Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hurry Ma, Get the Camera

Think of me while on your travels. Keep your camera at the ready and don't forget to drop me a line.

Nothing says: "Having a swell time. Look what you are missing!" like post cards of gargantuan animals.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Live Like You Mean It. Seriously, Stop Foolin' Around.

Traditionally this is a huge weekend for the state's economy. We've got the cheese curd batter beaten, fishing lines baited, antique shops dusted off, and road construction cones pulled to the shoulder for a few days, but sadly, someone forgot to choose a proper slogan. Writing home on a postcard that says "Live Like You Mean It - Wish You Were Here" just ain't right.

Give us back America's Dairyland aka The Vacationer's Paradise,

The Nation's Summer Vacation-land,

The Fisherman's Paradise,

The Badger State,

Escape to Wisconsin, Life's so Good, Stay a Little Longer,

or even the 1985 people's choice, Eat Cheese or Die,

...but please, before the tourists show up, let's rethink "Live Like You Mean It". It's embarassing. I mean it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Down the Garden Path

What delights await us?

Mushrooms of concrete that formerly held up parking posts.

Fond memories of garden parties past in an oversized azure bouquet.

Privacy with a glimpse of life within, and a surreptitious view to the outside world.

And the unique sort of peace that only a garden can provide.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Carol's Garden

Carol has a great eye for garden design and a keen eye for repurposing.

From the junk heap on her father's Iowa farm came wheels, cogs, pipes, rods and all variety of implement parts that she envisioned as yard art.

Carol's dad taught her son to weld and he helped his mom create her sculpture-garden-within-a-garden of amazing flowers made from those found farm relics.

In addition to owning the title of implement yard art innovator Carol is indisputably the queen of tasteful bowling ball decorating. Can you spy them?

A curve in the path. What lies around the bend?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Approved by the Postmaster General and Martha

I think I swiped this idea from Martha.

My mail/toolbox makes me so happy that I don't even mind giving her the credit. Going all the way into the toolshed to get supplies is a dangerous and scary venture (Spiders, and chipmunks, and rake tines, oh my!) so I am glad to have my most used tools in an easily accessible spot. It was the best $1.50 ever spent at an estate sale.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Keep Your Fingers Crossed

It's too soon to say for sure...

but, Clara Marie may not have made it through the winter.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's a Miracle

Believe it or not, these...

will become these.

It's gonna take me a few days to wrassle the dahlia tubers into a plantable state. I know already that I'll have some to give away. Takers?

Friday, May 21, 2010

P.S. I Love You

When you've got a teenager who sleeps past noon at every opportunity it is likely you will often be leaving the house before he is even conscious. The typical scenario is as follows: Just when you are ready to walk out the door you remember that the least you can do to parent your sleeping beauty is to leave a note with information about your general whereabouts so that if you don't turn up within the 72 hours it takes for him to run out of milk and notice you are gone, he will know approximately where to search for you so that he can ask you when you plan to resupply the frig.

However, by the time you have this realization that a note would be a nice mommy courtesy (and in fact the same courtesy you request he show you) your hands are full of purse, keys, coffee cup, reusable grocery bags, sunglasses, coupons, gloves, etc. Setting all that down to find pen and paper is a major setback to your exit strategy.

So, one day when you are in bathroom-cleaning-avoidance-mode you fool around with the Hallmark software that you usually forget you have and create a fetching little flipbook of reusable notes that can be set in place with a single free finger as you juggle all your stuff, slip into your shoes, and open the door with your elbow to begin the day's activities.

When you return home you ask the teen how he likes the wonderful, new, colorful, clever, highly efficient note-leaving-system. When he simultaneously shrugs, rolls his eyes, and mumbles incoherently you realize 1) he hasn't even noticed you were ever gone and 2) he never saw the note as he spread the comics page over it while eating his Captain Crunch for lunch at 1:00 p.m.

Well, it's still the right thing to do.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter

The name alone was enough to sell me on this heirloom tomato. The colorful story of how it got that name is a bonus.

The following history from Local Harvest is based on Jeff McCormack's transcript of the 1985 taped interview with M.C. Byles and his grandson.

M.C. Byles was affectionately known as "Radiator Charlie." He earned that nickname during his ownership of the radiator-repair business that he opened at the foot of a mountain where trucks climbing the steep mountain grade would often overheat. Radiator Charlie had no formal education, or plant breeding experience, yet he created his now legendary tomato by cross-breeding 4 of the largest-fruited tomatoes he could find: German Johnson, Beefsteak, an Italian variety, and an English variety. After Charlie developed this large tasty tomato he sold plants for $1.00 each (in the 1940's) and paid off the $6,000 mortgage on his house in 6 years, largely through the sale of his tomato plants.

