Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Bounty

A lot of my focus of late has been on food and drink. What with harvesting, preserving and preparing food, and a little bit of weeding and watering thrown in (J has been doing most of that), it's taken a good portion of my time. Oh, but let me tell you about the rewards! While J was in PA last week for his job, I spied these. Every year for his birthday, he requests a German Chocolate cake, so I decided to make these to greet him when he got home. Thumbs up there.

We were having a family gathering on Sunday, with a forecast of 98. I've got lots of Kentucky Colonel mint, & decided this mint ice cream would be just the thing. We got requests to take the leftovers home. I did not add any of the optional chocolate, but did add a splash of peppermint extract, about 1 tsp in a 3 gal. batch. With this same mint, I've been making cold mint tea. I put a large bunch of mint in just-boiled water & let it steep for 10-15 mins, then throw in several sprigs of stevia for sweetening, for 5 or so more minutes. Easy-peasy, no-cal and free!

Last night, we had Backer's asparagus recipe here. I won't say it's my favorite asparagus recipe ever, but a good last of the harvest recipe when you've got both asparagus & basil in at the same time. Last week, I started a batch of apple cider vinegar, made by chopping up all the apples that have fallen, discarding any of the blemished bits, juicing them, adding some mother from last year's batch, and covering the crock with a kitchen towel, allowing it to breathe. As many of the apples were green, last year I added a little sugar and a handful of golden raisins to up the sugar content. I'm waiting to see, but will likely need to do the same this year. Yesterday, I began my first batch of pineapple vinegar. Who knew? I've been waiting for this pineapple to ripen, so I could try what I think of as Jill's juice. It was worth the wait! I've juiced quite a bit over the years, and this is my favorite so far. And so good for you. Well, that's probably enough to throw at you in one post. The thunder is rumbling. I think it's time to head outside and do a rain dance.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Coffee, Tea and Peace

The latest batch of Kitchen Thyme soap came out well. There's just a slight amount of free oil on the surface, but it didn't seize like all the previous batches. The culprit seems to be the thyme oil, as this time, I greatly decreased the amount, and tried some new essential oils. I made some mega-strong coffee for the liquid portion, but the coffee smell gets lost underneath the essential oils. It's a nice looking bar, and different from all the others, which I like. I'm a happy camper! I may think about changing its' name, though. Any thoughts?

Jennie's post yesterday reminded me of the upcoming Seagrove Potters for Peace. Last year, I was in the process of creating my green tea soap, and didn't have it in time for this event. This year, I plan to join in. Greg Mortenson's book, Three Cups of Tea, is a good read. And he's figured out how to make a difference in many lives. Hmmm, it just occurred to me that I can do something, not only locally, but on my etsy site. I'll donate online Green Tea Facial Bar profits to this as well. The thought of that makes me happy! Wishing you a happy day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Berry Good Walk

I love this time of year, when I can graze while I walk. The wild blackberries are ripening, so I grab a few here and there as I walk. It brings to mind sweet Hickory, who loved him some blackberries! He had been with me on many blackberry picking expeditions as a pup, and before long, figured out how to pick his own. He would find a nice ripe berry, and gingerly bite it off the vine. I'm sure he's not the only dog who has done that, but I thought it was pretty special.

There are some interesting mushrooms around. In some, I see faces. I think one looks a bit like a friendly dragon. And there are several hearts, including one which rather looks like a heart sandwich. I've done my outdoor chores, and intend to have an inside day, working on soap and papers, as the forecast is for 98. Summer is here!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

I hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day. My niece, Heather, had us all to her first home. It was her first family gathering there, and was delightful. She, her husband and father-in-law had done a lot of work. They're a good team.
Poor Joseph was stung by a wasp on Saturday, and it's really done a number on him. He never got to the point of needing his epi-pen, but his face is still very swollen, and he's taking lots of Benadryl, which makes it hard to stay awake. Originally, it was multiple yellow jacket bites that caused his first bad reaction. Now he's reacting pretty severely to wasps, which I understand is how it works once one becomes sensitized. I've been gently massaging his face to move some of the fluid. Needless to say, it wasn't his most stellar Father's Day.
It's going to be another hot week here, with temps in the mid-90's. Today, I'm going to tweak my Kitchen Thyme soap recipe, and see if I can come up with a batch that doesn't seize on me. Wish me luck! Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lily Bee

