Monday, May 31, 2010

Gardening, Grilling and Games

This could be the title for my summer, not just this post! We had perfect weather for Memorial Day and after three days in a row of going out for a mix of fun shopping and chore shopping, it was fantastic to be at home. On a day like today, it was very nice to be living on an island to experience the cool sea air and, often, that coastal, misty appearance of views, even just to the end of the backyard, but even more apparent looking beyond our perimeters.

Today, I mowed, planted flowers around the patio, clipped a hedge, watered, washed up the patio furnishings, rolled a vintage chaise out of the barn that is very comfy, but needs a wire brushing and new coat of metal paint. I think there were a few other tasks too, but I forget!

I want to get a few more geraniums and impatiens and maybe another hanging basket, but here's how it looks today. The herb bed is in the foreground.

I post a lot of flower pictures, but there are even more plants that I haven't uploaded pictures of! Probably 8-10 more flowering at the moment! Here are some flowers in the very wild butterfly garden. Knautia...


Here are some in the island bed including salvia and hardy geraniums.

Foxgloves and Jacob's ladder...

Since I've been taking all my pictures of the veggie garden facing west to show the peas best, I thought for once you'd like me to take some pictures facing more or less east! Here's one of flowers, zukes and yellow summer squash.

I will be planting in the plastic mulch this week.

And an overview shot taken in later in the day, early evening. You can see that despite all the flowers, I do keep a lot of yard open for the dogs to run in.

Once we did all our activities, we filled the new pool for the doggies and let them at it. They were SO excited at the first dip of the year. Saffy ran to the backyard at top speed. Look at this picture and you will see her back foot is actually ahead of her front foot! It's astonishing that her legs can keep up with that momentum! Her ears almost look like cat ears here (Lion cub Saffy!!).

Jeff threw the tennis ball for Silas countless times. Silas is very demanding about having the ball thrown a lot. His part shepherd breeding really shows in this shot.

He has a powerful launch and Saffy and I definitely tried to stay out of his way to avoid any collisions!

Every few laps Silas would settle into the water to cool down. He quickly made the pool water gray! He is shedding quite a lot now.

Saffy stands and twirls and bites at the water.

In the evening, we grilled up a flank steak to have with some asian cabbage slaw. Here is the 'grill master' at work.

We have our technique for getting from kitchen to patio all worked out from years of experience!

Jeff loves grilling 'mega fauna'. (The dogs and cat love it too because they get morsels.) I am planning to prep some ribs a couple times this summer so he can really go to town with the grilling and brushing on my homemade BBQ sauce.

Well, that's 'all' I took pictures of today! Hope you had a fun virtual visit with us!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

Jeff repaired our flag pole bracket and we hung the flag. I'm hoping the wrinkles settle out. It's been stored upright in a tall ceramic pot I use just for that purpose with the flag partly wrapped around the pole. Once I get the string through the flag grommets and through the hole on the pole correctly, I don't want to remove it from the pole which I would have to do to properly fold it.

In the garden, you can practically hear the peas growing.

They are already forming pods. It won't be much longer now!

This weekend, I've started drinking coffee again after 4+ months without. It was the allure of iced coffee that I couldn't resist. I can't believe how zippy I feel!! BuzzZZ!!!! Caffeine really works on me when I haven't had a daily infusion of it.

We've been shopping, grilling, gardening and relaxing for our holiday weekend and it's a wonderful, traditional start to summer. Hope your weekend is great too!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summer Style


I've been on a little seasonal shopping spree! Dogs and gardening can be especially hard on clothes and I needed to replace everything for my tees and jeans lifestyle this summer!

A big sun hat for yard work is a must...this one is from Tar-jay. The construction looks like a sturdy ribbon was sewn together in a spiral. I'll blend with all my bright flowers when I'm out in the yard!

I got all new tees from reliable old L. L. Bean in white, cream, black, clover and blue. (L. L. Bean photo)

And jeans from the Gap without trying them on first...eeekkk! But, success! I am so happy with them! I looked at similar ones last fall in the stores, but heading into cold weather, I didn't like the thin fabric. Now, however, it's just right. "Perfect Boot" and "Real Straight"...lengths for heels and flats. (Gap photo)

And shoes! I'm pretty easy to please with shoes. A couple of new pairs of flip-flops from Tar-jay.

