Tuesday, October 30, 2012

After the Storm

after sandy, originally uploaded by Bumble Lush.

Thank you, everyone, for your positive thoughts and words about Hurricane Sandy. We are fortunate not to have suffered a loss of power or any property damage from the storm. Our power cables are buried underground, so that helps. The winds were strong and a little scary on Monday night, and the lights flickered a little, but overall, nothing happened. There are leaves all over the street, but no trees fell. The worst that happened was my butterfly bush toppled over. But it needed to be trimmed anyway, so I guess Mother Nature helped me along. Interestingly, the giant sunflower in the raised bed remained intact.

My friends and family in DC/VA/MD were also lucky not to have suffered damage to their homes or power loss. Unfortunately my friends in NY and NJ weren't so lucky. Most have no power and one is stuck in her apartment because the street is flooded. My heart goes out to them and those who suffered worse tragedies. Hopefully the clean up will go smoothly and the weather will be calm for the next few days to help that happen.

I think we're all happy to see Sandy in our rearview mirrors. If you were in Sandy's war path, my thoughts are with you!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricanes, Zombies, and Old Clothes

Cleo checks weather conditions

Along with everyone else along the East Coast, we are awaiting Hurricane Sandy's arrival, and hoping she'll leave quickly and not leave too much mess to clean up. I'm praying that no trees fall down near our house. As of 3:30 today it hasn't started raining yet, which is very good because the Marine Corps Marathon is happening today around DC and Virginia, and the runners probably had enough to worry about with the wind gusts. Not to mention the fact that they had 26.2 miles to run. My friend's husband is running it. They're both serious runners, although I'm not sure that they've ever run a marathon before. Can't wait to see how he did.

Speaking of running--this gets to the "Zombie" portion of my post--Yesterday my husband and I participated in Run For Your Lives, a 5K run/obstacle course through the woods where people dressed as zombies chase you throughout the course. One of my goals for 2012 was to compete in a 5K, so I was able to check that box off in style yesterday! I had so much fun, and I want to do it again next year. In the morning we were zombies. The event coordinators provided professional zombie make-up and shredded clothes and put us in various places along the course to chase the runners. All runners get a belt with 3 flags, and the zombies try to rip the flags off. If you make it to the end with your flags intact, you survive. If they're all gone, you've become infected and are a zombie. We had a 3-hour shift of popping out of bushes and trees and scaring the crap out of people. It was fantastic! After washing off our fake blood and changing into running clothes, we then ran the course later that afternoon. It was a completely different experience and so much fun. The sad part--in a true zombie apocalypse, I'd be zombie bait within minutes. My flags were all gone within the first mile.

Last night was a popular night for Halloween parties, but we were wiped out after the race and didn't go to any. Today is so gloomy, we're just relaxing at home, and planning to grill steaks before the rain really starts.

I'm behind in posting about the SSFC Challenge, which wraps up this week. Here goes:

The most recent challenge was to create an international dish. My favorite cuisines are Mexican, Cuban, and pretty much anything south of the border.


We made ropa vieja, a Cuban shredded beef dish, which literally translated means "old clothes." It's probably my favorite meal ever, and if it's on the menu, I'll be ordering it.

flank steak (Smith Family Farm, VA)
onions (my garden)
peppers (my garden)
crushed tomatoes
Husband's special marinade

So not all ingredients were locally-sourced, but the steak, main ingredient, was. Ropa vieja can be eaten on its own, but I like it with rice. And if I had plantains, I would have fried some up to eat along with it.

Now it's off to refill my wine glass and get cozy in front of the TV. That sums up my weekend. How was yours?
Are you in the Hurricane Zone? Any Halloween plans?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

End of Summer Garden Recap


I realize that I'm talking about the end of Summer while we're well into Fall, but we have had quite a busy last few months. The best news--the new windows are in! They were installed a week earlier than expected, and I can already tell the difference. We have needed new windows for years. The old ones were the crappy builder quality ones. Two had broken seals and moisture had come in. Some didn't close right and you could see gaps (which meant bugs could slither their way in). The screens didn't fit in all of them, so I couldn't open windows to let fresh air in. However, that didn't matter upstairs because all the windows on the top floor were so drafty. That meant that while the temperature was perfectly comfortable downstairs, as soon as you'd walk up the stairs you could feel the cold winter air, and cranking the heat up did not make a difference. In the summer the upstairs was stuffy. Our new windows are the energy efficient kind, and I think we'll see a real difference in our heating and cooling bills over the next year. Actually, I think I can already tell the difference. It's not chilly upstairs, I don't feel the draft when I walk up the stairs, and I have screens that fit so I can actually open windows to let fresh air in without worrying about flies or stink bugs flying in. Life is good.

