Determined Friends

I should have taken pics of the food table (right) and bar (left)

Well, we DID it. We had a small dinner party outside on the deck as the temperatures dropped into the 20s. 🙂 Thank goodness it started in the 40s. I am determined to see friends despite Covid and apparently my friends are also determined to brave the elements for the same purpose. I chose the invitees very carefully. It’s no longer only a matter of being my friends and thinking about who would get along with whom, now I need to think about how my friends “pod”, how they maintain social distancing, their parameters for maintaining health. So while I would have enjoyed having a BIG party, I think those days are still somewhere in the future.

setting up

I sent a lot of emails out beforehand explaining how I “pandemic”, and my plans for the dinner, and how I planned to structure the setting. Then the day of the dinner I sent yet another, offering Due Diligence on how we’d spent the last 5 days. My husband and I put up 2 canopy tents on December 28, four days before the planned Jan 1 date. The point of the canopies was twofold: shelter us from the forecast drizzle/mist and to trap heat from the propane heaters. You’d think I’d have learned about flimsy canopies and rain from last year’s Rosh Hashanah debacle with canopies. The canopies went up Tuesday, crashed in the rain on Wednesday, were restructured and braced on Thursday. Friday we changed the date from the 1st to the 2nd because the weather was not going to be good. Saturday we foolishly grilled our dinner. Why “foolishly”? Because the grill and one of the chairs were supporting the legs of the canopy that had already broken in the first rain. Saturday night that canopy collapsed again. Sigh.

the fan was there to dry the deck – it rained A LOT Saturday night

Sunday morning I got up early and began MY food preparation (we time who gets the kitchen when, when various dishes need the oven). I baked sugar-free gluten-free tahini chocolate chip cookies, rolled out the gluten-free crust for the quiche, and baked gluten-full bread. Then I started on all the non-food preparations (cleaning the kitchen & breakfast room, bringing up all the plastic and paper goods from the basement, etc.). When my husband woke we went out and took down the broken canopy and rearranged the remaining canopy. Then I began ‘fixing’ the deck. I had to rearrange the propane heaters, dry off the deck (hence the fan in the photo), put up an umbrella that had been put away for the winter (replacing the canopy), set up the serving table, hang the LED light curtain, hanging additional lighting, bring up folding chairs… you get the idea. Guests were invited for 6:30. At 6:00 there was a light sprinkle of rain. I thought – I can’t care anymore. If it rains, we’ll go inside, open every window and put in fans. Luckily the rain didn’t even last 5 minutes. Whew!!!!

coats, hats, blankets, and 3 people without coats

My friends all arrived, wearing their winter coats, bearing blankets, bearing food and most of all – in upbeat cheerful spirits, determined to enjoy and have good time. 🙂 For the most part we were all comfortable. As you can see some of us did NOT even wear coats (yay for all the heat that was indeed contained by the canopy/umbrella) and some were bundled up with hats and blankets. I was not wearing a coat which I find amazing, since I am usually cold. Maybe because I never really get to sit still when I’m a hostess – always moving to make sure things are as they should be. We had a wonderful wonderful evening. When everyone left by 11pm, I was outside til nearly 1am, covering up the furniture & heaters & fire pit in anticipation of the forecast “surprise snow storm”. Yeah, never happened but oh well at least my deck is all prepared for if we ever DO have snow. 🙂

don’t you love the pyramid heater???

Monday was all about cleaning up the INSIDE from the Ahuva-tornado that swept thru on Sunday preparing for the party. I had a few moments of existential despair on Sunday which caused me to open storage boxes and strew contents all over the basement floor, break the light at the foot of the basement stairs, and shove everything out of the way into my dining room. 🙂 There was a lot of cleaning necessary. Today dawned bright and sunny – FINALLY!!!!!! Hallelujah!!! – and COLD – 18 degrees F. Nonetheless, I am back in my groove, getting up to do my morning walk (bundled up like Charlie Brown) and now here sipping coffee, ready to return to work (okay, maybe not the latter). I look at these photos and feel so grateful for my friends who are determined to keep relationships going, no matter the weather.

ready for winter. and yeah, i did most of that at midnight in 20 F degree temps. brrr.

Ring in the New Year

frozen moment of the fireworks “raining” down in front of the hotel (do watch the live version below!)

And oh PLEASE let 2022 be MUCH better than the last 2 years!

