Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Cup From the Garden

Spent the morning at the garden shop...basked through the early afternoon...re-reading "A Year in the World"...and got a nice sun-kissed glow...then "played in the dirt" for awhile...coming in to make homemade (fresh) strawberry ice-cream.

Maybe the perfect sunny day!

Picked up a couple of bright Red Geraniums to nestle into a container of Dusty Miller...also seeded Red Poppies and hoping for the best this year. Last year they were doing fairly well...until Tucker-Cat decided they were growing in the very same spot he chose as his sunning spot and he sprawled in their midst. Smashing the lot of them flat. They did not recover. Sprinkled rose-moss seed...tiny and gun-metal gray...around the outer perimeter of the "frog spa". I love papery thin rose-moss flowering in a carnival of colors. I tend to be a "mover" when it comes to plants and dug and relocated some of my sempervivum  (hens and chicks) that had overgrown as well.

Haven't heard a "peep" from the frogs yet this season...but the hummingbirds are back in force "thwit-thwitting" and letting me know in no uncertain terms that I've grown lax in my feeder duties.

"...no Joe, really...there used to this great little diner over there...must'a closed or under new management or somethin' " 

It is good to see them back. Last year a family nested in one of my hanging plants. There are few things cuter than a tiny hovering baby "hummer" at the feeder.

The ice-cream is the first batch I have made since Bill died more than two years ago. The whole homemade ice-cream with mix-ins being this huge "thing" of ours in the summer time. Me mixing and measuring ingredients...him packing the machine with ice and salt and adjusting the paddle. Both of us sneaking a bit while it was still soft and only partially set. Good memories. Felt good to hear the familiar grinding as the thin aluminum churned against the salted ice. And spooning a dollop of the still soft ice-cream over fresh sliced strawberries. And hearing his laughter in my head when I ran out of ice while making it...because...well as he always pointed out- I tended to have a refilling the ice-cube tray deficiency...lol  ~smiling~

Thought I would share Bill's recipe...which was actually his Dad's.

Bill's Basic Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream

(to which you can add almost anything)

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 vanilla bean split and scraped (discard pod)

1 egg yolk

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt.

Mix all ingredients well and pour in freezer canister of ice-cream churn.

Pack churn with ice/salt mixture to the top.

Churn until mixture is thick and frozen.

Pack into freezer safe container to have with your favorite mix in. (candy/chocolate/fresh fruit/cookie dough)

 Also delicious plain.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Sleepy Sunday Cup

Face it...the Car Show and Mushroom Festival would have been a really damp experience today!  I'll pass this year. Mad dogs and Englishmen and all that.

Enjoying inside...quiet and dry... a cup of hot tea and the cat on my lap as I write and edit photos kind of Sunday. Working on my second (of three) Manuscript in the Zen Living Series.

                           (which is currently just a cover shot and an outline)

 Catching up on personal correspondence and the news.

The news. 

You have to file this under Dave Barry's "You can't make this kind of stuff up"
Durex (the condom people) have came out with a new tech product that works with your cell phone.

                                                   Introducing "Fundawear."

(Sent to me from an old friend who may have way too much time on his hands.)
                                                                                                       I'm just saying.

Fundawear are undergarments that have tiny electrodes built in. Think high tech foreplay. The stimulation is controlled by cell phone. Perhaps taking cyber-sex and "great phone" to the next obvious level. Tailored for both women (bra and panties) and men (just briefs). Practical applications...maybe warming things up on the way home from an office or trip. Long business trips or deployment. Long distance relationships. Or just adding an additional spark (bit of fun) between any couple...anywhere.

Thanks, Robert. No~ I really didn't believe you...and yes, I looked it up. Shaking my head. Only you...
Definitely my laugh for the day. Possibly the week.

Bringing the old ATT slogan back from the dust:

"Reach Out and Touch Someone"

Yeah yeah...seriously, Bill and I would have immediately tried these, you know.

 A gentle light rain today...good for the sets and seeds planted earlier in the week. This year's "trying something new" crop...Snow Peas. Those wonderful crunchy pods added to Moo Goo Gai Pan (as well as many other excellent Chinese recipes)

Which brings me to today's recipe:

Moo Goo Gai Pan

1 pound (raw) boneless chicken sliced thinly.

