Saturday was cold, wet and dreary. Sunday brought more of the same and I could feel myself beginning to wallow in it. I convinced my husband to skip town and we took a little road trip down to New Haven. The city was pretty congested because Yale was having its Summer Camp check in and there was a Caribbean festival going on in town so we spent the afternoon on Chapel Street. It’s a nice walking area with lots of unique shops, restaurants and some of the old Yale campus buildings. I found a birthday present for my daughter in one of my favorite stores and a pretty piece of vintage wrapping paper in an art store. The paper will be perfect for a decoupage project I have in mind.
We had lunch at one of my favorite cafés, Claire’s Cornucopia.
It ended up being a fun day.
The strawberries are almost done. My daughters came over and we had strawberry sundaes. I added sugar to whole, fresh strawberries and cooked them down over medium low heat until the mixture became thick and syrupy. After it cooled, we spooned it over strawberry ice cream and topped it off with freshly whipped cream. My pregnant daughter added bananas and chocolate sauce to hers.
My 2 year old red currant bush has set out some nice berries that I’ve been harvesting and freezing. It will probably yield only a few cups of berries in total this year. They will taste good combined with raspberries in a crisp or crumble.
I like blue lace cap hydrangeas. They send out runners, like the Annabelle hydrangea. In early Spring, the runners can be easily dug up with the roots and soon you have a whole new bush. A few years ago, I started with 2 bushes and now I have 6. I planted some of them in with the blueberries and lavender. I had read that all the blue flowering plants camouflage the blueberries from the birds. I’m not sure it has proven to be very effective but it’s a pretty combination.
Flora had her bath. Since she spends most of her days roaming around with me in the gardens, she’ll look dirty in no time. I figured I’d take a picture of her while she’s nice and clean. Have a good weekend everyone!
This has been a good season for strawberries. We ate a lot of them and then froze another 8 quarts. There’s an easy way to freeze strawberries so the berries stay separated instead of sticking together in one big lump. Wash the berries, take their leaves off and pat them dry. Spread them out on a cookie sheet so they aren’t touching each other and set them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the strawberries into containers or freezer bags and then back into the freezer until you want to use them.
Garlic should be sending up scapes pretty soon. I always direct sow squash, beans and cucumbers seeds into the garden. I think they are heartier than transplants and they are doing great. My heirloom peppers are pitiful, doomed from the start.
Calendulas are blooming. Another favorite of mine! For now, I’m adding the petals to salads, smoothies and into whatever I put through the juicer. They have a mild taste and contain antioxidant carotenoids..lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. Later in the season, I’ll use the flowers to make skin products. Calendula is known as the ‘Queen of Cosmetic Herbs’ and for its healing properties. Tomorrow, my dog Flora is due for a bath. In the past she’s had skin issues. To keep things sweet, I’ll infuse a few flowers in some water and add that to her bath.
When I was a little girl, I went to a fairy tale wedding. My cousin Kathy looked like Cinderella and the man she married had fallen in love with her at first sight. His name was John and known as ‘Crazy Johny’. He had wild black hair and a big laugh. He danced on tables, sometimes got into trouble and was known to disappear into the woods for days on end. He was intense….strong, fiercely loyal, always learning, positive and kind. He played hard and worked harder. That paid off. He had lots of friends, fun adventures and a beautiful house and family to come home to. His wife and their children were always the loves of his life.
A few years ago, my life changed. My Mom died suddenly. My Dad needed a lot of help. 2 of my 3 daughters left home. My business began to fail and eventually closed. It was a lonely and disorienting transition. I spent my down time playing Scrabble on the computer. I was surprised one day when my crazy cousin Johny challenged me to a game. That developed into a relationship that I will also be thankful for. He told me lots of stories that made me laugh and sometimes cry. Life through his eyes was a beautiful world to see. He let people be who they were. The ones he loved would always be loved, no matter what. He laughed, had fun and ate lots of good food. He was true to himself, his word and the people in his life. (there were many!).
I didn’t realize at first that he was battling a disabilitative disease though it was already into advanced stages. He didn’t allow his illness to define himself, his life or his relationships. Last week the illness claimed his life. It never claimed him.
Today kicked off the first day of this season’s local Farmers’ Market. It’s held on Sundays from 11am until 2 o’clock, on South Farms. Buying from the vendors there is an affirmation of many of the things that are important to me. It gives me the opportunity to support local businesses, organic growing practices and farmers that raise animals that are allowed to run free, are well cared for and are not pumped up with hormones and antibiotics.