I am eagerly waiting for a shipment with the following two pairs of shoes...stretchy topped sandals by Chinese Laundry ( photo)

and BCBG. ( photo) Hopefully the size and style of both will work out!

I got these sunglasses a month or so ago, but have been saving them for the official start of summer. They are blue tortoise, how fun is that? (Fossil photo)

Like a bower bird, I bonded with this sparkly, blue, summery necklace. Yay for Tar-jay! I've been wearing it every day since. (Target photo)

Home Decor

It seems like every summer, when I am enjoying the best fruit salad, I wish for pretty compotes to serve it in. I found some simple ones along with a matching server at Target. They are really quite pretty, but also seem like they will be durable, which is important in my kitchen! (Target photo)

I'll have to try making some puddings, fools and trifles too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Summer

The temps soared into the low 90's F today like someone flipped a switch. It feels more like July than May! The dogs just mosey around the yard, stand under the hose, drink a lot and spend most of the time napping. When they twitch, I wonder if they are dreaming of playing in the snow?

I'd forgotten about this video of them in the snow a couple of years ago, but I found it and uploaded it to youtube this week.

I have so much gardening I want to do, but I have to pace myself when it is this hot. Even watering, weeding and some transplanting seems like a major workout. My teatime treat to revive me has been an icy glass of Pimm's and ginger ale with some lemon and mint!

Yesterday, I tried to give the dining room a summery look as I tidied up. I put some glass net floats in the wire basket for a centerpiece. You can see one in the above picture. I always thought of them as Japanese net floats, but looking up their history online starting at Wikipedia, it turns out they were first made by the Norwegians. The two I have on the table actually are Norwegian, based on their markings.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Garden Update

Excuse the weeds! The peas are growing nicely and some are beginning to flower. The varieties have different lengths of time to harvest. The rows will ripen from right to left. I don't worry much about weeding the peas once they have a good start. They will be all picked by mid-late July and then the area will be tilled, obliterating the weeds.

I like to plant annual flowers for the color and to attract pollinators to the veggie garden. Sunday I planted out 22 zinnias, started in the cold frame. Half are a cactus flowered variety and half are California Giants.

And, I planted out 15 four o'clocks, one of my all-time favorite flowers, also started in the cold frame. They are the 'broken colors' variety.

They look quite lost out in the big garden, but hopefully will soon take off growing and provide lots of mid-late summer blooms. Ignore the burn pile in the foreground!

The latest blooms are so fragrant. There are lovely hesperis and lupines in the butterfly garden...

...along with these hardy geraniums.

A little patch of white daisies are blooming by the back door of the house.

I love these daisies in shades of pink!

The snow in summer is bright, glowing white at night. It is in a raised bed next to the patio with the lilies that will bloom later in the summer.

The weigala shrubs, another of my all-time favorite flowers, are blooming once again.

Also over the weekend, I planted out cucumber, yellow summer squash and cosmos seedlings that were started in the cold frame or just under clear plastic flat covers. They went into the black plastic mulch. I direct sowed seeds including sunflowers, pumpkins, gourds and squash. I intermixed them all. Hopefully they will come up densely and smother out weeds!

Next up, I have to direct sow the string bean seeds and some lettuces.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saffy and the R/C Truck

Saffy is quite curious and tends to treat anything she doesn't really understand like it's some kind of toy for her. When Silas is presented with something he doesn't understand, he usually acts a little spooked and then decides to ignore it like it simply doesn't exist (unless it's the laser pointer which he chases relentlessly!).

We've had this remote control truck for awhile and run it every so often to amuse Saffy. She 'rescues' her toys from it when we are in the house.

She gets some exercise chasing it around outside.

Bandit's reaction to the truck is to flop on his back in front of it! He's a weird cat!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saffy and the Carpet Sweeper

I was doing some rainy day cleaning this morning, vintage style. On a whim, I pulled my grandmother's "Bissell's Grand Rapids Bisco-matic" out of the pantry and started carpet sweeping the rugs instead of vacuuming. I guess I hadn't actually done this with the dogs in the house before. It really set them off and Saffy had A LOT to say about it!

