Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thrift Shop Day

Saturday morning, my cousin, Dustin, picked up Andy and I for a thrift shop day.  Sort of like hitting garage sales, I suppose, except involving less driving and the ability to use credit cards.  We started the day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
(which might have something to do with that second pot of coffee, in all fairness....) and were at the first store shortly after it opened.  Thrift stores can be a great resource for all sorts of things, and we covered a lot of them.   We're all avid readers,
and I was delighted to find an inexpensive copy of the 1946 printing of The Joy of Cooking,
where I found a recipe for peanut butter and bacon canapes (toast rounds of bread on one side, spread the other side with peanut butter, then for inexplicable reasons, cover the peanut butter with thin strips of bacon and broil until bacon is crisp), which I suppose one might have served with a nice chilled sauerkraut cocktail (of  which there are two versions and both involve willingly drinking sauerkraut juice).  I shall try to remember that this was written for a nation that had suffered through 15 years of depression, war, and rationing....but I'm still not going to try such things.  I was also highly delighted to find this
which was written in 1933 and is a cookbook for Americans living in India, but has recipes for Chinese duck, Hawaiian chicken, brinjal, sauerbraten, as well as Boston baked beans, so I'm not exactly sure what the point of it is, and I hadn't known there were enough Americans living in India in the 1930s to justify an entire cookbook, but I did very much enjoy the chapter on how to hire male servants for my kitchen.  I'm sure Andy would be thrilled.  The other fun thing about this book is that the owner added to it,
recipes with the dates they were added, and even a few pressed plants in among the pages.  The added recipes date from 1942 to 1945, so maybe the book's owner was in India during WWII.

We also found a little cordial set and several little pots that will match a soup set a friend donated to Soup Night
and a vase,
though we opted to pass on this
a Scottie dog purse!  Unfortunately, if there were matching shoes at one point, they weren't there.  I would have LOVED to have seen them.

The most interesting find of the day, however, belongs to Dustin:
An antique pitchfork, handmade from one piece of wood that was split into the tines, and is from Hungary, I believe they said.  While this is a bit of an unusual item, Dustin and I both grew up on our grandparents' cattle ranch, and it's really a very cool relic of a very long tradition.  And it will scare the daylights out of the neighbors--BONUS!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

*  The optimism that makes me do things like canning two different types of salsa in the same day REALLY needs to be checked.

*  There is something immensely satisfying about throwing blossom-end-rotted tomatoes against the Fence From Hell

*  Trying to shoo the grasshopper that the cat is playing with back into the garage is a really big waste of time.  Squash the bug--the cat can find another one.

*  Garden problems come in quantities.  One doesn't just get slugs.  One gets slugs and fungus and grasshoppers and blossom end rot and aphids and moles and......

*  If the cookbook is too close to the stove, steam coming out from under the lid of the canner can REALLY wrinkle the pages.  This is best not discovered with a book from the library.....

*  It can now be 105 degrees one day, 69 degrees the next day, and NO ONE makes clothes for summers like this.

*  When borrowing movies from the library, a set of Doris Day movies and a modern British police drama about solving horrific murders is just too drastic of a contrast.  Borrow a third movie somewhere in the middle........

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why Is It......

...that as soon as I bought a computer from Dell, they started emailing me with hundreds of advertisements to buy a new computer.  Do most people actually buy them in sets or pairs?

...that when I have strained my elbow (yet again) and am trying hardest to NOT do anything to it, I am 10 times more likely to bonk it on the walls or door frames as I walk past them?

...that the more times someone posts about God or Jesus on Facebook, the more I doubt the strength of their religious beliefs?  Am I just a cynic, or was Shakespeare really on to something about human nature when he wrote, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks?"

...that the cat who freely snubs me most of the day regularly needs attention at 1:00 AM?

...that just when my flowerbed is looking great after several months of work, the cats have decided that it is the perfect nap spot, as opposed to the 4000 other options available?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trying To Change My Perspective

No matter how cute this song is, having a grasshopper jump onto my head while I'm picking tomatoes STILL makes me want to murder all 6-legged creatures........

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coming Up On 4 Years

Next month Andy & I will celebrate our 4-year wedding anniversary.  It REALLY doesn't seem possible that it has been 4 years already, but as they say, time flies when you're having fun. 

When we got married, we decided to do cologne/perfume as our wedding gifts for each other, and then to pick out a new cologne/perfume each year on our anniversaries.  I know a lot of people don't wear scent or wear only one scent EVER, but we've really had a good time with this. I wish we could get the same salesperson year after year, because it always takes us a while to explain to the salesclerks that we aren't looking to buy one that we already have--that seems to stump them.  Maybe the idea of only wearing one scent for one's entire life is more common than I thought, but eventually we get things straightened out. 

We're getting nice little collections.  This is me
The Guess perfume was for our wedding--and came with a watch for unknown reasons.  The plaid bottle is our first anniversary & came with a REALLY large bag, which is too big for a purse and I can only assume is meant to be luggage, which is always what I'm looking for in the perfume department.  The short one was second anniversary, and came with a purse and lots of samples of stuff I've never used, and the one on the right is a Mariah Carey perfume and came with nothing--I guess just the bond between Mariah Carey and myself is supposed to be enough.  I'm always amused by the "gifts" that come with scents.  Usually Andy gets some sort of shampoo, aftershave, deodorant combo-thing, and once in a while he gets little travel bottles, which seems much more reasonable than cheap luggage, though Andy has gotten at least one bag with his collection.  We have NO idea what he's supposed to do with it as there's a pretty big gap between "being comfortable enough with one's masculinity to wear cologne" and "being comfortable enough with one's masculinity to carry a purse."  But I am accumulating a really nice collection of bags for knitting, I must admit. 

