Monday, June 27, 2016

blast from the past

  When I checked Facebook this morning, I had a message request from someone whose name rang a distant bell. I repeated the name to myself a couple of times, trying to place this person, and my mind flashed back to my teenage years. Then I read the message. He asked if I remembered him. That his best friend used to date my best friend. Then it all came back to me.

The year was 1978. I was 16 years old and living in Jamestown, Kentucky. My best friend and her boyfriend used to come to my house on the weekend and the three of us would hang out. Of course in those days, there wasn't any internet or cable TV or cell phones. We would hang out in the living room and actually talk for hours without the distraction of screens. I can remember the three of us sitting on my parent's faux leather couch (man, that thing was hot and sticky when we were wearing shorts!) and laughing hysterically because the boyfriend gave my kitten a piece of cheese and the kitten promptly got up in the boyfriend's lap and farted. 

{My best friend - who's wearing my strawberry top because she loved it - and her boyfriend}

We lived in a rural area, so there was nowhere for us to go. We didn't even have a McDonalds. About all we had was a drive-in movie theater, a roller rink, and the high school gymnasium when there were basketball games.

Being 16 and seeing my best friend with a boyfriend when I didn't have one...well, I just had to have a boyfriend, too. So my best friend's boyfriend promised me he'd fix me up with his best friend, J. J and I wrote each other little notes - yes, handwritten ones - and they were delivered via courier pigeon  Best Friend's boyfriend. Why Best Friend's boyfriend never brought J to my house when he'd come over with my best friend, I don't remember. But I do remember one night, Best Friend and her boyfriend picked me up and the three of us went to a basketball game in a town about 30 miles away where the guys lived. J was supposed to meet us at the basketball game. He never showed up. It wasn't like we could call or text him to find out where he was! Boy, the kids nowadays have it so easy, don't they? 

Eventually, my best friend and her boyfriend broke up, and I gave up my hopes of ever meeting the infamous J.

{my sister, my best friend, and our four dogs - GS (stood for German Shepherd - we were clever like that), Ringo, Puggy & Gypsy}

So now, after 38 years, the Mystery Man somehow finds me and contacts me?! I wrote back and told him that I did remember him and asked how in the world he even remembered me. I looked at his Facebook page and from the photos I see, he still lives in the same town in Kentucky, is married, and even has a few little grandchildren.

{Me and my best friend; Christmas 1978}

All I really want to know is:

Where was he that night he was supposed to meet me at the basketball game? ;-)

Monday, June 20, 2016

family weekend

 Be still, my heart! This brown-eyed beauty is my second cousin, whom I met for the first time this weekend. Most of the people in my family are fair-haired and blue-eyed, so what a wonder to behold those dark eyes. Eyes just like her daddy. 

We celebrated the baby's first birthday at my aunt's house. Baby Cousin's birthday technically isn't until July 21st (which is also my deceased son, Philip's birthday, so how special is that?) but since they live out-of-state and were in town for the weekend, we had an early celebration. My mom made a delicious carrot cake, which was totally vegan. We don't have any vegans in our family, but we have several who are lactose-intolerant, so there was no dairy in this cake. The cream cheese is made from almond milk. The cake was absolutely delicious. My normal, healthy, everyday eating doesn't include sugar, but I made an exception for this cake. 

Baby Cousin obviously loved her birthday cake, too. Her mama told me she's never had sweets or sugar before, so this was a first. 

Of course, Sunday was Father's Day. My dad passed away 17-1/2 years ago. He wasn't a hands-on dad (I know not many were "back in the day"), was very strict, and wasn't the huggy-lovey type, but I knew that he loved us in his own way. He was a very intelligent, well-read and well-spoken man, with a quick temper and a dry wit. That's me on the left and my sister on the right. Don't you love our Farrah Fawcett-type hairdos? This was around 1979.

Tim came home for Father's Day and we grilled marinated chicken breasts, ribeye burgers, and potato-onion foil packets. We also had an Israeli couscous veggie salad, fruit salad, and homemade baked beans - all leftover from my cousin's party. Tim gifted Brian with a veggie grill pan, which will really come in handy next time we barbeque.

We were teasing Tim and saying Happy Father's Day to him, as Zippo is his baby...Tim was the one who found Zippo on our property as a stray, almost 17 years ago. Yes, Zippo is 17! He was about three months old when he showed up at our house. As you can tell by the photo, Zippo is a very relaxed kitty and loves to be held like a baby. He certainly doesn't look 17, does he? He's very healthy except for a little arthritis in his back legs and one eye being dilated all the time due to some sinus pressure in his head. My cats see a holistic vet and Zippo has homeopathic drops that are custom-made for his conditions.