You know by now that I fall into the “extrovert” category. As annoying as people can be, I neeeeeeeed them. 🙂 I love the excitement and energy of New York City. I love parties. I love meeting new people and talking to them. Okay – that last might need a few parameters but it’s essentially true. Covid has cramped my style greatly. Don’t misunderstand – I am EXTREMELY grateful that to date that is ALL it has done to me personally. My family and I are vaccinated, booster’d and wear masks when in public locations. We’ve been eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, being in the NYC holiday excitement. But even I am cautious about throwing a party at my home.

I got brave and decided to have a small dinner party to start the new year. I invited 8 others to join us for dinner on January 2, outside, with propane heaters, and canopies to shield us from the possible rain. (Okay – originally Jan 1 but the weather looked so bad that I moved it to Jan 2.) But if we are outside, we’ll be wearing coats and warm clothes. *I* wanted to GLITTER and SPARKLE. I decided my husband and I would go out for dinner on NYE so I could have someone else do the meal prep & serving & cleanup and *I* could SPARKLE. We made plans for an “earlyish” seating – 8:45pm (earliest I could get by the time I decided to do this) – even though *I* thought we should go for a much later seating so we’d still be in town when they set off the fireworks outside the restaurant at midnight. My husband nixed that but promised he’d stay awake to get in the car and drive to some point where we could see those fireworks. 🙂 I know he thought we’d both be asleep so it was a safe promise. So we were booked for dinner at 8:45pm at Catherine Lombardi in New Brunswick.

gotta glitter everywhere even if i haven’t had a mani/pedi in forever

Well. The best laid plans, right? In this case, however, the plan for fun was EXCEEDED. I dressed up – spent a good hour trying to put together the correct pants and footwear and necklace for my new glitter – oops – GLITTER – top. I felt pretty confident I’d nailed it. 🙂 I even wore makeup (no, the image below is NOT how I did my makeup). 🙂 We got to the restaurant and were seated, right on time. The tables were spaced very well, the wait-staff wore masks. We were at a table for 2 with only one table to our right (no tables directly to the other sides). We ordered cocktails (oh what a GREAT cocktail I had!!!) and as we were doing that the table to our right was seated – a family of 4. Two men in the chairs facing my wall, 2 women on my wall also. We all glanced at each other but kept on with our lives.

No, I don’t know why I don’t publish my RL face in this blog.

A few minutes later, after our cocktails had arrived, the man closest to my husband leaned over and tapped my husband’s shoulder. I, despite my hearing aids, could not hear what they were saying over all the ambient noise. I should have known. *I* am the one who is still living in the same town where she was born and bred decades ago. My husband is the one who knows people anywhere we go. 🙂 The gentleman and my husband had worked together on a construction job. My husband is a structural engineer, Paul is the owner of a construction company specializing in concrete structures, my husband’s personal favorite material. Those of you who know us both will not be at all surprised that from that point on the 2 of them exchanged a few comments, I ended up exchanging compliments and small talk with the women. Just before our dinners arrived, a table to our other side finished their meal and stood up to go. I was astounded when 2 of them came over to us. OMG!!! It was our neighbor Suzanne and her son Michael, who grew up with our son!!! It was great to see them, and hear what was happening. I took a photo to send to my son. Even funnier in the “isn’t it a small world” sense is that Michael lives outside of Knoxville, TN, which is where a good part of my husband’s family lives now as well. It was so lovely and wonderful to see the 2 of them! And I’ve made a resolution to get together with Suzanne one day soon.

We sat back down for our dinner, noticed that Paul’s table had been served as well. We ate our dinners and enjoyed the festive atmosphere and good food and service. Then we were all done with our main courses. In another day and age, the men would have repaired for cigars and brandy and the women off to to their chitchat elsewhere. In this day and age, my husband and the other man started talking construction, totally oblivious to the rest of us. 🙂 It was now around 10:30pm, and they were having a wonderful time chatting. I started plotting.

