From the Garden to the Counter

The spider wort has taken over the porch border garden. Once I have a decent weather weekend I will go forth and do battle.

I’ve cut back a lot this year on growing edibles. In the past I’ve gotten carried away with all sorts of herbs and we almost never used some of them. There are others, like lemon balm, that we almost never use but since it’s thriving and happy it got to stay. 🙂 I have one cherry tomato plant and one red pepper (sweet) plant. I don’t think I have any other vegetable attempts.

parsely, dill, arugula, romaine, leaf lettuce

I was making some salads for us to enjoy in the intermittent hot weather. Aside: it’s been as crazy here as in other places in the world. For example: Wednesday it was 91 degrees in the afternoon. Saturday morning it was 41. Memorial day we did finally edge up into the 70s, but only late in the afternoon before it then started cooling down again. Here we are on Friday – HUMID and in the 70s and we’re due for thunderstorms (heads up, Honour). They are promising 80s on Saturday and – oh hallelujah! – 90s on Sunday. I’ve been sooooo COLD. Back to the salads! There are 3 types of lettuce: arugula, red leaf, and romaine. They were for my tossed salad. The dill and parsley were for the chickpea salad. Yummy!

Ready to cook. Fire pit at the ready, also 2 propane heaters if needed.

The Memorial Day weekend was, as I said, VERY cold and VERY rainy on Saturday and Sunday. Monday things finally started to dry and warm up. We had TEN PEOPLE on the deck for BBQ dinner. It was GLORIOUS! We’d not been together since Feb 2, 2020. So much hugging and smiling and laughing!! It was wonderful to be back together again. I got to show off my latest acquisition for the deck – my new ice cooler. 🙂 My sister and I had gone to an Antiques & Collectibles show back in April. This Italian ice cart caught my eye, caught my sense of humor, and I thought it would be perfect on the deck. When my husband texted back to say he AGREED, the deal was done. 🙂 He keeps saying “we’ll get a lot of use out of it” and I keep laughing and saying “oh my it is so kitsch that it is art and I LOVE it”. Seriously – it gives me such joy. I smile every time I see it. And yes – it is useful. It holds A LOT of ice. Deceptively so. We had 3 bags of ice in it for the BBQ and it looked paltry. But our drinks were cold!

No need for shade. We did light the firepit at dusk and it put out a good amount of heat and a LOT of beauty.

Cat Sightings

Because sometimes only a box will do
Old sleepy white cat on a VERY VERY HOT evening (she has the sweetest face, even asleep)

Why Consumers Feel Abused

Subtitled: Would you prefer to save over $1000?

Maybe I’m becoming a grumpy old lady, maybe everyone I know is grumpy. It seems to me that for the last several years we’ve all been feeling that the consumer experience has deteriorated. Automated computerized customer support. More restrictions on every type of purchase, fewer kindnesses and rewards. Not only is all our personal data being mined for corporate benefit, but the user interfaces often leave us feeling like dirt underfoot (okay – that last might be a little harsh, but I think you understand what I’m saying).

My son and I book flights a few times a year between NJ and AZ. We often will check out dates if we think there’s a chance we might be traveling back and forth. I remember many many years ago my friend Chestnut pointed out very strongly that she had better results using a private browsing window instead of her default setup. Probably there are many folks who have told me this over the years but for some reason I associate the information with Chestnut. 🙂 I want to go visit my son at the end of June. I checked flights for non-stop first class for the dates I thought would work for me. The cost was over $2000. Even considering the fact that I do indulge myself, that was simply way too expensive for me to justify. Out of curiosity I tried opening a private browser window to see if the price changed. Oh. Em. Gee. $1000 cheaper. Same flights. Today I went to book the tickets. I logged in to the airline directly, gave all my identifying info, picked my flights. $2297.80. No sort of frequent customer discount, no sort of reward or special recognition. I opened up the private browser window. Same flights: $1254.80. That’s a difference of $1043. WHY???? I know why. Because they “know” that I’m going to fly to PHX anyway. But hey – that stranger? – maybe we can hook THEM! Except of course at $2298 I am NOT going to fly. Maddening. Absolutely maddening.

Donuts

Chocolate fudge cake donuts with vanilla and chocolate icing. 6 toppings: left to right on the vanilla: shaved chocolate, coconut, crumbled chocolate chip cookie, crumbled peanut butter cookie, choc chip cookie, sprinkles w/ chocoate, colored sprinkles

I like challenges. They can’t be soooo hard that I categorize them as “near impossible and probably not worth the effort”. They need to be attainable. I also like feeding people, I like being able to give folks ‘special’ gifts, and in general I like to do things that will make others happy. As I’ve mentioned before, most of my baking needs to be sugar-free so that my husband and brother-in-law can enjoy the product. I know that my brother-in-law LOVES donuts. They are one of his favorite treats. My understanding of donuts is that they are fried, not baked. Then last August I saw a recipe for BAKED donuts on the King Arthur Baking blog! I printed it and saved it in my recipes book (yes, I know that’s extremely old-fashioned – printing out recipes and saving them on paper in a notebook). I figured that some day I’d have time and energy to make them.