And today ~ the first day of summer for those of us in the Northern hemisphere. It's been very hot and humid here, but I won't complain. It certainly beats our winter weather. You don't have to shovel sunshine! :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

on the brink of summer ~ lush and green

The beauty and lushness of the Midwest really shines in mid-June. Between lots of sunshine, warm temps and scattered thunderstorms, nature explodes. This past weekend, I went to Ginger Blossom ~ a place that carries fair trade ethnic rugs, furniture, clothing, textiles, crafts and antiques from all around the world. I've featured this business on my blog before, so it might look familiar to some of you. This is a privately-owned business and is on the expansive grounds of the owner. I always enjoy walking around taking photographs  of these peaceful grounds. Little cottages are filled with ethnic goods and the property is filled with gorgeous perennials, flowers and statuary.

This barn is filled to the rafters with furniture and art objects from all over the world.  

I found this beautiful glassware from Mexico in the barn. These glasses are thick and sturdy (I hate flimsy drinking glasses!) and I love the vibrant colors. I only bought two for now; at $6 each I wanted to make sure we really liked them before I bought a complete set. I can always go back and buy more.

Because it was the art and music weekend at Ginger Blossom, a singer with a gorgeous voice serenaded the visitors all day.

This lady, Angie is the main reason I love going to the art and music weekends at Ginger Blossom. She comes to these special weekends to sell different varieties of abergele cheese (which is a specialty cheese from Wisconsin - a tribute to Abergele, North Wales, UK), raw honey, organic maple syrup, handmade soaps, homegrown veggies, homemade healthy dips, and delicious homemade baked goods. I don't eat much cheese, but I cannot resist the garam masala abergele cheese. It's very creamy and rich, with the spicy Indian flavors on the outside of the cheese. One small slice is perfectly satisfying.

Speaking of lush and green, I'll show you a little of what's going on back at my home...

 I'm still working on the patio area. I bought two hanging solar lanterns at IKEA and hung them from the trees that overhang the patio. They're charging right now...I can't wait to see how they look at night! 

Here's the problem on the patio right now. Mulberries. I cannot tell you how much I loathe these things! They fall from our neighbor's tree every year. We had her tree trimmed back a couple of years ago to her property line. Last year, we were relatively berry-free, but this year they've come back with a vengeance. This tree isn't even hanging over the patio again...I guess the growth is just enough where they are managing to find our patio once more. If these things aren't swept up every day, they attract flies and ants. Not to mention you can't walk on the patio without the berries squishing under your shoes!

My basil is prolific right now. I really need to start harvesting it and making some pesto.

When I was at Ginger Blossom, I also bought a red sorrel plant from Angie. She said it was a slow-growing perennial and I thought it was pretty with the red veins in the green leaves. I can harvest the leaves and use them in salads.

One of my favorite perennials that burst into bloom just this past weekend: tickseed. I don't do anything to it except deadhead when the flowers dry up. I never even water or fertilize this plant. Comes back bigger every year and I love it. Great cutting flowers for small vases, too.

I was so worried about my clematis. It wasn't doing well for awhile and all the leaves were drying up. Hubby fertilized it again and it came back to life. You can see the new tendrils growing up the arbor and even new buds on the vines. Hooray!

The tomato plants are growing nicely and have the telltale yellow flowers on them that will soon be fruit.

The Phlox, Butterfly Bush, Purple Coneflower and Black-eyed Susan in the butterfly garden are really taking off, but nothing in bloom yet - except for the columbine in the back. That's always the first to bloom.

Joe Pye Weed is really taking off, too. This was two small plants just a few years ago. By August, it'll be much taller and have beautiful blooms on it, which the bees love. That smaller groundcover next to the Joe Pye Weed is goutweed - a very invasive plant that appeared "out of nowhere" a couple of years ago. At first I thought it was kind of pretty...but when they say it's invasive, that's putting it mildly. I'm always pulling clumps of it out of the ground to keep it away from the other plants. I'm going to have to Google how to get rid of it for good (without using pesticides). 

One spring annual that I'm surprised is still thriving despite several days in the 90's is these little violas. They seem to love being in the birdcage and are starting to grow right through the top! I suppose it's because this birdcage is hanging from a plant hook in an area that's mostly shady.