I excused myself ostensibly to use the rest room. I found one of the managers and asked if the table next to us had been drinking alcoholic beverages. Upon learning that they had, I ordered a round of champagne for the 6 of us. 🙂 I went back and sat down, but slid over the bench (the women’s side of the setup was one long upholstered bench) to join the women and 3rd man in conversation. 🙂 Our champagne arrived and we had to forcibly interrupt my husband and Paul to participate in the toast. 🙂 I learned that Paul had apparently also paid for a round of OUR drinks. Great minds think alike! As you might have guessed by now, we were all still there talking and enjoying when the management gave everyone the 20 minute warning for getting drinks and heading outside for the fireworks. 🙂 I took my champagne glass and we all headed outside to the street. As long as we stayed within the little fences we could bring our drinks with us.

oh just watch the video. 🙂

The weather was cooperating, it was warm, not raining. We had a countdown to midnight, and then the fireworks began! They were a lot of fun and not what I’d expected. They were shot off from the hotel roof across the street. There was music playing through a sound system. Loads of people cheering and laughing. Even so – we were not crowded into anyone else. When the fireworks were done we were still fairly near the other family. We walked over and hugged happy new year. Paul’s wife suggested that we should get together for dinner together some time (they live in the next county). I said that I would LOVE that! I’d just been remarking to someone recently about how does one make new friends at this age if you are not going in to work??? I guess go out to dinner!!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy new year to come, filled with peace and joy. And food and friends and fun and fireworks!

Advent Cocktails

I have never in my life had an Advent Calendar. To be quite honest, I know nothing about such calendars except that people get them before Christmas and count down the days to the holiday. I gather that these days they can run the spectrum from simple home-made items to ridiculously over-priced indulgences dispensing extravagant gifts. Not my holiday, not my time table. BUT… Never say never, right?

My friend Ann and I were spending time together and we were discussing everything under the sun, including dining out and cocktails. She mentioned that her favorite restaurant was selling an Advent Cocktail calendar. (Or should that have been a Cocktail Advent calendar? What is the correct word order here????) I thought it sounded like a fun thing to do.

We had dinner together this weekend (we let our husbands come along as well) and the dinner was delicious. Recommending Tapestre restaurant for anyone in central NJ. The dinner was great, the company even better, and the cocktails I imbibed were delicious. Ann checked to see if she could maybe get her Advent Cocktails while we were there, but the answer was negative. *I* asked if I could still order one and the answer was POSITIVE!!! Reader, I ordered one. 🙂

Not only did Ann steer me right about the restaurant, and the calendar, she also picked up MY box when she got her!! Look at how PRETTY it is!!!!

Some of these cocktails look a bit dubious, and some look like they will be fantastic. I told my husband he has to do this cocktail count-down with me. Each little bottle should make 2 cocktails on-the-rocks. We should be starting tonight. I’m not sure I’m in a cocktail mood yet today. I wonder if we could make our own calendar for these drinks. 🙂 Maybe space them out and count down to New Years. Or count down to the last of the cocktails! I don’t know what the final day will be, but we are going to have fun getting there!

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.

Let’s Talk About Food

table ready and waiting!

Food. Cats. Plants. The Weather. I think those are all still safe topics these days, although I do have a (completely misguided) coworker who would disagree about cats. His loss. BC often joins our video calls. 🙂 We like him anyway. Food – my family is most definitely a FOOD family. All the men enjoy cooking, with at least 2 of them into baking as well. You know I enjoy cooking and baking. Now that I stop to think about it, I’m not sure about the other females. They are absolutely fine cooks, I’m not sure if it’s something they “enjoy”. Funny how you can be so close to someone and still not know something that important.

slicing the rib roast

In our family our winter holidays are Chanukah and my husband’s birthday. Obviously these days we are not dining out very much but even so I was surprised when a friend asked me what *I* was doing for the birthday dinner. Moi? Excuse me but in OUR family it’s the MEN who cook the birthday dinners. My husband knew exactly what he wanted – a standing rib roast and potatoes au gratin – French style. He’s taken great pains to teach us that “au gratin” does NOT mean “with cheese”. It derives from the French for “scrapings” and is used typically to mean covered with crumbs (OR cheese). When HE makes the potatoes au gratin, it means that the potatoes have been drowned in butter and then baked. 🙂 Unbelievably delicious.

look at the garlic!!!! yum!

The problem with our meal arises with cooking the beef. My sister and brother-in-law like the meat to be moo’ing when we bring it to the table. While I don’t like my meat well-done, and I do like beef carpaccio, the rare ribs in these pictures are too rare for me. Not a problem because I can always toss mine in the microwave if necessary or, as in this case, have my slices cut from the ends of the roast. You can see the end, covered in garlic. Oh my – nirvana. 🙂 The beef just melted. My apologies to the vegetarians reading this. I don’t eat meat very often so when I do I really enjoy it. I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but each rib must have been nearly 2 inches thick. Four ribs. Only 3 fit on the platter. 🙂 Each couple ended up splitting a rib (and not finishing it) so we all had wonderful leftovers as well.