I stocked up on groceries and couldn’t resist buying some beautiful alpaca yarn from Stan. Wool itches me but I learned today that there is no lanolin in alpaca yarn so it won’t itch. The skeins I bought were from his alpaca named Victoria, lol. Thank you Stan and Victoria:)
Pond’s Poultry Farm is new to the market. Dwayne Pond has a beautiful, young family and a farm in town. He raises small flocks of chickens and has a couple of pet goats. Turkeys are on the way. He’s a funny guy, check out his t-shirt. I think the picture I posted of the plaque in his booth states his intentions for his small farm perfectly.
The gardens are doing pretty well. Peonies are just starting to bloom. All the vegetables are up and growing but not as energetically as they normally do this time of year because it’s still so hot and dry. I lost most of my roses from a combination of the tough winter and voles. Even the tough old bushes, William Baffin and Lake Champlain had to be cut back severely and are shadows of what they have been in the past. Roses are challenging in the best of times here for an organic gardener. I miss them but most likely I wont replace them. Foxgloves took their role as star of the show this year…things always have a way of working out. happy days
Saturday, I was picking bugs off the lillies. I don’t know what these red bugs are but they will decimate a lilly patch in no time. Then, they move on to asparagus fronds. I’m loving all the time in the garden, (even the bug picking) and thankful for it because things around here have been very stressful. When things get tough, I go into seclusion but my good old friend of 20 years caught wind of what was going on and was having none of it. She showed up unexpectedly and dragged me away on a surprise “field trip”. We went out to breakfast and then went tag saling. It was a fun day. It was good to get out. it was fun to look at a lot of “junk” and mentally transform it into something fun or pretty or useful. It was great spending the day with a wonderful friend. I found a vintage serving bowl in perfect condition and a beat up, wooden sewing box table. The cost was $7 for both and a metal plant stand was thrown in for free. The sewing box table is cheap wood and not worth doing a lot of hand painting on. I decopauged it instead and replaced the handle with a glass dresser knob. This was a quick, fun project and will be a good thing to keep my threads and needles in.
We call plants that self sow and sprout up on their own, Volunteers. All the Foxgloves in my yard are Volunteers and I never have the heart to pull any of them. They are highly poisonous but so very beautiful!
Climbing Hydrangea is blooming. It’s great in shady places, grows quickly and anchors itself to fencing. New plants are started easily with cuttings. It can be a bit aggressive.
I saw this big, glittery bug hanging by its feet from a spiderweb. Its wings were beating frantically. Without even thinking, I plucked it out of the web. The hind legs and one antennae were all stuck together. I didn’t want to leave it like that so I untangled it and got the stickiness off with my fingernail. It took a long time and I was afraid that I was hurting the poor thing. When I was finally done, the bug climbed a lily, checked himself over and then flew away. Does anyone know what kind of bug this is?
Ironically, while I was trying to help this bug I noticed a tic on my leg and mercilessly crushed it.
Today’s full moon is called ‘Strawberry Moon’ by the Native Americans. Right on cue, the strawberries have started to ripen. I am wondering how this season will pan out with all the erratic weather. The temperature dropped more than 30 degrees, it’s barely made it into the 50’s the last few days. Cold temperatures have come with heavy rains and flood warnings.
The peach tree I planted in early May is looking distressed. Leaves are turning yellow and dropping. I’m hesitant to dose it with anything. Transplant shock, extreme temperatures and water fluctuations are most likely the cause. I took a superstitious route instead and planted Hyssop around it.
The blueberry bushes are chock full, Clematis is just opening and the Irises are winding down.
The rainy days have been good for catching up on indoor work. I finally cornered my college girl into going through her clothes and weeding them out. No easy task! Her older sisters send everything they don’t want her way so we waded through a LOT of things and donated more than we ended up keeping.
My oldest daughter is 7 months along with her pregnancy already and she is doing great! The baby is now the size of a coconut and weighs over 4 pounds. I have a tiny room upstairs I’d like to make into a nursery for when baby comes to visit. I’d planned to use the crib I had from when my girls were little but my daughter wants me to buy a new one with current safety standards. Hmmm… I understand her wanting everything ‘just right’. This is her first baby and she’s the first born herself…very much a type A personality, she’s a lawyer. I think the crib may just be the beginning, lol.