The first harvest of our container garden was of the green onions/scallions. The were delicious in a scramble, and also on top of chicken tortilla soup. Very excited about everything growing.
And also very happy to have made a new friend. This lovely ladybug (are male ladybugs offended by their name?) is sitting on our cucumber leaf, but has been seen for a few weeks now, travelling between the tomato plants, cucumber plant, and even the marigolds. I like the fact that I am able to provide it with good nourishment – a rich diet of white flies and aphids.
Simple field daffodil arrangement. Learned that all Narcissus species are poisonous since they contain the toxic crystalline alkaloid lycorine in the bulb, and sometimes leaves as well, which can be confused with onion bulbs and consumed. Eeep! Note to self – remember to separate onions from flowers.
I think that it must be my mother who instilled this deep love of flowers in me. I like all flowers, especially the little seedlings who emerge triumphantly in the spring. I get deeply excited seeing their arrival.
I got a bunch of magenta-violet tulips from our friend who came over for dinner this week. It feels so nice to receive flowers. They make me feel happier just looking at them over my computer screen. And tulips are lovely as they elegantly open up. I think they are a bit underrated in the market place, next to the roses. I like tulips much better than roses.
I bought a large box of basil a couple of weekends ago, and have used it to make pesto a couple of times, and a salad. However, understandably, there was a small handful that was left over even after many uses. In an effort to use all of the food I buy, I put the herbs I get in a small, simple Ikea vase with some water, to make them last longer. For most herbs (dill, basil, cilantro) this helps lengthen their time with me. However, I have found that some are not so excited about the prospect of living in water (most prominently, sage). Anyway, I left my basil in water, and did not pay much attention to it during the week. A couple of days ago, as I went to check on the water level, I noticed little roots. First, I was excited, since this meant I may be able to plant the basil. (Although, I have already started little seedlings of basil my mom sent me last summer.) But after thinking it over, I decided to see how long the roots would get before the basil started to go bad. So I took a picture today, and will update as things progress.
Mike asked me recently why I had cut up our soap bar. My response was that this is what my family did, and I left it at that. However, while washing potting soil off of my hands today, I noticed how convenient the smaller size of soap was. Silly, I know, but I would like to think we overlook the simple things sometimes, and repeat tasks out of habit. I wonder how many other things I do out of habit? I hope the rest of my habits are as harmless as cutting bars of soap.
I made tapioca pudding for an early brunch today. I did not have breakfast so I was super hungry. I had never tasted tapioca but it seems rather mild, natural in flavor. I used honey and milk to boil it, and then added some rose water once it was finished. The pistachios were a later reminder (after one ramekin was already safely tucked away in my belly). I am not sure if I would like to use tapioca in pies, as suggested on the box though. Something about the texture is a little off, so a whole slice of pie tasting like this…maybe sometime down the road. Otherwise, the taste is pretty decent. Although, I must note, that it does fill you up, and once I was done with one ramekin, I felt like I could not eat anything else for a long time.
In other news, the container garden is looking healthy and thriving. I have finally gotten rid of the aphids, thanks to an organic spray from Home Depot, which does not harm the plant (which means no more throwing herbs out!). The tomato plants produced their first crop of two whole tomatoes the size of an apricot. I was not sure how big they would be, but seeing the results, they could have come out far worse. The taste is almost like a cross between a cherry tomato and an heirloom. I wish that there were more prospects being produced, but alas, the plants are all filled with lots of flowers for now. I am hoping the heat will become more manageable and thus the plants will start growing. The heirloom peppers have flowers, which is great since all I thought I would see this year were the small green leaves. I am really hoping to get purple peppers, but any color would be fine really, since it would save me a dollar per pepper. The herbs are fantastic, and I made pesto last week in order to trim down the basil plants. The heirloom basil tastes really sweet, and the purple basil is almost too pretty to eat. Almost. I am really looking forward to reading a gardening book for our area, and how to deal with plant diseases and also insects. The season is not even over, and I would like to see how the plants do this year before starting anything other crops.
I signed up to do more than I could handle. I know, I know – I am so bad. As if studying and work and home were not enough, I also took on tasks of reading a rather large list of books, and crafting, and letter writing, and cooking from a professional book. I just piled it on, like I always do. And this left me somewhat unsatisfied in the long run. Sure, I would achieve momentary satisfaction from a snazzy letter, or the compliments of a well baked cookie, but I was (am?) tired and grumpy and felt like an old maid who wanted to interaction with neither sleep or people (did anyone watch the movie with Bette Davis?). I blame TV for most of my slouching, and the hot weather. I blame everything else except me.
