Saturday, June 30, 2012

Everything's Peachy

No fruit is more beautiful than a peach (in my opinion). So when they come into season each year I want to eat them as often as possible. These beauties were grown in a large commercial orchard no more than 20 miles from where I live. 

The only thing better than the looks of a perfect peach is when you sink your teeth into one.

These are ready for lunch today at my mother's house. I bought fresh corn, okra and tomatoes at  the Saturday morning farmer's market in our town. My sister is preparing those fresh vegetables, plus speckled butter beans from the freezer. Sliced fresh tomatoes with basil, fried okra and corn on the cob. A summer feast.

A fella from our town goes over to the orchard and brings peaches to our town to sell from the back of his truck. The price for this basket is normally $15. Since it was the end of the day, and he was ready to leave and get in out of the heat, he let my husband have this basket, plus a few more he threw in for good measure, for $10. A very good deal.

What is your favorite fruit? Other than eating it fresh, do you have special ways you prepare it? I'm thinking of using some of these for peach ice cream.

I won't be outdoors today; the temperature is supposed to reach 106 F., with a heat index of about 115 F. I'll be inside eating peaches!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Funnies

There are so many clever people out there! I had never heard of "Aunty Acid" until I received some of her humor in an e-mail message. "She" has her own Facebook page, as you can see from each cartoon below.

If you're up for a laugh, or at least a smile, here are a few to slide into the weekend with.

Wishing you all a happy and restful weekend and stay cool, stay warm, stay dry, stay safe -- depending on where you live.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday This and That

It's time to cut hydrangeas for drying for fall and winter arrangements. When they start changing colors -- mine start turning from blue to slightly green -- you simply cut them and place in vases without water. If they were ready, they will keep their shape. These are just the old-time Nikko Blue.There's another way to preserve these flowers so that they take on a "leathery" feel. That method is done with glycerin and my sister and I are researching how to do that method of preserving.

I decided to cut fresh herbs to make a blend that's very good for mixing with olive oil for bread. Here, I have the beginning of a small batch consisting of thyme, rosemary, oregano and chives. I chopped and added dried parsley (would have added fresh, but rabbits got all mine this year!), minced garlic, red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper. This mixture needs refrigeration.

 Finished and ready to store in the refrigerator.

It tastes almost like the one I buy at the store for $6! And every bit as good.

For a healthy lunch today I prepared a salad consisting of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, scallions, black beans, black olives, avocado, poached egg, chopped basil, lemon juice and garlic-flavored vinegar. I am a believer in the Meditterean way of eating!

Water tastes even better with mint ice cubes and poured into a pretty stemmed glass.

Ah, what says summer better than a refreshing slice of watermelon?

I don't think I've reported in the blog the latest on Mommie Sox. As you know, she was living at the barn with her five kittens -- now three months old. Two weeks ago Sox was in for spaying and I brought her to house to recover.She has been living happily in a secluded room in the basement. She was very quiet the first week and I don't think the dogs knew of her presence. She's feeling much better now and Kris is definitely wise to her being there. He whines when I go downstairs to attend to her needs. He ordinarily goes with me to the basement each time I go (as he follows every step I make). Valerie, another story. She has NEVER gone downstairs; we have tried for three years to entice her but she will not. She apparently had some bad experience in her past with steps, or a basement, or something. 

But back to Sox. We have decided to make a house cat of her. She is the absolute sweetest kitty I have ever known. She appears perfectly happy to be inside. I am still working on a plan to introduce her to the dogs. More on that as the plan develops.

And the kittens don't appear to miss her either! The strange ways of animals.

Isn't she pretty?

I'll close out this mish-mash of subjects today by showing a few skin care products I love.

1. Clarins Huile Orchidee Bleue Face Treatment Oil - I use it about three times a week as a night moisturizer. Good for dehydrated skin. Smells divine.

2. Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil.

3. Argan Oil - To condition the hair, but I use it as a foot massage; also good for dry skin.

4. Evian Affinity Holiday Skin Tan and Tone - I'm not a big fan of self-tanning products, but this gives just a hint of color, nothing drastic, plus it's a great moisturizer.