1 tablespoon oil. (preferably peanut)

1 small can sliced bamboo

1 clove garlic (minced)

1 cup (sliced) fresh mushrooms

1 cup fresh snow pea pods

1 small can water chestnuts (sliced and drained)

Heat wok and stir-fry all ingredients together until chicken is done.


1/4 cup chicken broth


1 teaspoon each:

Soy Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Rice Wine

To precooked items in Wok. Stir all together until all vegetables and chicken are coated and sauce thickens.

To serve...garnish with slivered toasted almonds. Serve over white rice.

 (...but not in your "Fundawear"...)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Birthday Cup!

                                                  Birthday French Silk

So...this is 53, eh?


Enjoyed Chocolate French Silk and Coffee to start my Birthday yesterday (online...back in the box till July...) with Idgy who had baked a chocolate cake as well. Synchronized "cake-making"~ make a wish, Morning Glory Planting, and coffee & chat. Where she reminded me that I will stay 50 forever...and she is 30 until she hits 40...and man are we        going to celebrate that (only two more years).

Had a Mexican brunch out with friends...perused the garden shop...found patio chairs (Chris' gift)...a small shopping spree with him that evening complete with Steak and Baked Sweet Potato and New Asparagus for dinner...and more pie, of course...(and also some of the plants to start my gardening)  Birthday Greetings from Everyone...and settling in for the evening with a deep bubble bath, enjoying some of the "Lush" bath items from my birthday box. Nothing says perfect ending to your birthday like a candlelit bubble bath.

Lush is a Canadian based homemade bubble bath and scrubs and soap outlet. Check them out!  http://www.lush.com/

Now the whole bath smells a lot like lemon, lime and mango :) And got to experience the whole Facebook "gift" system, as well...which is really cool. Had never tried it out myself! You can send real stuff...even an individual cookie or cupcake with a card and a click!

Be on the lookout guys...I can see drive-by cookie(ing) or cake-popping in everyone's future. 

It was a splendid birthday! 

Spent today doing what I love. Just playing in the gardens and flowerbeds. Have mulch will encroach. Got this year's herb basket started...planted my Concords...finished the veggie bed...complete with peppers (green and banana), tomatoes, green beans, onions, sugar pea pods, and cucumbers. Have a container garden planned for my red potatoes and strawberries. In the flower beds added more Ivy and Dusty Miller and contemplating Red Geraniums this year for that color pop. 

It will be so good to have a small kitchen garden again. Missed growing fresh veggies so much! 

                                            My Urban Garden Spot


                                   The Beginning of My 2013 Herb Basket

As so it begins :)

This week's book inspired by a recent lecture by Jane Goodall: Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating. A reminder that not only "we are what we eat"...but also that food's impact on our planet and our survival as a species. Excellent read. Can't wait to read "The Seeds We Sow" her new book (releasing soon).

Also excited about my April Release of The Mindful Life: Zen Living available online. And beginning the second book (of three) in the series.


It is short. It is simple. It is to the point.
And it can change your attitude...maybe your life.

 The core principles changed mine.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Cup of Sunshine!

The end of a roller-coaster week in America...and the return of sunshine.

Both figuratively and literally.

Love and Light to everyone in West, Texas...as the town begins to heal from the horrific explosion earlier this week. And you don't have to look far to see "the helpers" in the tight knit community. What struck me as even more incredible is how amazing the people are...not "blaming" or "bad-mouthing" the fertilizer company or its owners...in fact just the opposite. Realizing that sometimes accidents happen. Things happen. These people help restore my faith in humanity's capacity for goodness.

As well as these.

In fact, most of the Bostonians, today. Followed the massive manhunt for the remaining Marathon Bombing Suspect yesterday...until at last he was in custody. Our country may be severely divided but last night at the moment of arrest...the people of Waterford, MA lined the streets and applauded the officers who found two individuals in a city of 70,000...needles in a haystack...and for that moment they were a People United. An inspiration for us all.

Just watching it was an amazing feeling.

And in our area there was the literal return of the sunshine today...after an unbelievable amount of rain.

                                                  Turkey Run Bridge

I have no idea who took the picture...but I am hoping they were on high ground.

Several days of monsoon-like rain has most of our county floating away with the mulch. But the sun is back today and the waters are slowly receding leaving the ground saturated and it will make for easy planting next week.

Not so good for my morel sporing efforts, I'm afraid...and all my morels may be "donated" and "bought" this season.