How exactly did he do this you ask? More details of the story from Slow Food USA: Charlie took 10 tomatoes and put them in a circle with a German Johnson (Okay, who else just thought "tee hee"?) tomato in the center. He collected pollen from the 10 outer tomatoes in a baby’s ear syringe and then squirted it on the flowers of the German Johnson (TMI). After seven years he had a stable tomato with the qualities he wanted.

You are invited to check out the progress of Mortgage Lifter and German Johnson in my community garden plot this summer. If you see any tomato hanky-panky going on just look the other way. I'm gonna need a new car in about 7 years.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Hostest with the Mostest

Now here's some pressure to perform.

Expectations for thoughtful hospitality have risen above providing the cute little bar of soap and fresh handtowel. When spiffing up the loo before entertaining the competetive hostess must now add artful TP presentation to the to-do list.

How about orange... shows off toilet paper origami here. "... just imagine all the joy you could spread during your countless opportunities to do this. Leave a surprise in the bathroom of your dinner party host. (No! I mean a nice surprise.) Or delight the next visitor who enters that public restroom stall. In just 60 seconds, you can make someone else's life worth living." - How about orange...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Life is Messy. Wear Your Apron.

Hey, we have cute aprons. Let's go cook something yummy.

I hate her cutesy tic-tac-toe hotpads, her stupid tuna casserole, and her guts.

What happened to change these happy apron-wearing little girls into miserable apron-wearing women?

Does the brunette covet more from the blonde than her red apron? Her place in the coffee klatch pecking order? Her husband? Her joie de vivre?

Did they finally figure out it's more fun when you are just pretending to play house?

Or did it all change when they moved to Stepford?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Can it Really be that Easy?

Purchased for a dollar at a weekend estate sale.

I guess it's worth a try.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Pond

It is pleasant to sit by the pond, which is nicely full from recent rains, and watch our backyard friends come to drink, bathe, or swim. Visitors include chipmunks, squirrels, dragonflies, many kinds of birds, and the odd frog or toad. Amazingly, only one child has ever fallen in. After seeing he was wet and shocked, but fine, his mother laughed her butt off. Of course the male child "meant to do that".
Despite the occasional cocktail hour weeding around the drink (pun intended) session, and precarious maneuvers to fiddle around with pump maintenance, as of yet, no adults have taken the plunge. I of course pray that the camera is near at hand when someone finally does.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Good Cop/Bad Cop?

We can do this the hard way, or we can do it the easy way.

Mr. Muscle - "We know you ate your lunch with muddy hands. Those cuticles are disgusting and you're a filthy pig. You didn't even use the nail brush, did you?"

Fairy - "I know you didn't mean to skip washing your hands before lunch. It was a mistake, right? Just tell me how it happened."

Our intrepid UK correspondent found and photographed this classic example of good cop/bad cop in the archaeologists' clean-up shack at the Roman fort site, Vindolanda, in Hexham, England.

Good cop/bad cop, known in British military circles as Mutt and Jeff (from an American newspaper comic strip of that name) and also called joint questioning and friend and foe, is a psychological tactic used for interrogation.

'Good cop/bad cop' tactics involves a team of two interrogators who take apparently opposing approaches to the subject. The interrogators may interview the subject alternately or may confront the subject at the same time.

The 'bad cop' takes an aggressive, negative stance towards the subject, making blatant accusations, derogatory comments, threats, and in general creating antipathy between the subject and himself. This sets the stage for the 'good cop' to act sympathetically: appearing supportive, understanding, in general showing sympathy for the subject. The good cop will also defend the subject from the bad cop. The subject may feel he can cooperate with the good cop out of trust and/or fear of the bad cop. He may then seek protection by and trust the good cop and tell him the needed information. - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If I ever meet these two I'm calling my attorney, Bon Ami, before I say a thing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Olive You Too

You get invited to an impromptu neighborhood get-together starting in ten minutes. Or...

You just remembered you promised to take something to a friend's party, your ride is on the way, and you haven't even showered yet. Or...

You are famished and disheveled and feel like having a little nosh on the patio after a productive day of gardening, but you do maintain some minimum standards for how you look in public.

Running to the store is not an option. What to do?

Get out the food processor. Open the frig. Find every delicious salty thing you have. Put it in the food processor in quantities that make sense. Add some herbs from the cupboard or garden. Add some olive oil. Pulse it. Scrape it in a bowl. Grab the crackers. Go.

Call it Olive Tapenade or Olive Salsa or just call it yummy.

Here's what went into this batch:

Stuffed green olives
Ripe olives
Kalamata olives
Roasted red peppers
Garlic chives
Olive oil

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just Cook It

Finally, empowerment for cooking great Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens (Suggested subtitle - Aga, we don't need no stinkin' Aga), thanks to author Jennifer Schaertl.

The sample recipes accompanying the book review look great. I am thinking the Bloody Mary Relish may be my signature potluck/sideyard cocktail hour contribution this summer. Dibs! I called it.