Talk to you all soon...I'm off now to sweep up mulberries. ;-)

Sharing with At Home with Jemma - Thoughts of Home on Thursday.

Friday, June 10, 2016

what to eat when it's too hot to cook ~ three healthy recipes

 It's not officially summer yet, but the temperature is saying otherwise: in the 90's and humid today and tomorrow. I don't know about you, but when the weather is this hot, I certainly don't feel like eating hot, heavy food. Light and healthy is the way to go. 

A smoothie always hits the spot for breakfast or a snack. One thing I love about smoothies is that they're so versatile. You don't have spinach; use kale. Out of strawberries; use raspberries or blueberries. Need some protein in your smoothie? Add a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter. Here's my basic recipe.

In a blender, add the following in this order:

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1-1/2 cups cold water
1 cup organic frozen fruit (I used a triple berry mix)
1/2 - 1 banana (depending on how thick you like your smoothie)
1 handful organic baby spinach (or kale)
1/2 tablespoon each flaxmeal and hemp seed (you can also add chia seeds)
1 tablespoon organic unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Give it a whirl...

Stick a straw in your drink, sit outside in the shade, and enjoy.

Rice bowls are popular these days and I can see why. They're adaptable, easy to make, healthy, and visually appealing. I made this taco bowl the other night and hubby went back for thirds. ;-) OK, maybe I should call this a taco plate because I didn't have a big enough bowl! Starting from the left: romaine, radishes, black olives, scallions, fresh cilantro, halved cherry tomatoes, cooked organic, grass-fed beef with taco seasoning, cooked brown rice. The "sauce" you see on top of the romaine is guacamole (make your own or buy prepared) mixed with a little plain Greek yogurt. So, how do you eat this? Anyway you want! You can be messy and mix it all together, or you can dip your fork into the creamy sauce, then into the veggies and beef and work your way around the plate in random order. There's no correct way to eat a rice bowl! This is a great way to get a lot of veggies into your diet, too. Meat should be the accompaniment, with the veggies being the star of the show. For a vegetarian option - or a no-cook option - substitute black beans for the ground beef.

I'm not a dessert eater and I also don't eat processed sugar anymore, but sometimes in the hot weather I crave ice cream. So, I make my own "nice cream" in the blender! This chocolate recipe definitely hits the spot.

One avocado
A few chunks frozen banana (slice ahead of time and keep in freezer)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (according to your taste)
Enough unsweetened almond milk to blend smooth (according to your blender)

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Eat as is, or top with fresh berries or chopped nuts. A friend of mine asked the other day if this tastes like avocado and I told her no - you would never even know this has avocado in it. All the avocado does is make the mixture smooth and creamy.

Here's to your health ~ enjoy the weekend!

Sharing with Art and Sand: Share Your Cup #201 and Rattlebridge Farm: Foodie Friday.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

patio daddio and a quick day trip

Tim came home for a quick visit this past weekend and we grilled Friday night. I love this photo I captured of father and son on the patio. They look deep in conversation, though quite relaxed. 

After dinner, we played Rummy. Clementine loves to get up on the table in the middle of the action when we're playing games (yes, I disinfect my table a lot!) but I think our game was a little boring to her.

Back on the patio Saturday morning for coffee (me) and tea (Brian), until...

Brian said, "Let's get the heck out of here" ~ and we went up to Milwaukee and Cedarburg, Wisconsin. It was cool and rainy, but sometimes the road just calls.

We didn't have a lot of time to explore many stores since this wasn't a planned trip and we left a little late, but we did get to eat a late lunch at one of our favorite mexican restaurants in Milwaukee. We walked around the famous Glorioso's Deli, but didn't buy anything. You know you're in Wisconsin when you see bags of cheese curds!

Stopped in an independent coffee shop for a cuppa tea to warm places like this with so much character and charm.

Local artwork is always hanging on the walls. These paintings were incredible.

 We then headed another 20 minutes north to the small, delightful town of Cedarburg. We basically walked up and down the streets just to get some exercise and fresh air; only stopped in a couple of shops to look around. 

I suppose it's no surprise that I stopped to take photos of all the beautiful flowers. Overflowing planters are in front of just about every store.

 This peony really caught my eye because of the delicate hot pink edging in the middle of the flower. So random, yet so perfect.

 How simple and clever is this idea for extra seating on a patio? It's just stacked pallets with cushions on top.

 All too soon, it was time to head back home, but yet I was ready.