And a ray of sunshine personally- as well, as I helped arrange a meeting between my oldest son and his bio-dad (Ford) for the first time since he was 6 months old. Funny thing life. They live within one hour of each other, these days!

 It went extremely well with both laughing and soon realizing that "personality" is a great deal genetic. Saying that within five minutes it felt like they had known each other all their lives. They're both amazing guys! 

Here's hoping they don't get arrested...~laughing~ 

 Going to join them when I am in Tampa...for a day together.

With Chris and Don (his bio-dad) sharing a wonderful relationship- and now James and Ford together...life is very good!  Proving what I have always said

"Things may be throw-away...but people aren't...people and love they bring are for always."

And as if proof of my last statement...an out of the blue early birthday call from an old friend/past love today :)  Yes...I've missed you, too. And catching up with each other's lives for a bit.

Last...but certainly not least...A STAN sighting...thanks to Vicki...carousing with the ladies at the bar before leaving on the cruise...

 Diane...I can't believe we MISSED this one. Maybe next time :)

OMG...I just realized that is "the hussy" aka LuAnn with STAN in her clutches again.


And  of course the "little flat bastard" (Karl and Sal's name for him)
soaking up the last rays before heading home.

(...not the real Stan...one of his many imposters)

Can't wait to see EVERYBODY at the Pennsylvania Gathering!!!

 Fill up the "beast" Carol, we are going to light up Highway-81.

                                             Carol and her new baby

                                   (...no waking up all hours of the night or
                                     throw-up on your shoulder or strained peas
                                     in your hair...or anything! )


Life over 40 is AMAZING!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Darkness...and a Cup of HOPE

And make no mistake...it has been a DARK week for America.

The Boston Marathon Bombing...Ricin sent to Congress and The President...The Explosion in West Texas...and, of course, the Fanatics and Conspiracy folks which creep out of the woodwork...The Westboro Baptist "Church"- a category of evil themselves. Shrill media and much misinformation. And forums filled with hateful rhetoric.

Still, amidst the darkness the stars shine brightest.

Strangers who reached out to one another seconds after the bombs exploded.

Bostonians who opened their homes and hearts and wallets to people trapped in an unfamiliar city after the unthinkable.

Americans who vow to shelter the deceased's survivors from the protests and pickets of Fred Phelps and his heartless clan.

An office worker who recognized the MO of the Mississippi man who mailed the Ricin tainted letters and made the call...which resulted in an almost immediate arrest.

Americans who surrendered images on their cell phones and recordings to assist the FBI in apprehending the terrorists...regardless if they are foreign or domestic.

Texans who open their hearts and arms to grieving families today
 by being FAMILY...whether or not they are related.

And the ghost of Fred Rogers...reminding us that:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” 

Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Some wore old comfortable sweaters and welcomed you to their neighborhood. 

 At Depauw yesterday a hero of a different sort lectured. 

A mild graying woman of 79 who at age 26 left London for Africa to follow a dream...lived with the chimps...and has spent her life enlightening the rest of us. She is known world-wide.



 She is Jane Goodall.

Yesterday's lecture entitled "Sowing the Seeds of Hope" reminded me of the often quoted Ghandi reflection...that WE must BE the CHANGE we hope to see in the WORLD. That the future of humanity is in our hands. An amazing woman. An incredible lecture and a personal hero. 

After this week we need all the Jane Goodalls, Maya Lou Angelous, and Fred Rogers we can find. 

(Currently reading her Harvest for Hope...now signed!)

Spreaking of HARVEST.

Yes...it is THAT time again with the warm rains and sunshine beginning to coax the grays up at last.

Although the yellows appear to be late this year...and the sporing was not as effective as at the Cottage thus far. Perhaps the late winter snow and (now) relentless rains. And the only fungus we scouted out in Tennessee shown below

                     (...actually they are edible...they just aren't morels...)


Not to worry...a local market always has a few pounds available...just in case...and yes...bought morels taste almost as good as fresh picked in a pinch. And the Mushroom Festival and Car Show is coming soon!

If my sporing has proven iffy this year...and there is always next...the bluebells propagated by sectioning a single root last year are thriving. From a single root cut into one inch sections I have a beautiful area beginning to fill in with bluebells. After they bloom I am going to dig one out and section the roots to propagate even more. One of my favorite wildflowers.

No planting today, though. The beds look a lot like rice paddies. Cox Nursery thinks I have abandoned them. Hoping to plant most everything next week.