5. Elizabeth Arden Peel and Reveal facial mask - Use two or three times a week.

6. Evian facial spray - Great for hot summer days. I keep one in my handbag.

7. Dr. Tichenor's peppermint mouthwash concentrate - Love peppermint mouthwash and this is the best.

8. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse - plant oils and Vitamin E. For some reason, this looks good on days you don't want to use a foundation. Gives your skin a glow.

9. Clarins Body Treatment Oil, "Relax." 100% plant extracts; use after shower. Smell of essential oills - so nice!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coffee in Helsinki, Dinner at Home

After a full day in Helsinki with Mette, Ida, MrsLittleJeans, coffeeaddict,
Patricia, seeyouthere, Kathy Peck, Sulky Kitten, LCP, Patricia J., Susan Partlan, Jacqueline and J.W., just a short note for tonight. Sorry His Way or Her Way could not attend.

Thanks, all of you, for a really fun visit. You looked stunning in the outfits 
you chose. You are an extremely fashionable and beautiful group of ladies.
Ida, you were so nice to bring Veuve Cliquot, but I just read that Mette was forced to return home via taxi! Oh, and Valerie and Kris so enjoyed getting to know your lovely dogs and they thank you for the treats and gifts!

I realize that most of the bloggers hitched a ride home on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s plane, but I decided to return home on my own to make dinner for my husband. So glad I made that decision, as Mette informs that Hillary is going to make a stop in St. Petersburg before returning to the States.

Home by mid-afternoon, I had time for a quick rest before deciding on the dinner menu. Grilled boneless chicken breasts slathered with John Boy and Billy Grilling Sauce (hot); rice; zucchini sticks and a tomato-based sauce for the rice.

I found the zucchini sticks recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to try it while I have zucchini from the potager garden. This recipe is quite good; will definitely try it again (recipe below). The tomato sauce was made yesterday from vegetables from the garden (tomato, zucchini, bell pepper, plus onion and garlic). I cooked it thinking it would become spaghetti sauce, but then it looked so tempting as a way to dress up the rice.

Crispy Zucchini Sticks – from Pinterest via My Daily Randomness

1 large, fresh zucchini, cut into sticks
1 egg
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp pizza sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray
3. Dredge zucchini sticks in egg, then bread crumbs, then place on baking sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes until outside is crispy.
5. Serve hot with pizza sauce for dipping.

 I can never leave a recipe along, so I sprinkled the zucchini liberaly with parmesan cheese before baking. I think that gave it added zest!

I'll be anxious to hear from the other bloggers what it was like to be with Mrs. Clinton on the plane and what they thought of St. Petersburg!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet Me In Helsinki

I announced to my husband that I'd been invited out for coffee tomorrow. "Oh," he replied, "where are you going?"

"Helsinki," I said.


"Yep, that's the one!"

"Do you need me to take you to the airport?" he asked as he checked the time on his phone. " It's 3 p.m. here, which means it's already about 9 p.m. there, so you had better hurry up if you expect to be there in time for coffee tomorrow."

"Not to worry," I said. "No packing, no airline reservations, no taxis, no passport, no money involved. I'm traveling there via the magic of the Internet, to join my blogging friend Mette, who's invited followers of her blog for coffee and chat at the Cafe Aalto in Helsinki."

And I have accepted her invitation! She showed us pictures of what she'll be wearing, so I had to hurry and choose my wardrobe. Oh, I do hope what I have selected is appropriate for the outing.

Hmmm. A LBD is always good for any occasion, so I think I'll slip into this one. From Talbots, bought last year, but not worn yet. This will be the perfect time to debut it.

Mette said the temperature there will be around 20 C., or 68 F. Wow, what a welcome relief from this heat! However, I think I'll need a jacket, as I tend to get chilled in air-conditioned spaces, so I've chosen this Jones New York knit cardigan from the closet.


These Ralph Lauren patent slings should work OK with the outfit and will be comfortable. Perhaps there'll be time for lunch, a bit of sightseeing and shopping before I return. I've never been to Finland and I really look forward to this experience. I've heard Finland is a beautiful country and the people there are so nice and helpful to visitors. I can't wait!

I'll take my new Brahmin handbag and tie a jaunty scarf on the handle.

