tied up in a bow!







First Community Garden Harvest


It's small...but meant so much to me.  This was my very first community garden harvest.  Lettuce and radishes.

I need to find a non-raw way to eat the radishes though because I am finding that I just do not at all enjoy them raw.  Too woody and waaaay too spicy.  Do you have any suggestions?  And let's play a game...how many tomatoes and squash do you think I will harvest?  If I were you, based on my history, I would round DOWN when it comes to squash.


First harvest: 1oz lettuce


First harvest: 5.25 oz radishes and greens.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Life Before Google Was Hard!


I Love These Shoes!


From Zulily


So I was telling a girlfriend that I got a great deal last week on some new kicks from Zulily.  She hadn't heard of the site so I sent her a link.  In the process, I found these to swoon over.  Go Dawgs!  I am not wishing even one minute of summer away.  Not one!  But when it leaves, I have football to look forward to.  Woot!




But then I found all of these cute shoes by Lindsay Phillips, creator of Switchflops.  Lots of cute flops plus her fun line of sandals, wedges and my favorite, ballet flats.  For both women and children.  I love that you can buy new snappy things (obviously the very proper and technical term) to chance out the look for like $7.  So fun.


Switchflops

Love love the ballet flats!



Lobstah love!




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