Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My favorite store: the quarry

Best shop in town! I drive onto the scale with my car on the way in and wait for the guy to give me the thumbs up. I prowl the premises, load up with about 30 large rocks, drive back onto the scale and get a second thumbs up from the guy.

Total price: less than a brownie and frappucino. Rewards: creating a new raised bed! I honestly can't think of another store that I walk out of, receipt in hand, feeling so giddy from!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

GTTC, earthquakes, hurricanes

The sliders I made this week are topped with balsamic mustard and grilled onions. The jalapenos were simply grilled (on a wood skewer soaked in water first). It was a bittersweet evening as my husband kept calling it the "end of summer bbq" and I had to return to work full time the next day.

What "end of summer" (or other seasons for those of you far from North America) dishes are you making with your harvests? Post about it with a link to this blog, provide a link below and qualify for random periodic prizes!


Anyone on my coast experience the earthquake (and aftershock) this week? I really can't imagine what it would be like to experience earthquakes regularly - people say you get jaded pretty fast. Maybe it would be just annoying after a while to have to straighten out all the wall art, and sweep up any broken glass. For me though, it was pretty freaking scary. We had one about a year ago in the middle of the night - my first. I thought it felt pretty much like a low-flying helicopter hovering right above the house - of course, that's a pretty scary feeling too. I sort of knew what was really going on, and when I looked at my husband and asked, "Was that an earthquake?" the words were really surreal coming out of my mouth - it's something most people from the East Coast have never uttered before. But to tell you the truth, despite my typical calm facade, in my head, a voice was yelling, "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE"! Having never experienced an earthquake, my only frame of reference comes from disaster movies like 2012 where the ground opens up and swallows houses whole. The first inclination was to grab the poor kids sleeping innocently in their beds, but I was really in shock too... and then the rational side kicked in - ok, what are we supposed to do... get in a bathtub? go to the basement? run outside? I just couldn't remember anything I'd ever heard or read!!! But then before I even needed to reach a decision, it was all over.

Later, it's all anyone has to talk about. I think West Coasters must have sore eye sockets after so many eye-rolls about our East Coast earthquake excitement. In reality though, there are some very real dangers even for a small earthquake - gas lines breaking, traffic signals down, etc. And when we experienced our daytime earthquake last week and were all separated, I realized we were all probably fine, but I guess there was a maternal anxiousness that my kids (especially the 6 year old) would be scared. I think an earthquake is just so sudden, so unpredictable, so natural, and with all that - there is such a feeling of a loss of control. You just want all your family members safe and around you.

I certainly don't mean to compare our pitiful little earthquake to any true devastation that comes from more serious earthquakes and other natural disasters. It's just such a new and weird thing for us. And I do count myself lucky that this is something we don't normally experience.

Anyway, we were just coming down from all the exhilaration and all everyone's talking about now is Hurricane Irene. Geez, how do you prepare for this one? Get milk and toilet paper? Fill the tub with water? Are you supposed to stay away from windows - or is it that you're supposed to nail boards over your windows???

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vacation Photos

This year's selection of vaca photos are mostly blunders, funnies, and outtakes. For more serious posts, see this post on the 1500 year old Angel Oak, or this one with a few photos of the "low country" landscape and a story of Spanish moss, or this one with some pretty scenes from the island.

Above and below, some sights along the road. See the mailbox above?

Only in the past few years have I seen flocks of pelicans flying in formation over the ocean. It is an awesome sight. We also enjoyed watching them feed. Here you see the pelican flying above, then gliding and eyeing a fish below, then a quick downward dive, then a little snack while resting on the water, finally back up he goes until he eyes another one.

Below: woodpecker holes surrounding the circumference of each trunk and branch of the tree. Above: This photo was taken accidentally. I was getting the self-timer ready for a family photo, and I guess the fam would rather have been making their way to the beach. Believe it or not, the very next photo was Christmas card worthy - winning "cheeeeeese" smiles.

Below: a 10 pound coconut cake. To die for. We had cake for dessert after every meal for almost a week.

You'd never imagine that someone camera shy would choose photos of herself in a bathing suit to post - especially after having a steady stream of coconut cake all week. We played for hours trying to jump on this hyperinflated raft - doing cannonballs onto it, jumping in standing position on it...this is me doing a sloppy "flying squirrel". You should have seen the air that some others in my party got!

Hope your summer has been as relaxing and fun!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

GTTC: jalapeno corn pudding

I take back what I said about herbs being the only things growing. Something about jalapenos - they're so incredibly reliable and I can't get enough of them. Below, the corn looks like it's doing something. Not sure I'll get to try any of it, but it's an awful good show.

For this week's Garden to Table Challenge, I tried Bon Appetit's Jalapeno Corn Pudding. I think a dish like this is something you either really like or really don't. If you like bread pudding, corn bread, and Southwestern flavors, you'll love this. In it: fresh corn, roasted red peppers, onion, garlic, jalapeno, green onion, cilantro, cornmeal, eggs, and it's all topped with sharp cheddar. It was a deliciously savory, moist, gritty, slightly spicy, goes-with-any meal or serve by itself snack, and despite all the pungent vegetables and herbs, my children ate it up!

What's going on in your garden these days? I'd love to know how you're using your harvest! I've been hosting the occasional giveaway and all you need to do to earn an entry for the next prize I think up is to provide a link back to this blog in your post and link below!

I'm envious of those of you picking tomatoes every day. My tomatoes are so horrible, my husband told me that even the raccoons won't touch them. It's true. :( Meanwhile, my friend Grace is running a tomato juice operation - she can't get enough plastic bottles to fill and freeze. She is simply feeding her tomatoes through the food mill and cooking the juice down with onions, herbs, etc. Perfect to use in soups or to drink straight.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

GBBD - August 2011

So with the heat index, we had several days that hit 125 degrees this month! Not much is looking fresh and lively in my garden, especially when paired with a season's full of neglect. Here are some old reliables that manage to catch my attention and affection during these dog days of summer... To see a lot more, visit May Dreams Gardens!

This is a hosta with particularly large, gorgeous, and fragrant blooms lighting up the shady side of the garden.

Morning Glories - generally the bane of my existence, but they sure are pretty...

...see how they take over the roses (yes, there are supposed to be roses there) and the chain link fence? Not that either look especially attractive anyway... I have to tear out morning glory seedlings about twice a week all summer in order to keep things under control.. Obviously I have not done that this year.

Just some liriope and moonbean coreopsis - like I said, old reliables.

Echinacea looking really ratty, but the goldfinches don't mind.

One sole re-bloom from the clematis decorating the fescue below...

Gaura - still making it in this heat, but you have to get up pretty-early-in-the-morning to enjoy it. Literally. How is your garden faring?

Friday, August 12, 2011

GTTC: blue cheese chive butter (and giveaway winner announced)

Herbs are all I'm able to grow this season after my garden failures. However, it's not too much of a challenge to find ways to use them. For this week's Garden to Table Challenge, I served a blue cheese chive butter (among other treats) for my turn to host my book group.

Last week, I touched upon the virtues of using a muddler, the specialized bar tool used to make drinks such as mojitos. It's such a must have item that I bought one to share. Each link to the GTTC posts has earned an entry to this giveaway and the winner is... Diana from the blog Kebun Malay-Kadazan Girls. Diana, please send me an e-mail with your address! :)

Want to share what you're doing with your harvests? Include a link back here in your post, then come back and link below!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Like butterflies?

I've been working on my aversion to butterflies. This annual visit to the Wings of Fancy show at Brookside Gardens was actually not so bad!

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