And last, but not least...you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Or at least an "old cook".

After finding a sign that "Idgy" and I had a good laugh over

"Of course I have a kitchen...it came with the house."

 Tongue in cheek commentary on the fact that I am "the cook" and she is:

"Damn it Jim, I'm an Artist...not a chef."

She proceeded to teach me to make the most amazingly simple (and delicious)  Chicken and Dumplings I have ever ate.
I will never fix them from scratch again.

So without further adieu...and keep the "ohmigod...that is so obvious" to yourself.

"Idgy's" Amazing Chicken and Dumplings

Boil chicken and reserve broth. Set meat aside. If chicken is skinless/boneless add can of chicken broth to water.

1 tube GRANDS butter flavored biscuits. Cut biscuits in quarters.

Drop quarters (dumplings) into boiling broth for 3-5 minutes. Turn them once.

When dumplings are done use 1/4 cup flour sprinkled over broth to thicken then add shredded boiled chicken back in.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve HOT and don't forget the Sweet Tea."

 I am STILL shaking my head.








Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Southern Cup and "Pah"

Home again...after an incredible week :)

And with a fresh case of "South Mouth"...as in

"Kin I hep yew?"


"Yes, mo ch'urry pah thankyew"

Waking up missing Angie and coffee and double-chocolate biscotti...BB and Ivy  and REAL morning hugs.


  Back into the box...~sigh~  Well, at least until her trip up in July...when we are plotting a fresh-water beach...build a bonfire on the sand...and collect driftwood and rocks...holiday together.

Through years of travels through Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida...it is amazing I didn't settle "Down South". I love the sunbaked clay changing from the reds of Georgia to the mustard/ocher yellows of Memphis and Mississippi...the humidity and heat...the "Plantation Magnolias" and Live Oaks...the music and the food (where else can you get barbecue piled high and topped with coleslaw with a side of deep fried pickles and a glass of sweet tea to wash it down...and yes a slice of "chawklit pah" to make the meal perfect)...the genuine hospitality...and realness of the people.

I may travel the World...but my heart lives firmly across the Mason-Dixon line.

This Spring spent checking out her new Cottage and studio and latest artistic endeavors...catching the film Life of Pi...building pizza and coffeecake from scratch together...and homemade Coke Blak...sipping Duplin and Scuppernong beneath a large Bougainvillea...plotting and planning our gardens...plundering probably the largest antique store I have ever seen...seriously you could pick an era, and completely redecorate and furnish your home from this place...walking in the park and checking out the log cabins...and an impromptu road-trip...generated by an old Bob Seger cover of Tina Turner's

"Nutbush City Limits"

                                                     Highway US-19

                                                     And we found it!

And the best laid plans...of course.

(lyrics) Nutbush City Limits:

There's a church house- gin house
A little school house- outhouse
On highway number nineteen
The people keep the city clean
They call it Nutbush, oh Nutbush
They call it Nutbush City Limits

Twenty-five for speed limit
Motorcycles not allowed in it

 No whiskey for sale
Can't find a female
Salt pork and molasses
Is all your gonna get if you land in jail

You better watch out
for the po-lice
If you're driving through Nutbush.
Keep an eye out for the po-lice


So after winding through the backroads...having already passed through Bucksnort, Tennessee...(I have seen Bucksnort...my traveling life is complete)...about an hour and a half out of Memphis...we found US-19...and at last Nutbush!

Laughing like fools because it seems Ms. Turner might of taken the whole town with her when she made her escape all those years back. Even the City Limits sign is gone. They did rename US-19 after her. One good sneeze and you would miss the entire town. Even the church-house was now abandoned (...a minor miracle in Tennessee...a State that has churches a lot like Nevada has casinos...)  And an outhouse would have been a welcome sight...after 2 hours travel.

You could have driven a motorcycle, or 110 MPH for all it mattered...crushing our fantasies of possibly getting a speeding ticket in Nutbush. (...we would have framed it!)
Where the hell is a Tennessee State Trooper when you need him? 

And since we were hoping to brunch in Nutbush...by one'o'clock even Salt Pork and Molasses were sounding good. Sadly, the jailhouse was as gone as the school-house and outhouse.

Lucky for us...Riley was just down the road where we drowned our dashed expectations in "pah" and "indoor plumbin' "and we (okay...I) requested Miss Emily read the entire "pah" list.