My jewelry choices include this watch:

My wedding band:

My mother's 50th wedding anniversary ring, which she has given me and that I wear almost every day:

And as always, (well, almost always, unless I wear other pearl earrings, or some fun costume pair) my pearl stud earrings:

Now Mette has said she's bringing her dog Morty along. Alors, I must bring Val and Kris as well. What a fun time they will have! They will love meeting Morty. My dogs have never traveled this far from home, and have certainly never been allowed to enter a cafe here at home.

I see I have to give them a good brushing tonight; no time for a bath. I thought we ought to do at least something special for them so I am trying out a few scarfs to dress them up a bit:

Oops, Kris' tail got in the top picture of Val!

Wow, I can hardly wait. I'm really looking forward to meeting Mette and see what all the other bloggers are wearing for this special outing.

See you there!

And be sure to check out Mette's blog to see what everyone else is wearing for this special occasion!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Going with the Flow

Today was another hot (100 degrees F.) and dry (no rain in two weeks) day in North Alabama. It’s enough to make a gardener weep!
I got up early to get three watering hoses going; walked the dogs; made a milk delivery to the kittens at the barn; gathered a small bounty from the potager garden; did my 30-minute walk, and was finished by 8:30. It was time to seek the comfort of the air-conditioned house and map out the remainder of the day.

I gathered enough basil to make a small batch of pesto.

I had a few Roma and grape tomatoes cucumbers, two bell peppers, a zucchini ready for gathering. Spaghetti sauce? More cucumber and lemon water?

A few sprigs of mint for ice cubes. Love using these in iced tea.

The hydrangea blooms are ready for cutting for drying.

I made a healthy lunch of Couscous with raw vegetables -- carrots, cucumber, green onions, tomato, black beans, black and green olives, chopped basil with a splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I just made up the recipe. Quick and easy; no cooking except the Couscous (5 minutes). I love eating healthy food such as this!

Time to catch up on the blogs I regularly follow on the iPad.

It was not perhaps a really productive day. I did a few house chores, dealt with stacks of mail, read awhile. I am giving myself the week to establish a rhythm of how I want to organize my days.
Tomorrow's forecast: "Only" 89 degrees. That will be a treat after 100!

This is Peacock Gladolius, bulbs planted in a pot in the spring and now beginning to bloom. This is my first try with this flower and I bought it because it's fragrant. There are two blooms and I'm hoping for more. The picture was made using the camera on the iPad -- my first try on that camera.

How's the weather where you live? Right now I'd love to be in Maine, or Canada or England -- anywhere it's cool and damp!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Refreshing Drink for a Hot Summer Day

Outside the thermometer reads 101 degrees so it's time to make a great summer drink: Cooling and refreshing Cucumber Water with Lemon and Mint.

I started making this summer drink last year, and today seemed the perfect day to make a pitcher, particularly since my cucumber vines are beginning to reward me.

The recipe is very simple: Slice one cucumber and one lemon and place in a half-gallon pitcher of water. Add mint (this was my touch; the recipe doesn’t call for mint). Leave in the refrigerator overnight and it’s ready. I add ice to begin so I can begin sipping right away and I try to drink all of it in one day.

I have read that, over and above the cooling and refreshing aspects of the drink, there are health benefits associated with cucumber water. For instance, both lemon and cucumber juice contain many of the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to function. They are also versatile in how they can be used to help treat a number of ailments.

As the flavor of the cucumber enters the water, some of the cucumber's nutrients also enter the water. The longer the cucumber floats in the water, the more flavor and nutrients enter the water, explains Barbara Mendez, a master's-level nutritional consultant in New York City. Nutrients provided by the cucumber include but are not limited to vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, calcium, vitamin K and potassium. The amount of these nutrients you get from cucumber water depends on how much cucumber you use in the water and whether you eat the cucumber slice after drinking the water. The more cucumber you use, the more nutrients you receive.

Discard any unused water after two days to keep your beverage tasting fresh.

So go ahead and cool off! Minimal calories, nutritional benefits and most of all, it tastes so very good and is so simple to make. And with more hot days ahead, I know I'll be making a pitcher each day!

If you try it, let me know what you think.  

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