Despite all of this, I have managed to actually do some work. My tomato plants have grown from flower to plant now, and I could not be more excited to see them grow each day. I know it is horrible to compare this process to a living animal or worse, baby, but this is the closest I have. I watched them flower, and then slowly drop a tiny tomato, which is now on its way to a full beauty. I feel proud, kind of like a parent, watching them grow. And the rest of the container garden is going well, with herbs sometimes growing out of control. I think I have definetly learned some lessons about bugs and plants and soil. I am ready for my big girl garden now.
And…surprise! I got another orchid to add to my two. This one has lots of blooms and great (read, even) stature, which means I do not have to wrestle trying to water it. Itcsits on the fireplace next to Aristotle, who was rather lonely, I think. Have I mentioned that I dress up our statues of Aristotle and Homer, for the seasons, of course. I think it’s only proper to keep them looking good.
And I have been cooking. I shall keep the disasters (albeit, they are few) for another time, but am proud to be making pizzas and quiches now. I even made a lemon jam stuffed braided bread, which turned out pretty great. Although I do enjoy cooking and baking, it was a pain to get the mixing done by hand…until I got this nifty gadget for my birthday! Mike bought me the Vitamix that I have always wanted/needed/dreamed of/couldn’t afford. It sits next to the KitchenAid, and over the weekend, quenched a large number of thirty, nay parched, throats with pina coladas and daquaris at a party. And today I made a decent gazpacho with some fresh Sun Gold cherry tomatoes from the store. I found them on sale and it was like a lightbulb went off, kind of like in the movies. I knew then and there I was making the Keller gazpacho soup. Now I just hope it tastes good. If only I could have the same epiphany about the okra from the farmers market, and the duck that has been occupying the freezer for quite some time now. Hmmm…
So these are the adventures of late. No, don’t make me tell you about my dirty spending habit. I have none, I shall not succumb to the pressure….argh! Since Borders is closing (all jokes aside, I was very sad when I heard about it and remember even maybe shedding a tear or two – mostly for the downtown Ann Arbor store), I felt it was only right to go and save the books. Yes, I am a patron saint of books, a title no one can deny. And let me back up and note that it was not as if I did not go to Borders to begin with, just now I have more of a reason. So I went on the first day and bought a rather large, heavy, and very expensive cookbook (no naming). Then went again with Michael, and we came home with some cards and a few books (really! only one or two!). We were doing well, our habit aside, we had housed some great titles. And then last night, we got the kick. I will not say how much, but a rather large amount was spent on books of philosophy, some history, and a lot of Russian literature. I literally printed out my Amazon wish list and went shopping. Now, not all books were present (who reads Berberova anymore, right?) in store, and some were still way more than Amazon (hey! I have to save for school!), but I did my duty and we came home with an arm full. I think I will wait to go again, but I do hope that no one else wants to read quality books and that I will have my pickings when the final days come along. In reality, I wish I could buy all of the books and create my own library. I know that as a child, many people thought of escaping the world and entering the one of their books, but I still dream of that. More on this later, as I could go on.
And most of all, in great news lately, I had my birthday. I was rather sad the week or two beforehand, as I was truly convinced in a Dorian Gray way that I was old, and youth was escaping me, and all the silly things that the book makes you paranoid about. Perhaps not a great idea to read it before your birthday and then have someone note that you are now a part of a century old. Nonetheless, these thoughts about my futile future were soon gone as my family came to town. I was very happy to see them, and realized just how much I miss them. It is rather strange what one gets used to, and how quickly the feeling of nostalgia and homesickness comes back rushing. I rather teary eyed all day when they left. Oh yes, I was saying about my birthday now (very egotistical today, notice?)…I had a great time. The finale was a wonderful surprise party, that Mike had pulled off with my mom. I was surprised, honored, excited, and just in awe the whole evening. In my little girl world, I love surprise parties and flowers, but to see it in real life…let’s say I felt as sick as a small puppy with excitement.
And everyone was so nice, family and friends gave me some great gifts. Each more thoughtful than the next, like these books (love Paris! and cooking!) and the great little black purse. It goes with all of my evening dresses. Love it! Love you! Thank you!!!
I must return to work now. I hope to update more often (haven’t you heard this before?). What an odd note to end on.