Can we eat NOW?

My brother-in-law asked what kind of bread my husband wanted for the meal, and of course the answer was salt sticks. 🙂 My contribution was the steamed vegetables and the dessert. I knew my sister and I would be tempted to keep picking at the meat & potatoes, so I tried to distract us with 2 bowls of vegetables. One had only cabbage (we all like cabbage) and the other had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and brussels sprouts. They may have deterred us a trifle but seriously, given the options, which would YOU have picked at??? Not to mention the salt sticks. 🙂 For dessert I made a cranberry/orange/apple cake. A friend wrinkled up her nose like “that’s a birthday cake????”. In our family, yes, we always have at least one sugar-free dessert for the menfolk. I gave my husband a choice of different fruit pies, tarts and cakes and that was the winner. I still had some sugar-free espresso ice cream which tasted great on top. Keeping in the birthday spirit we added whipped cream as well.

Very tasty loaf cake – moistness from the apples and juice

Now one of us doesn’t eat fruit. In anticipation of these meals where 3 of us would happily eat apples & cranberries & oranges, I sliced the chocolate pecan pie into individual servings and froze them back on Thanksgiving. SHE had the pie. 🙂

chocolate pecan pie

She’s Singing My Song

My sister sent me this link today about Holiday Dinner Planning. Of course it applies to ANY dinner planning these days. I’ve written before about the challenges I face trying to invite my long-time group of friends to dinner. And that is WITHOUT the person who can’t eat nightshades (which I only learned to my dismay at my Come See My New Kitchen party). My husband pointed out that they also forgot to mention the people who bring their own food without having mentioned it or cleared it with the hostess first. 🙂 I believe that I’ve also mentioned that showing up with unexpected entrees that you expect to be served at that meal is actually a bit rude. Aren’t you glad you aren’t invited to my house for dinner? SO many rules!!! But enjoy the song because, oh my goodness, it’s right on the nose! (Of course at THIS point in the pandemic, I’d be DELIGHTED to be throwing a party no matter WHAT food challenges I face.)

Sugar-free Pistachio Ice Cream

Your pistachio ice cream, dear!

Pistachio is definitely NOT my flavor choice for ice cream. Many, many years ago my husband told me that his FAVORITE ice cream flavor WAS pistachio. It’s hard enough finding sugar-free ice cream, but trying to find interesting sugar-free flavors is darn near impossible. The most exotic flavor I have found is butter pecan. Otherwise it’s vanilla. Or occasionally vanilla/chocolate/strawberry. Several years ago I attempted to make pistachio ice cream using a short-cut recipe I found online. What I created was a solid block of pistachio ice. I shelved the project until I might have an ice cream maker.

First step – adding the whipped cream to the sweetened condensed milk and flavoring

Ever since I discovered Tagatesse, I have been trying new recipes and taking old favorites and seeing how they would work with Tagatesse instead of sugar. [ Reminder: Tagatesse uses tagatose, and can be substituted 1-for-1 for sugar. At the moment the major problem is that it is costing me around $40 for a 1 lb. box. Ah, the things we do for love. ] I don’t remember what article I saw that made me think maybe it was time to try again to make pistachio sugar free ice cream.

Adding in some nuts

I found MANY sites that discussed making ice cream without an ice cream maker, and using only 3 or 4 ingredients. That’s my kind of recipe!! I ended up checking several sites, and all called for at least these 3 ingredients: heavy whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Easy, peasy, except for the amount of sugar in sweetened condensed milk. That sent me on a search to see if I could make my own sweetened condensed milk using Tagatesse. Of course, since we know EVERYTHING is on the internet, I found one. It was simple, I had the ingredients, and the only downside was the need to stir it for 30 minutes as it cooked. I made the condensed milk using the Tagatesse and let it cool.

Ready to head to the freezer

The next day I attempted the ice cream. I’d ordered pistachio flavored extract online. I tried to pick the one that looked the ‘best’ and substituted it for most of the vanilla. I also bought pistachio nuts and ground up several of them to add to the ice cream and to sprinkle on top. I mixed everything together and then waited the requisite hours.