Today's the day! It's Raining Cats & Dogs at Circa Gallery. I dropped off soaps yesterday, and said hello to Fido, who Joseph made with this show in mind. The show coincides with Out & About on Sunset, which is always a good time. Many shops stay open, and there is usually live music, often in several venues. Some beer or wine and tidbits on a lovely summer's eve. Some pretties to look at. Add in some friends. Sounds like a good way to start the weekend to me! Have a good one, friends!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The House of Belonging

On my walk this morning, feelings were bubbling up. Feelings of gratitude..... of hope... I had an idea of what to post, but then remembered coming across this recently while going through my papers, and realized it pretty much sums it up.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love...

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

-David Whyte

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Blessing of the Waters

I received this today in an email, whose purpose it is to send love and healing to the Gulf. It is Dr. Masaru Emoto's prayer. If you are not aware of him, he is a researcher and humanitarian who has done amazing work with water, showing how words and intentions affect water. It seems appropriate that he may have some insight on how to help.

"I send the energy of love and gratitude to the water and all the living creatures in the Gulf and its surroundings.

To the whales, dolphins, pelicans, fish, shellfish, plankton, coral, algae and all living creatures...

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you."

Here is the prayer put to music on youtube. Wishing you a beautiful day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

An Inside Job

The latest forecast has us reaching 97 today. Whew! Luckily, I've been inspired recently to organize and declutter (here and here), so I'm thinking that it's an ideal day to keep doing just that. Today, and over the weekend, I've been tackling paperwork. I started with recipes. Gosh, there are so many good things to try, they just pile up! Now, it's on to mail, magazines and other assorted piles that seem to grow when I'm not looking. I expect with this heat, the pansies and violas will soon be gone, so I'm going to enjoy their cheerful faces while I can. Wishing you a cheery day, wherever you are!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Froggy Love

We've got the majority of our homestead chores done, and an old friend visiting us today. Wishing you a weekend of relaxing times with friends!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blooms and Summer Squash Bliss

On Sunday, J & I went to the Larkspur Party in Raleigh. It's an art show and plant sale in some lovely gardens. I came home with a few plants, including a dwarf pomegranate, and also one of Laura Avery's spirit houses. A friend turned me on to a new summer squash recipe, which I made last night. It's a keeper, and my favorite way to eat yellow squash to date. I expect we'll be eating this a lot this summer, from the looks of our squash plants. If you're an olive lover, you'll want to try this.

Yellow Squash/Zucchini with Kalamata Olives
4 medium squash (approx 1.5 lbs), sliced crosswise
1 tbs salt
3 tbs olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp oregano (I used a handful of fresh oregano)
black pepper
1/4 c kalamata olives (tip: the 2.25 oz can of Mario sliced kalamatas makes this easy)

Put squash in colander & sprinkle with the salt. Let drain over a bowl approx. 30 mins. Remove & pat dry. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion & cook until almost soft, approx. 3 mins. Increase heat to medium-high & add squash & lemon zest. Cook until golden brown, approx. 10 mins. Stir in lemon juice, oregano & kalamatas. Season with pepper.

I'd love it if you'd share some of your favorite summer squash recipes. Does anyone know the name of the red flowers? They were in a wildflower mix I spread last year.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Star Festival

It's feeling a lot like summer around here. We ate our first blackberries and zucchinis a few days ago. With the many warm and rainy days, mushrooms are popping up all over. I'll be setting up at the Star Festival today. Have a magical weekend, friends!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Bees Knees

I have a confession to make. I pet bees. Well, not honeybees. Just bumblebees. In fact, I pet this fine fellow here on my shed. Some years back, I read of someone who pet bumblebees, and it just intrigued me so, I had to try it myself. The key is to do it when they're cold and still, in the cool of the morning, or after it's cooled off in the evening. Sometimes, they'll move around a bit like a dog who's enjoying a scratch. I guess you could say I'm easily amused. Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Noticing, on a walk this evening:

The smell of mimosa flowers

The songs of the tree frogs

A swirl of clouds