Monday, June 29, 2009

Rain Dance

In Georgia, August is typically miserable - hot beyond belief and so dry that everything green turns brown and crunchy. It's not supposed to be that way in June!

It's literally 100 degrees in the shade. Something's gotta give!

By the way, this thermometer sits in a chair because I intend to get a different one to hang on the porch. I don't want to make a nail hole for something temporary.

I began thinking about rain. Our greatest chance for rain was Sunday - a 30% chance. I bought a rain gauge a while back and today decided to put it up. The phrase, "Build it and they will come" ran through my head. I translated that to, "Put out the rain gauge and it will rain".

I ended up putting it right on the front rail. That's pretty tacky, but my DH felt that was the spot for the most accurate measuring, and I rationalized that by placing it so prominently, surely the importance would be clear.

Then I went beyond tacky. I hung out laundry to dry right on the front porch. Everyone knows that if you wash your car or hang out laundry to dry, it will soon rain. As a side benefit, I got some laundry done and didn't have to turn on the dryer. I ended up doing 3 loads of laundry this afternoon. Everything dried on this rack. It's so hot and dry that each load dried amazingly fast.

So did it rain? No. The rain went just south of us. We saw some promising clouds, but not a drop fell. There's a 10% chance of rain today. Then the next 3 days - 0%. Then back up to 10%. I'll bet if local dance studios started offering classes in rain dancing, business would boom!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garden Bounty

Thanks to our wonderful garden, we are having some very tasty meals. There's extras, too, for canning and freezing.

The heat and lack of rain are tacking a bit of a toll. Thanks to the well, we can keep everything watered. We're using a sprinkler right now, but I wish we could figure out an easy way to use a soaker hose or some sort of drip irrigation.

The melons are starting to come in. They are babies now, but they'll be big soon! The okra pods are beginning to appear. Zinnias are starting to bloom. The zinnias are one of our companion plants.

The beans are needing picking every day. Four of us picked today. The basket Trisha is holding is just what she picked. There were 3 other baskets. Right now beans, squash and cucumbers are the biggest producers.

We've had some tomatoes - 5 or 6. The vines are full. It won't be long til we'll have basket-fulls. We have plenty of peppers, too - banana peppers, jalapeno, bell... Salsa anyone?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saying Goodbye to the Old House

We lived in the house on Adams for 22 years. I was thrilled when we moved in. The house was so pretty. The 2+ acre lot was wonderful. The area was quiet and peaceful. We had great neighbors, like Mr. Shaw, (pictured below) who came to see us today. Most of our original neighbors still live there.
Moving is sad, but I love our new house. It's time to say goodbye to the house on Adams. Debi, the sister of one of our neighbors wants to buy it, but first she must sell her current house. We really hope she gets it and if it's meant to be, she will! At this point, we can't wait any longer to put it on the market. We want whoever gets our house to love it. So the first step is to make it as attractive as possible. It's being painted inside and out.

The wood stove will be moved out and a gas fireplace put back in.
The cabinets are being repainted. They didn't look bad, but now they'll look great.

The master looks so clean and fresh.
It's a tough market, but I'm determined to stay positive. It will sell before October. The sooner the better. It's hard to start a new chapter when an old chapter is still open. I welcome all prayers and positive thoughts!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Outdoor Kitchen

It's hot outside! Hot-lanta is living up to its nickname. We kept the air conditioning off as long as we could stand it. Now that it's on, I don't want to do anything to cause it to run more than it has to and that includes cooking. There are lots of things to try in the summer to avoid heating up the kitchen. Salads and cold meals. Cooking early or late when the temps are cooler. Here's one that's new for us - an outdoor kitchen of sorts. Here are the details on our first venture.

First, trip out to the garden. It's lookin' good, isn't it?
Over to the squash & zucchini section. There's plenty ready for us.

Gather the ingredients - squash, zucchini, a Vidalia onion (which must be used at every meal accordingly to Georgia law), 1/4 cup of water, and a few pats of butter.

Put it all together in the crock pot.
Take it out to the outdoor kitchen, which is set up on our porch.
Now, I have made plenty of things in the crock pot, but never a vegetable dish like this. I have always cooked squash on the stove or in the oven in the form of a casserole. I suspected the crock pot would work fine and a search online confirmed it. I cooked it for 2 and a half hours on low and it turned out perfect - not too crunchy, not too mushy. I have a feeling our outdoor kitchen will get a lot of use this summer!

By the way, there is a marvelous blog on crock pot cooking - A Year of Slow Cooking.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ironing Out the Details

I now have 2 full-sized ironing boards. The newest one is about 30 years old. The newest one is from the 1940's. It's made of wood and is nice and sturdy. The other one wasn't rickety or anything - it just had no character. The vintage one belongs in my loft. I knew I would find one eventually. Actually I found two. The first was at a consignment shop in Newnan. It was nice, but it was priced around $70. That was definitely over my budget. I was content to wait. But I sure did keep thinking about it and picturing it in my ironing corner.

Surprisingly, I didn't have to wait long. I found my vintage ironing board in a little shop in downtown Senoia. I paid $27 for it.

An ironing board that wonderful just couldn't have an ordinary cover. I wanted a cover with some personality. I found my cover on Ebay. It's made by Hestia House. The seller is imadomesticgoddess. She has a number of fun prints to choose from. She also sells on Amazon and Etsy.

In the photo below, I moved the ironing board near a few other things in the loft to show how the colors play off each other. I'm still puzzled at how the fabric on the papasan doesn't photograph true to color. It is really much more vibrant than it looks in the photo.
The loft keeps getting better and better. I certainly am enjoying it and ironing, in particular, is much more exciting now.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mill Pond Gardens

Today Nancy (my sister-in-law) and I went garage-"sailing". We had no luck with that today. In fact, every time I go with Nancy, hoping to convince her of the virtues of garage sales, we have no luck. She thinks she might be a jinx. After seeing my recent finds, she swears to keep trying. I hope our next outing turns out to be wonderful.