I served a portion to my husband. The verdict: A+ for taste, A+ for color & texture, C for sweetness. He thought it was way too sweet. Sigh. I gave the rest to my brother-in-law, who has more of a sweet tooth than my husband. His verdict: A+ for texture & color, A+ for sweetness, C for flavor. He said it tasted like almonds. I swore to him that there were no almonds. He went and did research and discovered that the vast majority of pistachio flavorings were almond based. According to the ingredients on the extract I used, it claims to have only pistachios, no almonds. What is a simple pistachio ice cream maker to do? Make less-sweet pistachio ice cream for my husband and make coffee ice cream for my brother-in-law. Problem solved. 🙂

Ready to be scooped!

La La La La La

tall canna lily front garden

Isn’t that what you say when you cover your ears so you can’t hear what someone is saying to you? La la la la la la la. I do NOT have the energy today to deal with macro issues: return to school? presidential election? senatorial elections? college football? eating out? La la la la la la.

1st mushroom sighting
The first sighting of the mushrooms. They look harmless, don’t they?

Unfortunately for me, my little micro concerns were also difficult this week. Sigh. So no cat pictures today – still a little bit too sad about GC for that. Which leaves me only the garden and yard for an escape. Oh – and food. There is always food, right?

crustless quiche
crustless vegetable quiche

Let’s do food first. My husband has been cooking. His new obsession is making pot stickers from scratch. I can assure that yes, you CAN get bored with eating pot stickers. The last two times he suggested it I vetoed the idea. That got me homemade pasta with sauce (oh yum yum yum) and a delicious flatbread pizza. I also got a crustless quiche. You can tell from the photo that he LOVES cooking tomatoes. I’m not as fond of cooked tomatoes as he is but at the moment they are still preferred over yet more pot stickers. The night he made the pasta he made a tandori sauce to go on it. Out of this world delicious. Remember Snuffles, the treat loving dog from Quick Draw McGraw? That describes the 4 of us having dinner. My brother-in-law is usually the bread baker, as I’ve told you. His breads are beyond compare. He was busy all day, however, so baking the challah fell to me. It was good, but it convinced me to get myself a bread thermometer. I worried about it being under-baked so I gave it more time than I thought it probably needed. I’d rather have it that way, even though over-baking means leftovers dry out faster.

Ahuva's challah
That is a 5-strand braided challah. Haven’t done one in years and so my strands were not as evenly thick at the end of the braiding.

The local news reported today that July was the hottest month on record for New Jersey. As everyone commented – tell us something we DIDN’T know. When I was a young lass, maybe all the way up to my 30s, NJ summers were my favorite weather. Hazy hot & humid did not faze me. Now that I am older, I have more empathy for those who complain about NJ summers. The humidity wipes me out. I learned in Arizona that temperatures above 100 are probably more heat than I enjoy, but I can go up into the 90s and have no problem if it is dry. I finally understand the phrase “it’s not the heat it’s the humidity”. Yes, it’s the humidity. And the dratted no-see-ums that are eating me alive every time I water the plants. My legs are covered with scratched bites and scabs. My legs look like the legs of a grade schooler (if there were still such a thing as grade school – oh wait – do NOT go there). My wonderful husband heard me moaning every night after watering the plants and bought me mosquito netting pants!!!! They do work! The problem, I think, for me is that I sweat so heavily from the humidity, that it is still attracting them through the pants. The number of bites is greatly reduced but I still got bitten the other night. I think I’ll try spraying the pants with insect repellent and see if that makes any difference. I could try to get up early when there are fewer bugs about but mostly I get up that early to make sandwiches.

mosquito netting pants
You may laugh but everyone who has seen them or heard me talk about them has asked where they can get them (search on mosquito netting pants)

I came home from making sandwiches yesterday and went to pull into my driveway. And I stopped. There was a man from the utility company walking out of my driveway and 5 orange cones IN my driveway. I rolled down my window and looked at him, and asked “What are you doing?” He explained that he had cleared it with the man in the house (*grin* I said – my husband, he said – I didn’t want to presume, I said – wise approach these days). The apron of the driveway was damaged when we got the new gas and electric to the house back in February or whenever it was. They are finally getting around to repairing it. He said we couldn’t drive on it for 3 or 4 days. That means no convertible – it is in the garage. Too bad, because the temperatures are only supposed to be in the 80s for the rest of this week. Of course, the humidity is also supposed to be in the 80s. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
driveway before and after

