Friday, July 31, 2015

Gardening Wins and Losses

 

 

 

The beginning of August and hotter days without much of a break can bring a quick end to a flower garden's lushness and growth. Some flowers just don't like the heat, no matter how often you water them. I already have a few early blooming perennials that need cutting back and my hanging basket of pink petunias is getting that leggy look that late in the season petunias tend to have. But, many are still blooming and loving the sun and my frequent watering.

 

 

After losing a patch of Black Eyed Susans last year for a mysterious reason I still don't understand, I babied these new plants ever since I planted them in late May. They have rewarded me with lots of flowers and are my favorite blooms at the moment.

 

 

The vincas planted around a tree in the front are thriving in the morning sun and frequent watering by the sprinklers. They can take the heat as long as they are established and watered daily.

 

 

The cosmos I planted in the ground in my perennial bed are looking so pretty and rewarding me with continuous blooms. Others, I planted in pots, are barely blooming. I will remember that next year.

 

 

I adore the zinnias I have planted in several different pots. I have found that getting them off the ground does a better job at keeping away the bugs. They give me many new blooms and I use them for bouquets.

Other losses include my clematis which never bloomed and some sweet pea that will be moved from the shade, to a sunnier spot next spring. Every growing season there is something new to learn and that's what makes gardening so fun.

 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Simple Blueberry Peach Jam

 

 

 

Making homemade jam with summertime fruit could not be any easier. I love to buy my fruit from my city's Farmer's Market, but if I can't make it there, my locally owned grocery store has amazing locally grown fruits and vegetables too. On my last trip, I bought beautiful blueberries and peaches, both for enjoying as a snack and for making some scrumptious jam.

 

 

My method is foolproof and needs no pectin added for thickening. I have made all flavors of jam with this recipe and even use frozen fruit in the dead of winter, when fresh is only a memory. If you have some fresh fruit and 40 minutes to stir a pot, you will have 2 delicious jars of jam before you know it. I use Ball brand, 2 cup plastic freezer jars and use one right away and freeze the other for later. I found them in the canning section of my grocery store and no sterilization is needed.

Here is the simple recipe that can be adapted for any fruit.

 

2 cups blueberries

2 cups peaches ( peeled and chopped)

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 T lemon juice

1/4 cup water

 

Put all ingredients in a large, heavy pan and bring to a boil, stirring often. Continue to cook at a rolling boil for 40 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Mixture will reduce and thicken close to the 40 minute mark and that is when you know it is done. Spoon carefully (very hot) into freezer jars and let cool completely before putting on lids. Freeze one jar and enjoy the other right away. Enjoy!

 

{Linking with these friends}

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Gooseberry Patch

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Sunny Simple Life

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

No Minimalist Here

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

 

 

 

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Change of Direction

 

 

My summer reading has taken a change of direction so far. I'm not sure what leads me to the books I read, but this summer, I have been reading some fabulous non fiction. I will return to my favorite authors, but for now am enjoying a different kind of pace and a different kind of storytelling.

 

 

First up was a book that has been on my reading list for over a year. I had read fabulous reviews of this book, especially from other bloggers. And, it lived up to every expectation and even exceeded them. Bread and Wine is a journal of sorts; one that through storytelling tells the author's relationship with food. At the heart of the book is her need to nurture through food and the simple act of sitting around the dinner table. There are stories of family dinners, elaborate parties and wonderful food memories from vacations. Many stories are tied to the author's faith, but in a subtle way. Each story is also tied to a specific recipe, that is included at the end of the chapter. As the title page states; it is a love letter to life around the table.

 

 

Next, was a lighter and less thought provoking read, but interesting none the less. Driving With the Saudis is the story of a down and out Hollywood actress that through circumstance, becomes the only female driver for the Saudi royal family on an extended visit to Beverly Hills. It is a fascinating story of privilege, excess and cultural differences told from an outsider's point of view. If you like reality television, this is similar, in that it is a peek behind the curtain of an affluent lifestyle that isn't always as pretty as it seems.

 

 

Finally, while this book is not truly non fiction, it is of a style that weaves historically accurate details with fictional dialogue to tell the story of a real person. House of Hawthorne joins the list of books I have enjoyed telling the story of the women behind the lives of famous men. Since The Scarlett Letter is a favorite of mine, I was especially interested to see the atmosphere in which it was written. As is the theme in many of these books, living with a creative genius is difficult and challenging for the women who loved them. Perhaps the most fascinating, is the poverty in which these artists lived while writing and longing for success.

Happy reading and happy Monday!

 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Farmer's Market Dinner

 

 

 

 

My city's farmer's market is usually held on Saturdays and it can get quite busy and crowded. It is fun to go, because there is music and a lot of activity, but it can be a little hectic, rather than relaxing. I was excited to see that the farmer's market was now open on Tuesday afternoons as well and was happy to see it was busy, but much less so than on Saturdays.

 

 

 

The colorful and fresh veggies are always such a pretty sight and I love walking around and deciding what to bring home. These farmers have their marketing skills on display, with pretty tablecloths on their tables and the veggies portioned in cute baskets.

 

 

The farmer's market also had in season fruit - cherries, blueberries and some early peaches. To tempt even further, there was cheese, baked goods ( I bought some yummy whole grain bread) and fresh honey.

Fresh produce always brings back memories of the big garden my parents used to have and the dinners filled with vegetables cooked simply, but so delicious. Last night I cooked a meatless dinner from the veggies I purchased and it was the best meal I have had in a while. There is definitely a difference between the farmer's market veggies and those from the grocery store.

I made yellow squash, sautéed in a little olive oil and onions and green beans with baby redskin potatoes, boiled with a bit of butter and turkey bacon - just like my mother used to do it, but with a healthier twist; less butter, salt and turkey bacon instead of the real kind. Still fresh tasting and oh so delicious.

Happy Thursday!

 

Linking with Savvy Southern Style

 

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