Wilton MEGA donut baking pan – you can make a lot, but hard to flip over to remove the donuts 🙂 I managed

My brother-in-law’s birthday was last week. I of course waited until the last minute to see if I had all the ingredients to make donuts. I was in great shape except for a donut pan. Well OF COURSE it requires a special baking pan! I ordered from two different sites, hoping ONE of them would deliver before his birthday. The big W came through the day before, the big A delivered on the birthday. I hadn’t realized how HUGE the one pan was from W. To be honest I didn’t read either description much – all I read was “donut pan” and the delivery date. 🙂 The other thing I was lacking was sugar-free toppings. I knew I was going to modify the chocolate fudge cake recipe to have a white icing on some, besides the chocolate icing. I ran to the local store to get some SF toppings. Totally useless grocery store – NOTHING SF in the cookies. Really???? Sigh. So I gathered toppings that had sugar and headed home to bake and ice and top. I think they came out well. My husband did the taste testing and he liked them. I saved out a whole donut (we’d split the first one- half for us to taste just the plain donut and then half to taste the icing) for him and it vanished quickly. 🙂 I made a total of 16 donuts and brought 14 of them to my brother-in-law, who promptly ate one, no pause. Happy birthday!

Wilton donut baking pans – MUCH easier to manage than the big one

Only Needs Sun, Rain, and 36 Years

May 22

This was one of the very first plantings we did when we moved in 37 years ago. That fall my sister and I went to the nurseries (and there used to be many more than there are now) and we picked out 2 white azaleas, a rhododendron, and 2 Andromeda bushes. Only 1 of the white azaleas could hold its own against the rhododendron. There is an Andromeda bush (I think) still hanging on behind the white azalea. The other Andromeda bush thrives at the front corner, well away from the rhododendron. A friend has told me she wants a rhodo like mine. All she needs is another 36 years. 🙂

May 13
May 15
May 16
May 18

FINALLY!!! I Had Visitors!

Oh my goodness gracious! FINALLY! Had both my shots, passed the 2 week wait, the governor said we could gather in groups outside. Obviously the word has gotten around and I had TWO visitors this week!!! The first was the swallowtail butterfly, who wouldn’t stop flitting here and flitting there. I’m not sure which version of swallowtail but definitely a BUTTERFLY! And then as I sat outside relaxing, enjoying the warm sunny day – a Tufted Titmouse dropped by!!! (I only know THAT because TT was much more cooperative about having a picture taken. I could text it to my sister the bird expert to find out who had dropped by.) Wonderful to FINALLY be entertaining guests once more!

We’re Going to Need a Bigger Chair

Other title suggestions:

It’s Hard Being a Cat

Get As Much Sun as Possible

Why Are They Always Looking at Me?

Yes, I’m VERY Comfortable, thank you.

No, I’m NOT interested in using the bed you bought for me.

I Think This Is A First

Flowering vinca 🙂

Look! Purple flowers!!! I’ve had vinca vines many times in the past. I like having them trailing down from hanging pots, swaying with the breezes. I like them in my big planters lined on the front walk, ‘connecting’ lawn to flower. In all that time, however, I don’t think I have ever had them flower. I’m guessing that is because I usually don’t buy them until sometime in May, which might be past their flowering time. This year life continues to be ‘different’. No – this has nothing to do with the pandemic. This is about the seasons.

Dusty miller, vinca, mint, jasmine, and other stuff. dianthus???

The past winter was very mild. Other than some crazy cold days in February, it wasn’t that cold. I have been amazed at how many of my plants wintered over on the porch. Even my rosemary, which doesn’t make it onto the porch, survived. And thrived. Usually it hangs in there until February, then one night it will throw up its metaphorical arms and die. Not this year. I have all sorts of things coming back, which is great! What’s not so great is that for many of them I have no idea what they are. 🙂 Ah, the perennial question: Are they weeds or are they flowers?

dianthus? thyme, sage (ignore the little sign – it’s sage, not savory), vinca

Some things are recognizable- jasmine, vinca, dusty miller. The herbs: lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, lemon balm. LOTS of mint. I think the dianthus is back. But there is a lot of green that I’m not recognizing.

Amazingly healthy rosemary, mint, and green stuff.

I cropped the photos so you don’t see the 2 huge bags of potting soil and the huge bag of top soil. I’ve been buying more planters and pots. 🙂 I bought seeds again this year, knowing even as I did so that last year’s didn’t work all that well. Actually, my cosmos and zinnias did – I sowed them directly into the beds. I’m going to try again with radishes. I was unable to resist picking up 2 Romaine plants. 🙂 I really need a “support group” but I want the one that tells me what I’m doing is natural and healthy, not the one that tries to help me quit.

Obligatory cat photo. 🙂 You can actually see her little face for a change because of the sun!

You Know You’re Getting Old When

instead of just balancing on the rim of the tub in your socks to change the shower curtain you put a step-stool IN the tub and use that. 🙂

Or is that “getting wiser”?

A Minor Disagreement

My meetings started at 8:30 am this morning – scheduled to go until 2pm. I managed to get my phone out from under BC, but at 8:30 we were still disputing to WHOM the keyboard belongs. Sigh. By 9am thank goodness she decided she didn’t want it anyway. WC, however, made sure that the 9am call knew that she was being starved. 🙂


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