Silas just barked, which was really loud on the video, so I cut that part out. After 'talking' to it for a bit, Saffy grabbed one of her toys and seemed to be trying to figure out how to play with the sweeper.

The sweeper dates from the late 1940's and in period ads from newspapers, visible online, it is shown as follows.

And this is the description and price.

My grandmother used it just about every day. It really does work! It even gets the dog hair up, so Saffy and Silas might have to get used to it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weather Set Back

We've had some rainy and/or cooler weather this week that's felt more like fall than spring. In fact, the weatherman specifically said it correlates to average temps for the first week of October. There was a frost warning for two nights and I actually brought 7 flats of tender seedlings like tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers (pictured below) and peppers into the kitchen to make sure I wouldn't lose them.

A lot of other plants I expected to be fine in the barn, cold frame or under the plastic flat covers like these yellow summer squash sprouts.

The only plants I couldn't do anything about were some zucchini and acorn squash already planted out. Although I have row cover fabric to protect from frost, I've never been able to use it because of the wind, so it sits in the barn! In the end, we didn't get frost, but I got more sleep being safe rather than sorry. All the gardening I've done lately is keeping plants safe. After the next rainstorm, I'll get back to work, including potting on more sprouts.

Just in time for the inside activities we bought the complete series of Life on Mars, the UK version. It was gripping and we had a few marathon viewings of it to see the entire thing. We saw the US version on TV last year and enjoyed it. Now we have it on dvd to watch again and compare to the UK version. So far, we think the original version is a bit better, though both are enjoyable. I am so anxious to see the UK spin off show, Ashes to Ashes, but have yet to find a release date for our region. I hope it's soon, they are already airing the third season in the UK!

When I haven't been immersed in Life on Mars, I've been reading a collection of short stories by Peter Robinson, called Not Safe After Dark. It's been out for years, but I got a used copy of it last week. I have a hard time setting it down, but am trying to stretch it out. His next book isn't out until August and I always have withdrawal when I finish his books!

There has been a little knitting on Ross, for Jeff. I am working on the sleeves. Sleeves do drag on, especially men's sleeves!

The front and back sections, shown folded above, have been done for ages! Jeff is excited about it, so that's motivation to keep working.

Of course, further motivation comes from wanting to try new projects! I got a copy of the Sublime book from my spring knitting pattern wish list, so I can start narrowing down my color choices for a pattern or two from that.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

For fun, I created a little collage of me and my mother and grandmothers, pretty close in age in the photos, though in a mix of formal and informal poses.

(Clockwise from top left: paternal grandmother, maternal grandmother, me, mother.)

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pink Delights

More lilacs are in full bloom around the house. There are still white ones too, but I posted a pic of them the other day, so I thought I'd share the pink/purple ones today. This one came with the property and has a large trunk, so it might be quite old.

This is a doubled variety that I planted by the porch. If you click to enlarge the pictures you can see all the extra petals compared to the first one. It never seems to grow much and I wish it would put up more new shoots and grow taller!

This candy cane phlox is very pretty. Unfortunately, some weeds are trying to invade it, including another ground cover type flower that self sows everywhere. It's hard to weed as it's a little sharp to reach into.

Since there is such a pink theme to the flower pics tonight, I thought it would be fun to share something pink I make in the kitchen. I've been making this smoothie for over 12 years now and never get tired of it. It's especially refreshing in summertime. It's something I improvised, so the 'recipe' is just a rough guide. You really can't go wrong!

I make it in the two cup Cuisinart Immersion Blender cup, though I used to make it in my food processor before I got the stick blender. A regular blender would work too, but I always thought it was more of a pain to clean up after.


About 1 1/4 cups of frozen strawberries
About 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

Microwave for 1 minute to soften slightly, the fruit will shrink down a bit leaving more room, but will still be icy enough to make a freezy, cold smoothie

Add orange juice just to the level of the frozen fruit

Fill the rest of the cup with plain, non-fat yogurt, leaving room for blending, of course!

Blend 'til smooth and drink!

One could add supplements to it, but I don't. I do find it makes horse pill sized vitamins go down easily though!

Saffy and Silas enjoy this recipe as they sometimes get a frozen strawberry each. Also, every time I use up a yogurt container, they get to clean it out. The plain yogurt comes in large cups that conveniently fit a whole dog muzzle!