This is Andy's collection so far (in order):
The first two I picked out by myself, but in the last 2 years we've started making a real outing of our scent shopping.  Technically, I think it's the only time either of us set foot in the mall all year as neither of us are big shoppers.  For our first anniversary, we didn't go together.  Before going shopping, Andy went through all my existing perfumes, making a list of what he liked & didn't like, then went to the store and had a long discussion with the salesclerk about women's perfumes and what types of scents are considered tropical, or romantic.  I, on the other hand, found a cologne insert in a magazine, thought it smelled great, and walked in to the store and said "I want this."  At least it wasn't "Mmmmm, smell good.  Me like," but it sort of felt like that once Andy described his process.  Since then we've gone shopping together as I'm just not sure I could live up to Andy Standards on my own.........


Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Garden

If you're wondering why I haven't been discussing the garden recently, it's because I've been MUCH too busy learning new things from the garden.  Such as

*  Some yellow spots & discoloration on squash leaves are due to fungus.  This can theoretically be cured by applications of fungicide, but it works better when it can be sprayed when it will be cool for several hours but not raining.....and can't be sprayed in the wind, such as the wind we get almost every single night.  I, however, should be fungus free for the rest of my life

*  Blossom end rot on tomatoes can be stopped by mixing 1 Tablespoon of epsom salts per gallon of water, but it would be a good idea to add it to ALL your tomatoes, in case your garden is one of the really perverse ones that will decide to get blossom end rot in a different tomato plant after you already caught it on another one.  (Edited later to add:  In spite of the fact that I found this listed in several places, it is completely untrue.)

*  The same bait can kill grasshoppers and slugs, THANK HEAVENS

*  The soap and water treatment for aphids doesn't kill anything else, but at least everything is really CLEAN later.

*  Buying ladybugs 2 months ago in an attempt to stop the garden from getting aphids was pretty much a waste, as almost all the lady bugs have relocated elsewhere by the time we got aphids.

*  The slug bait only works if the slugs stop eating my pepper plants long enough to go eat the slug bait

*  I believe that the fungicide we are using to kill off the 3000 different fungi that we have now because of the really wet June will also help prevent powdery mildew....which is just about the only thing we HAVEN'T had yet.

*  Grocery stores became popular for a reason..........

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

*  Cool weather doesn't just mean that it's finally possible to spray fungicide.  It also likely means rain.  Probably while or right after spraying said fungicide.

*  Taking a shower in the summer is a much more interesting event than it is in the winter.  In the winter it's harder to play "Guess what bug/soil/spray/twigs I'm covered in today?"

*  Even if the little clerk at the gardening store doesn't have the faintest idea what she's talking about, she'll talk with great certainty about what is wrong with your plant leaves.

*  I planted cucumbers and ended up with spaghetti squash.  I planted Hubbard squash and ended up with pumpkins.  Now I know why my family raised cattle for a living instead of vegetables:  You don't breed a cow and end up with a llama.

*  Either Theo can't actually tell what fresh catnip looks like when it's still on the plant or he prefers his catnip to be served by his human staff.

*   Finding that we still had one jar left of my vegetable salsa from last year totally made my day.  Either that's really good salsa or a really boring day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's War

It's a little easier to embrace nature when nature isn't kicking your ass in the garden.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Find!

Friday, I found this at a used book store:
A FUN Encyclopedia. 

What more can one ask for?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Busy Week

I have been waiting & waiting for this for months, but this week
I could finally make more of my favorite pickles.  It's a bit later than last  year, but then again last year one of my cucumber plants didn't turn out to be spaghetti squash.  I still have lots of the traditional dills from last year, so I won't be making any of those this year.  Just the ones from this recipe.  I love these so much I have been known to polish off half a pint at a time. 

The tomatoes continue to grow
and are now taller than me.  So far, however, this entire jungle has coughed up 1 Lemon Boy tomato and I think we're up to 8 cherry tomatoes now.  I could understand it while it was cool, but it's hot now.  REALLY hot
so frankly, I think we need to start seeing a few more tomatoes.  It's kind of a bad gardening year all the way around.  This is my zucchini
which might get around to a zucchini by the time it freezes, but at this rate it's actually on target for Christmas.

My fall garden starts are doing well
I have them out on the patio table.  They get morning sun, but shade the rest of the day.  I have lettuce & broccoli.

Our fall garden options got much more exciting this week, with the addition of this
Remember the neighbors with regular police visits?  It turns out they hadn't bought the house but were doing some sort of lease-to-purchase thing, and had stopped paying after just a few months.  So, facing eviction proceedings, one night last week they packed up a moving van in the middle of the night (which we were very much aware of as they were making all kinds of noise) and skipped town--stealing the owner's refrigerator as well.  They left this behind, and the owner of the house had moved it to the curb with a "free" sign on it....so we pounced.  It's a cheap Wal-Mart affair, but we're not too picky for "free."  SO, we'll be able to grow things year round!

And in January, we can discuss whether or not that is a Good Thing........

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...