We did see lots of interesting landscaping as we drove through neighborhoods. I've been looking at yards for a while trying to figure out exactly what to do around our house.

I snapped a picture of this one, but the photo didn't turn out well. The flowers around the tree were so much more showy than the photo conveys. We couldn't figure out what kind of flowers they were.

Gardenias were in bloom everywhere. At one garage sale house, they had a long row of tall, slim gardenias, used to create a border between homes. I'd never seen gardenias used quite like that. It was nice and the perfumed air around them was fantastic. Now, why didn't I take a picture of that?

On the way home, since bushes and flowers were on our mind, we made a stop by a favorite nursery - Mill Pond Gardens. This nursery is the most creative around. Walking around there feels like a walk into The Secret Garden. Again, I was shy with my camera and didn't take photos of the wooded areas, which are also amazing.

The owner had so many unusual pieces holding plants. There were lots of old, interesting pieces of furniture - chairs, especially. This piece really caught my eye. She said her husband had made it for her using scraps of this and that. He'd painted the whole thing sort of a robin's egg blue.

They don't have a web site, but if you are ever in Brooks, GA, stop by.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Black Widows

Last year we ran across two copperheads on our property. Now whenever I walk about on the property, I'm on alert for snakes. Thankfully, it's been ages since we've seen any signs of them.

Just as I'm about to relax, Rudy finds black widow spiders. Here she is along with a sack of eggs. These have all met their maker. Rudy and I hate to kill anything, but these spiders are almost always deadly to cats. We love, love, love our cats. They are our children.

Take a look at chubby little Cindy Lou lounging on the porch. How could anyone not adore her?

I browsed the web hoping to learn more about black widows and hopefully, find some safe ways to get rid of them. We don't use pesticides.

I learned black widows are nocturnal, preferring the cool and darkness to daylight. They come out at night to hang in their webs and feed. Turning on outdoor lights at night attracts bugs and these bugs are what widows like to eat. Keep the lights off at night or get yellow lights, which don't attract bugs.

Widows spend the day in dark places. They hide under boxes, cabinets, garbage cans, wood piles, rocks, outdoor furniture, water meters, etc. It's best to keep these things far away from your house.

You can identify the black widow's web if you look closely. They are small webs with a thick 'den' in the center usually very close to the ground. The female spiders will hide inside the den during the daytime, emerging at night to sit in the center of their webs. Once you see one, you will be able to identify them. Anyway, if you see this web, the spider is nearby.

Smash (don't spray) the spider. If you kill one, be absolutely sure to destroy the egg as well.

A number of things are recommended for getting rid of them. The most successful seems to be to go hunting for them at night with a flashlight. If you locate one, use a stick to squish it against the side of it's hiding place and then do your best to remove the hiding place altogether so no more take it's place.
The suggestion I plan to try is to attract more wrens to our yard. Wrens eat black widows. I plan to get a few wren houses this week! The houses are supposed to be put out by mid-March, so they may stay empty this year. Wrens are also wonderful for keeping pests at bay in your garden. For more information on attracting wrens to your yard, click here or here and definitely click here.

Other things were suggested like vinegar, eucalyptus and sticky fly paper traps.

This was the best advice site I found on getting rid of Black Widows: How to Get Rid of Black Widows - The column on the right had lots of good "Natural" suggestions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Frappuccino Pick-Me-Up

I love frappuccinos.  My favorite is the mocha. If I'm out and about and need a pick-me-up, I can usually find a Starbucks or a locally owned coffee shop. If I'm at home and the craving hits, I make my own. I've gotten pretty good at it. If the hubby is home, he happily joins me.

For me, a pretty glass is part of the experience. The fabulous glasses from my mother-in-law are the best.

I Googled frappuccino recipe when I first started making these. From there I tweaked on my own. Now I don't even measure. A little of this and a little of that and it always seems to turn out great. My recipe makes about 4 servings. I keep trying to only make two, but haven't mastered that yet.

I start with a cup or two of leftover coffee that has cooled down. It's usually the morning coffee that has sat in the pot for hours. Sometimes I put leftover coffee in a jar and put it in the frig to use later.

Next, I add a spoon of chocolate powder or cocoa. It can be sweetened or un. Whatever.

Sugar is needed to cut the bitterness a bit. If the chocolate powder was unsweetened, you'll need to use a little more. I start with 1/4 cup.

Around our house we don't drink milk - I have dairy issues. We drink Almond Breeze almond milk. I usually add about a cup of chocolate almond milk. No chocolate? The vanilla or regular milk with a little extra cocoa. Extra note about Almond Breeze: This stuff is fabulous! If you decide to try it, get the refrigerated kind in the half gallon cartons. The unrefrigerated kind is not nearly as tasty.

If vanilla or chocolate ice cream is on hand, a scoop of it will really add a wonderful creamy texture. Totally optional.

Add a tray of ice and blend.

This step is important - taste it to see if any adjustments need to be made. Usually, this is where I see if any sugar needs to be added.

Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream. Whipped cream in not something I keep on hand, so my fraps are usually without.  But on the rare occasions I do splurge and get some, I always think that it sure is better with whipped cream than without.

Use a straw if you have one on hand.

Wait one hour for the energy to kick back in.  I feel like such a cheater relying on legal stimulants to get me moving. Please don't tell Dr. Oz. I just couldn't face him right now.  In fact, there's nothing about this drink that would make him happy.


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