So, about the garden. The pepper plants are the only thing that made it through the summer with flying colors. The photo above is of habanero peppers, but our 3 bell pepper plants are doing well too. The fruit are small, but it's nice not to have to buy peppers at the store.

Things That Didn't Work

mortgage lifter 8-1
{Mortgage Lifter on August 1}
basil and ML 9-21
{Mortgage Lifter on September 21--dry as a bone}

The Mortgage Lifter tomatoes never did take off. If you remember I posted a Mortgage Lifter SOS back in August because the plants were not producing anything. Actually, that's not true--one plant grew one tomato and that was it. Some suggested giving them an Epsom salt spray, which I did. That, plus the slightly cooler temperatures after the heat wave broke in August, seemed to help the plant that already had a tomato, because many more flowers appeared. Unfortunately, none of those flowers resulted in a tomato. The other plant was sucked dry by a tomato horn work. I came back from Maine to find that plant brown and dry, and Friends, I touched that creepy worm while moving the plant around. I almost died. Anyway, no luck with the ML variety this year. Not sure if I'll try again next year. But, as you can see, the basil has got on smashingly!

corn 8-12
Also, before I left for Maine, this is what the two surviving corn stalks looked like. This was the first time I tried growing corn. They were tasseling and we were looking forward to the home-grown sweet corn later in summer. Alas, we got back from Maine to find both stalks cut down and the corn completely chewed up (by the evil squirrel). Wah-wah.

A Pleasant Surprise


I want to end on a high note.Although squirrels and rabbits dug up all my sunflower seedlings and plants, one sunflower made it!  This is the only picture I managed to take, a little blurry, sorry about that. It attracted lots of bees, unfortunately a little too late in the season to help pollinate my veggies. But it was nice to have a sunny sunflower in my garden. They're my favorite flower, that's why they're on my blog header. Some of the seeds have dropped to the ground and I've seen a few new sunflower volunteers popping up. I doubt they'll make it through the freeze that's coming soon, but I was happy to see at least one sunflower pop up in my garden.

Did your garden have a good summer?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Technology Woes

I've noticed recently that when I leave comments on certain blogs, my comments don't appear in the post. One friend mentioned that on two blogs my comments are going to the spam boxes. I've noticed this seems to only be happening on Wordpress blogs, especially those that require you to log in to comment. So, Garden Friends, I may be leaving comments on your posts, but they are getting composted. (Blogger seems to be OK though). Anyone else experiencing this? Or know if there's anything I can do to fix it?

I know my computer is mocking me. (Also, I don't have a beard).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Checking In...

Source: google.com via Angela on Pinterest

Things have been busy lately, and I've had a hard time keeping up with garden and SSFC posts. Last weekend we went to San Francisco for the wedding of one of my best friends from college. It was great to see so many of my friends all in one place! We all live in different parts of the country, and even though some of our group were missing,  it was so nice to be around people I've known for a long time and who know me well. As much as I like meeting new people, there's something comforting about being around people who know your history already.

Of course, being in California, I got to eat some fantastic locally-sourced food. At my friend's wedding, they served slices of avocado and mango in pieces of endive. I kept flagging the waitresses down so they'd bring the tray of these over (that's what I mean about being around people you're comfortable with).  I have to recreate this for myself, although I know mango and avocado are not going to be locally-sourced here in VA. One of the best parts about being out in northern CA--the wine. While in Napa we went to several wineries and you know the grapes are being grown right in their backyards. Can't get more local than that.

I saw so many cactus and succulent gardens, and so many interesting plants and shrubs that I wish I could grow in my own garden. I have some research to do on that.

Coming up this week--I'm still sorting through wedding pictures to send out to my friends. And we're finally getting new windows for the house! We've needed new windows since we moved in a few years ago, and we're finally getting them installed this week. At some point i hope to find time to update on my gardens and ongoing attempts to eat locally sourced food, but right now a lot of my online time is spent researching jobs and companies. Job hunting is a full-time job, oy!

So for now, off to refill my cup of coffee and get back on the search...