Last year I mentioned that I should plant lots and lots of canna lilies because the butterflies seemed to really enjoy them. I have only seen 2 butterflies this year so far. I showed you the monarch butterfly on the butterfly weed. There has also been a black swallowtail I’ve seen periodically. The swallowtail seems to check out everything but the things I planted specifically to make butterflies happy. It seems to really like the echinacea. I saw it today checking out the herbs, tomatoes and superbells, but it flitted away before landing anywhere. Camera-shy I guess.

black swallowtail butterfly on echinacea
Black swallowtail butterfly

I planted 2 gardenias this year – one in a hanging pot and one in a pot along the front walk. I believe that the one in the hanging pot was burned out by the hot weather, after managing to produce 2 flowers in the late spring. The one along the walk has produced one full bloom. It does smell heavenly.

gardenia
Gardenia

Not only has it been humid, we’ve gotten a lot of rain. The fun part is when it rains in the evening so I don’t have to brave the no-see-ums and can skip watering the plants. Apparently it has been even wetter than I realized. This week my neighbor’s lawn has sprouted mushrooms. Every day they have gotten larger and larger. There must be a good story to write there but at the moment I only have the illustrations. 🙂 If they get much larger they are going to cross the line from impressive to creepy.

mushrooms day 2
okay, a little wider, but still not too creepy

Then of course there are the canna lilies. The “rescued” cannas have been thriving in the pots along the walk. FINALLY one of the ones I planted has begun to bloom. I get very impatient in the spring. Even knowing things will grow, I don’t want a lot of empty space that needs weeding and looks neglected. I cram way too many plants into one area. I have this gorgeous stupendously tall canna right smack in the middle of the lawn garden. Beautiful. BUT – crammed in that spot are 2 Rose Mallows, perennials that are in the hibiscus family. One of them was doing quite well before the canna began shooting up. The other is nestled under a canna leaf. When I can brave the biting-bug-filled lawn to go there, I rearrange it to be in front of the leaf. But somehow it always resets to under and behind. I hope it is sufficiently rooted to survive.

Mushrooms day 3
There are actually 5 of these things in the yard. These 2 are about 6 inches across at a minimum.

I like so many flowers, and I’ve now got so many perennials. I want MORE rudbeckia laciniata hortensia, but I’m not sure where I can put them. I will have to pull out the firecrackers or chop down the variegated grass. Or pull out the rudbeckia laciniata (single bloom rudbeckia). That might work, except I also have the goose neck flowers there and I added the swamp milkweed as well. Sigh. Maybe I should put a border garden along the walk? That gets lots of sun.

rudbeckia after the rain
Rudbeckia laciniata hortensia after the rain. do you see the HUGE mushrooms?

Whatever it is that snuck into my planters now has flowers. I can’t wait to see what I’m growing. I thought that purple-edged leaf vine was a sweet pea vine – that’s what I was calling it in my head. But it’s not, according to my search. According to my search I have no idea what it is, other than beautiful. I also have no idea what to tell the lad who cuts my grass. I’m tired of moving pots and putting them back. I think I’ll tell him to just ignore the grass under the vines. *laughing* There isn’t really any grass, is there? My lawn is really nothing but weeds. 🙂
vines in the grass

tall canna lily and rose mallow
Rose mallow, canna lilies and dahlias

I Grew A Salad

romaine lettuce before picking
Ready to harvest

My romaine lettuce did GREAT!!!! It was large enough and healthy enough that I could make a salad without having to add lettuce from the store. 🙂 I had 3 radishes that COULD have gone into the salad but we ate them. 🙂 I have a lot to learn still about growing vegetables. I crowd them, and mix mismatched sun-types in the same pot. It’s very encouraging, however, when I actually get it right and end up with viable produce! The lettuce appeared to be very happy in a pot of its own, hanging off the porch railing. I’ll plant another!

radishes and lettuce fresh from the garden
My harvest!

The celery isn’t quite ready but you can see that it IS looking very celery. The fun thing about celery is that it grows above ground so I can track the progress. With my radishes I sort of poke around in the dirt if they are not showing through. And yes – I do see that little weed in there that needs to be pulled

it's almost celery
Almost ‘real’ celery

I’ll need to grow more lettuce so that I can make another salad, this time with the grape tomatoes!

grape tomatoes on the vine
grape tomatoes on the vine