"...we gots chawklit...churry...cream..."

Just to listen to her South Mouth.

After a wedge of homemade Coconut Cream "pah" in a REAL flaky lard crust...we were feeling much better about the whole thing.

It was a Grand Adventure!

                                             ...just outside Nutbush...

                                        And soon to be immortalized in oil!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Sunday Night Cup

                                            Never Miss An Opportunity
                                                To Play In The Dirt

Sipping that last cup of tea before turning in. It has been a full weekend!
Have everything ready...and heading to Tennessee next week. Can't wait!
Rumor has it that Morels are already up down South!
Still waiting here...

Spent most of the day digging...mulching...and generally "playing in the dirt". The nails and polish experiments over until next winter. It has been fun...but I don't garden in gloves unless I'm pruning the roses. Want to feel the earth in my hands.

Plans for this year include an arbor of Concord Grapes...a couple of David Austin Damask Roses...expanding the veggie side to have trellised cucumbers...green (bush type) beans...onions...patio container red potatoes...green bell peppers and Roma Tomatoes. A half-barrel of strawberries. Planting one large and several small herb baskets to include garlic/oregano/basil/sage and a tea basket of mint/chamomile/valerian/lemon balm. Have also learned that Horseradish is definitely a container item. So invasive. Adding to my existing cutting garden...and can't wait to see the new varieties of irises I planted last fall bloom. Delphinium and Zinnias and Rose of Sharon, too. And SUNFLOWERS, of course. Expanding the "Frog Spa" and setting a half of a clay pot on its side for a toad/frog hideaway... also adding a small bistro-type set to the patio and perhaps a half-barrel with miniature water lilies and a few small fancy goldfish...later...oh...and a Meyer Patio Lemon Tree in a pot :)

If it sounds like a lot packed into my small urban space...well...getting a better grasp of verticals and container gardens this year. As much as I enjoy cooking with fresh ingredients...making my own tea blends and putting the extras by...I realize a few extra veggies/herbs/fruits are a must. I grew up with a Concord grape arbor in the backyard...and realized I want one of my own.

Celebrating the FIRST day it has been warm enough to BASK and have a bit of color, already!  (...yes...red is a color...)  May have overdid it for the first day of sun...but...it felt sooooooooooooo good!

Perfect Spring Weekend!

Angie...soon to be there with Good Coffee and Chocolate...Biscotti and REAL HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

An April Cup


And is there any other month more enjoyable for a birthday?

Celebrating both mine...and my youngest grandson's (...he, who had the good fortune of being born on Earth Day!)

My 53rd...and his 3rd.

A month of warm breezes...early travel...spring planting...buds and blooms...the return of the robins and later humming birds...fresh morels...rumbling and sparkling car shows...lighter fare with salads and fresh asparagus and waters. Honeysuckle and Jasmine candles.

And, this April, the celebration lasts over the entire month...reminding me of a co-worker, Wanda, who always celebrated every day of her birth month. Walking up with a smile each day to say

"Hey...guess what today is?" 

 "It's my BIRTHDAY!"

(...and her husband played along, as well...giving her one small wrapped gift every day...)

Never failed to generate a laugh, though. And at least once- we celebrated (complete with a small cake) at work on Nov. 1st, because...well... it wasn't Wanda's birthday anymore!

So mine begins tomorrow with a Spring Brunch with Kara and Barbara...and ending the week with Pam (and Lobsterfest...a birthday tradition with us...then only days later headed to Memphis...and an early celebration with Angie and Che  :)  

Can't wait!

Our coffee and chat starting much the same way every morning for the past couple of weeks.

"Only ____ more days!"  (squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel)

And plotting and planning our Tennessee Adventures.

Waiting and watching to see the results of my spore plugs (morels) from Fall and can hardly wait for the first of the grays! Yes...I know you can freeze them...and no...I never do...the anticipation is as delicious as the first Morel.

 Knowing Spring has truly arrived by the dusting off of my neighbor's cherry red fully restored VW bus puttering around Greencastle. Looking forward to the beginning of Car Season! Harley Season...already started last week...lol... Also conveniently beginning in April.

And container planting a Meyers Lemon Tree for my patio on Earth Day!

Yes, with Friends and Brunches...Family and Grands...Spring Planting and Flowers...Car shows and Harleys...Earth Day and Morels...April is (perhaps) the PERFECT month to be born!!