What have I been up to this summer?

You may have noticed that I’ve been quiet lately.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy, just the opposite.  So I thought I would take a moment and review where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing over the past months. Continue reading

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Spring harvest time

In between knocking on doors and meeting people in my township, I have been busy in the garden.  Building on lessons learned from last year, I have already had some early successes.  These include lettuce, spinach, radishes, and peas.   I recently started putting in my summer veggies:  tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and green beans.  The longer than usual cool spring weather helped extend the lettuce.  I had so much lettuce I have been giving it away by the armfuls.  The spinach is about done and going to seed, which is good because I need the space for zucchini and cucumbers.  I found a local source for high quality compost, and learned about the value of covering plants, organize means to battling pests, and growing in bags. Continue reading

Traveling in Iceland: food, drink and sleep

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One of the guesthouses we stayed at near Budir in western Iceland.

During our one week vacation in Iceland, we only stayed in an actual hotel once.   That was on our first night in the country.  While often spartan and always unique, we enjoyed the diversity of our bed and breakfast choices.  We ate delicious food and drink everywhere, even in the most isolated places.  By the end of our time we came to appreciate the ubiquitous cod and potato meal, and to yearn for Skyr, a yogurt like dairy product made from whey.  Our trusty guide book pointed us to places where we could get a reliable meal in the most out of the way hamlets.  Continue reading

My one year blog-anniversary

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One year ago I wrote my first blog post.  At that time I was embarking on a new life in a new town.  We had packed up the car with our two dogs, and left DC for Pennsylvania.  How have I spent my first year outside the office?  Well, let me tell you, it hasn’t been boring or mundane.   The journey has begun.

Let me count the ways.

I gained a new appreciation for sitting quietly by my peaceful pond and do nothing.

I put in a backyard garden and understood how hard it was to successfully grow food to feed yourself and your family.

I realized that not only did I not miss getting up every day to dress for the office and embark on the morning commute, but I didn’t miss spending the day in the office and keeping the boss happy.

I cultivated an eye for wildlife all around me:  Mallard ducks and woodpeckers, rabbits and deer and chipmunks and butterflies.  I learned to be patient and wait for them to come out and show themselves.

I got back into the practice of cooking not because I had to but because I wanted to.

I lingered in local shops to get to know strangers who became friends.  I let down my guard and learned that trust is easier than it seems.

I left the house without locking my door and didn’t think twice about it.

My blood pressure went down, way down and stayed low.

I stopped worrying about things that didn’t matter.

What about year two?

Now that I’ve taken a look back, what’s in store for me in the coming year?  One of the things I started with at the beginning of the year was genealogy research.  I started a project of finding out more about my family history just over a year ago.   Then life got in the way, most importantly, both of my parents, who are elderly, began to decline and became more frail.  We had to clear out their house to get it ready to sell.  I found a few of my relatives and connected with my second cousin who live in New Jersey.  My year two plan is to start the work of adding more leaves on the family tree and get it in a form that I can share with my relatives and for those who come behind me.

I want to write more, beyond the format of this blog.

My backyard garden project continues, with failures and successes.  Before the season ends I need to map my garden on paper and catalogue what worked and what didn’t.  Over the winter I will begin the task of planning the garden in a more scientific way, putting planting dates on the calendar, starting seeds indoors, and investigating ways to prevent pests from destroying my zucchini and eggplants.

We have travel plans in the next twelve months and beyond.  I will be blogging about that.

I want to try at least three new things.  Stay tuned!  No, I will not be jumping out of an airplane or bungee jumping.  I will be planting fruit trees, spending more time outdoors, and getting creative.

Want to join me?  What new things do you want to try?

. . . and beetles, oh my!

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In my delight at my vegetable garden success I forgot that when you have a garden you also have some uninvited guests.  These are known as pests.  I put up a fence around the garden to keep the four legged ones out, but it’s impossible to keep out the insects.   Recently I noticed that I have Japanese beetles feasting on the green bean foliage.  At first this didn’t bother me, but lately they have been gobbling up a lot of leaves.  So, I went into action. Continue reading

The green giant, or how many ways can you cook a zucchini?

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As the first of my harvest comes in I am reminded of what it must have been like to live off the land.  In the summer you ate whatever was in season.  You went out to the garden and that was what you ate.  No one at peaches in December or asparagus in September.  For the past week it has been all about zucchini at my house.   Soon it will be something else, and if I’m lucky, an assortment of vegetables.  Unfortunately, when you have one zucchini you have ten.  They don’t cooperate and ripen one at a time.  There is no way I can eat all these veggies, so I am coming up with imaginative ways to eat, store, or repurpose it.   This post is about the green wonder. Continue reading

How does your garden grow?

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Cauliflower in front surrounded by tomatoes plants.

I haven’t written anything about my garden project in a while.  This is part of my push for self-sufficiency and reducing my carbon footprint.  Why drive to the store and buy food that has traveled in a truck or train when you can grow it in the back yard?   Now, if I could only give up chocolate.  Unfortunately you can’t grow that anywhere in my neighborhood.

After weeks of rain, we now have the opposite — long, hot days.  I have to water every evening, carrying my two water cans back and forth to the standpipe to fill them, and then repeat.   I finally got a hose to attach to my existing one to reach the garden, and a spray attachment.  I promised to keep you informed about what was working and what was not.  Mostly, it has been successful, but there have been some challenges and some failures. Continue reading

Spring means it’s time to plant

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Since the weather started to warm up my thoughts have turned to my garden.  I have to admit I’m not much for flowers.    With the deer that come up on my front yard after dark, there’s no point planting anything in the front yard that the deer like.   There are some plants they don’t like:  bleeding hearts, daffodils, lavender, and others.   I found a list of them on a website. Continue reading

Vegetable tagine with friends

Over the weekend we hosted our first dinner party.  Well, not exactly a party in the traditional 1950s sense, but a dinner with friends.   Since I love to eat and I love to cook it was an opportunity to try out something new.   I decided to focus the meal around Turkish food, one of my favorite cuisines.  What’s not to love?  Garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, olives, feta cheese . . . seriously, this is great food.

The lentil soup is already done.

The lentil soup is already done.

I stuck to some old standbys that I knew would come out well.  I started with baba ghanoush and artichoke hummus as starters with pita bread.  For the soup course I made a red lentil and bulgar soup.  For the main course I served zucchini squares and vegetable tagine. Continue reading