Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June vegetable garden

As I said in a previous post, I've been spending a lot of time out in the garden! Unlike some years, this year I've been keeping up with successive plantings. I replanted spinach and as long as it stays cool for a few more weeks I should get another harvest in! I planted another round of peas, transplanted some more broccoli and cauliflower, and soon I'll plant the warm-weather lettuces. Here's the kale and lettuce bed now:The soybeans and ornamental pumpkins. (These have sprouted since then.)
Tomatoes, peppers and the lone tolatillo that is HUGE! All of these plants are now really taking off, much bigger than shown here. The first round of peas are on the fence around this bed.
The squash and cucumber bed. There are zuchhini and yellow summer squash, blue hubbard, neck pumpkins and waltham butternut. All my tasty edibles! I don't like to mix my ornamental and edibles in the same bed because I've had them cross pollinate before and make NASTY TASTING squash!
Here's an overview of the whole shebang.
An my poo misfit leftovers. I had so many seedlings left over that I put them in whatever containers I could find that were big enough. So I've got eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in the courtyard, mixed in with flowers. Vegetables can be decorative.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lilac tree!

This tree in our backyard has gone misidentified too long. When we first moved in, it was frozen February and we really couldn't tell what was in the yard. But we wanted to start planning the yard and garden so I had a landscape person come out and identify the trees, shrubs and such so we could decide what to keep and what to sack. In the dead of winter, he told us this was an ornamental cherry tree. No, I realized this summer, it is a quite fragrant Japanese tree lilac! How long did I lament that the old lilac to the side of the house did not bloom once spring came around. "I wish I had a lilac!" I would say. You'd also think the smell would have given it away!Now, once it bloomed, I really should have realized that is was NOT an ornamental cherry tree. But that hasn't stopped me from calling it that for the past couple of years! Now does this look like a cherry tree to you?I planted this little bed of hostas and ribbon grass around it's base and it looks quite nice. Now I'll celebrate it, the lilac that I wanted for so long and it was staring me in the face each spring!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


We took a little trip to Springfield, IL to see Lincoln's home, and the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. That place was awesome! I was worried it might be a bit boring but it was really well-designed and really, very interesting. This is me in front of Lincoln's home.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Making seitan

With encouragement from a friend, I made my first batch of homemade seitan! It was so easy and so tasty! My next batch will be breakfast sausage flavored, for tasty breakfast sandwiches AND I love using sausage in my pasta dishes!
First you mush the wet ingredients with the wheat gluten. When it's all mixed together (takes 1 minute, tops) it looks like this, a spongey blob.
Then you wrap it in foil, like so. I am going to make some of the breakfast sausage into little links, wrapped up in foil individually.
After steaming and then baking, it comes out all nice and brown and meat-y!
And here it is sliced up. I like it really thinly sliced. Or chunked up like steak tip-sized pieces for salads and such.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What do you do when your dad dies?

My dad passed away last week. It was both sudden and expected. It was sudden because he had just been diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to his brain about a month ago. But things were already looking grim and progressed rapidly, before long he was in hospice care at home. So now what do I do? The day he died, a very good friend told me to do whatever felt right, what ever I needed to do for me. Not what I thought was normal (cry in bed all day? wear black?) or what someone else told me would help. And that has been invaluable advice. I did a lot of my crying while he was still alive, adjusting to the idea that this was happening. I am thankful for the days when he was still coherent and said what he needed to say and was reassured that he had done his best and that we would be ok. Now that his journey has ended and things have quieted down, what have I been doing?

Whistling-I remember my dad whistling every day. When he was getting ready for work, when he was working in the garage or walking to get the mail. So I'll always whistle and think of Pop.

Eating-Not the best way to cope but I'll admit it, for a few days I ate as a comfort. Dougnuts, pizza, mac and cheese, ice cream. But since then I've been eating more rounded meals. A dear friend brought us a complete summery picnic meal that really brightened up the day!

Eating rhubarb jam-My dad loved rhubarb. Rhubarb pie, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb jam. So I'll always grow rhubarb.

Gardening-I remember my dad seemed to be able to take sweltering temperatures, maybe because he was skinnier than my mom and I it was easier on him. He greatly preferred to be outside even when it seemed FAR too hot to me. So I've been gardening, despite the high temps, not only to stay busy but to experience the heat and remember. The heat and humidity outside is like a comforting blanket. Generally, I'd be sitting in the shade but working up a sweat seems to be what feels best right now. My vegetable garden looks better than it has in years with all the weeding I've been doing. I'll take some pictures to post sometime.

Working-My dad was a hard worker, at home and at his job. I didn't want to take days off from work because I knew I wouldn't know what to do with myself at home. Dad liked to stay busy and so do I. I'm sure to some people it seemed odd to come back so soon but those who know me were not surprised, they knew I would want to keep active and engaged.

Working out-I took a couple of days off from exercise because I got a tetanus shot that made lifting my arm nearly impossible but after that I got back into my routine. I've been known to spontaneously burst into tears during a workout when otherwise my life is peachy. (Endorphins? Stress?) So it wasn't odd for me when in the middle of challenging set of Front Planks With Alternate Reach I burst out into tears. And it felt good.

Sharing corny jokes on Facebook-Some of you might have seen Monday's tribute posts, full of hilarious bad jokes! And lots of my friends shared their own terrible jokes as well. Dad was funny, he had a quirky sense of humor and recited limericks and funny little songs.

Being silent-I've been finding comfort in quiet, mainly outside in the yard or at a park. I can't say I've really been doing any deep thinking, just enjoying scenery and resting my mind. The past few weeks we had SO much to think about, it's nice to just NOT think.

Talking to others about their experiences-I felt so lonely at first because I couldn't think of any of my friends who had lost a parent. One thing that really comforted me early on was when people would share their own experience loosing a parent or just mention that they had. It's terrible to think about but everyone has parents and goes through this at some point. Keeping that in mind (I know, though, what a horrid thought.) really helped me.