Archive for September, 2011

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picking tomatillos

Friday, September 30th, 2011

I cannot believe that today is the last day of September. Wow. I also can’t believe that the garden is still going. I am just now starting to pick tomatillos!

tomatillo plant

Here is what the tomatillo plant looked like in mid-summer.

tomatillo plant

And now there are little hanging tomatillo lanterns with a tart green fruit inside.

I have been combing through cookbooks and websites to try to find fun tomatillo recipes. And I think tomorrow I am going to try for a tomatillo chicken stew.

tomatillo

I just think tomatillos are so elegant looking.

So fall is definitely here, but we are still having some fantastic warm temps in the 70s. I have been outside running or walking almost every night for the past 3 weeks. And we’ve also gotten our fair share of rain over the past weeks as well, which has greatly helped with growing grass. And now the tomatillos are ripe and ready to be picked. My own little fall harvest.

The garden is still doing its thing, and I take great comfort in that. It greatly helps with my denial that fall is here and that it is pitch black out by 7 p.m.
For reals.

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Posted in The Daily Balance, The Growing Season | 3 Comments »

so many tomatoes, so little time

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

What have I been doing lately? Picking and eating tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes from our tomato raised garden bed.
tomato bed

And when I’m not doing that, I am watering the lawn (it’s that time of year again… the fall grass-growing project is in full effect!) And when I am not doing that, I am working. And then running. And then sleeping.

Yup, my schedule is pretty defined these days. We are two weeks into the lawn watering, so next week will ease up and I will be able to reclaim 2 whole hours of my day. I CANNOT WAIT!

But back to tomatoes. Their time is going to wind down very soon when frost comes, but so far we have had only one night when I had to cover the tomato plants with sheets. Otherwise, the temps are still fairly warm and humid here in Southern NH for early fall. So we continue to pick!
green tomatoes

japanese black trifele

Just waiting...

mortgage lifter

Mortgage lifter heirloom

orange grape

Orange grape tomatoes

romas

Ripening romas

Here is a sampling of tomatoes picked over the last few weeks:
heirloom tomatoes

heirloom tomatoes

heirloom tomatoes

heirloom tomatoes

Cannot get enough tomatoes! In tomato love.

Off to peruse the garden on this lovely, warm, and finally sunny Sunday. Tomato recipes and ideas coming soon…

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Posted in The Growing Season | 17 Comments »

tomato basil mozzarella salad

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

No shortage of tomatoes going on around here. We are eating them all the time. I love all the different types of tomatoes we are growing, including several varieties of heirlooms. One of my very favorite dishes is a simple tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad.

tomato basil mozzarella salad

It is so easy to make. Slice up whatever tomatoes you have on hand. I have been using combinations of yellow pear, orange grape, mortgage lifter heirloom, and japanese black trifele heirloom. Gently toss with some good-quality organic extra virgin olive oil, a dash of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and freshly chopped basil.

fresh basil

Potted basil plants on our front stoop.

Add some pearl-sized fresh mozzarella balls and gently combine.
tomato basil mozzarella salad

And you are done. A great end-of-summer side dish. Also fantastic on top of a garden salad or as a bread topper.

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, The Growing Season | 1 Comment »

introducing lily… our new cat!

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

We did it! We finally did it… we are proud cat owners! Lily has officially been a part of our family now since the middle of August, which explains a good part of my writing absence. It’s been nearly a month of playing and loving our new cat who has irrevocably warmed our hearts and changed our household for the better.

lily snoozing

Here is the story of Lily and how she came into our lives.

At the end of May, my friend Melissa’s Mom and her friends found a stray cat in a window well outside a home in their development. And this cat was not alone. She had just given birth to two kitties. As in literally given birth… like that morning.
lily and kitties

Not knowing what to do, Melissa’s Mom called her, and Melissa and my older sister volunteered to come rescue the cats on a temporary basis. Melissa took the pic above. After Melissa brought the cats home to her house, she called the local animal shelter to ask them what to do about the cats. They told her that if she brought them in to the shelter, the kittens would likely be separated from the Mama. Melissa and my sister did not want that to happen. They wanted Lily (still nameless) to be able to nurse her brand new baby kitties in peace and quiet and comfort.

So Melissa decided to take them all in and keep them in her basement where they would be safe.
baby kittens

Melissa and my sister took the cats to the vet to be checked out, and they took turns watching out for the Mama and the kitties while they were adjusting to a new space. When Melissa went on vacation for a week, my sister called me to ask if Craig and I wanted to come over and visit the kitties while my sister was going over to change the litter box, etc. We said sure!
lily nursing

We had never been around kitties so tiny. We had never seen a nursing Mama cat. And we couldn’t believe how loving and gentle and friendly she was toward strangers. Melissa and her Mom inquired all around to find out if the cat belonged to anyone. But it appeared that she had been on her own in the “wild” for some time. The vet estimated the Mama to be just about 2 years old. Mama and the babies all had worms. Which is pretty typical. And Mama even had giardia. Icky.

I was so taken with her on that very first visit that I went back over in the same week to visit again. And on that second visit, I just felt this unbelievable urge to have that cat in my life. The energy and loving vibes she gave off were so powerful. She was just beautiful. I loved her short tabby coat, long tail, and athletic body. I always felt like a cat would come into my life somehow, and I felt like this was the cat.

However, I was under the impression that Melissa was planning to keep her. And I was pretty bummed out because I kinda wanted this Mama cat realllll bad. I told Craig what I was thinking, and he was totally down with the idea. This all happened on a Friday. Melissa came home from vacation on that Sunday, and she was talking to my sister on the phone and told her that she and her husband had indeed talked about keeping the Mama, but that they already had two cats and didn’t think they should take on a third.

My sister told Melissa that Craig and I were definitely interested in adopting the Mama! And Melissa said YES!

She told my sister that her family had been calling the Mama cat Lily. But Craig and I could rename her and Melissa would start using that name. Craig and I thought about it and decided Lily was the perfect name for her. Her markings are kind of wild and exotic like a tiger lily. And at the exact time that I realized I had fallen in love with her, my lilies were in full bloom in my garden out front. It just made sense to me.

Melissa agreed to keep Lily and her babies together in her basement and foster them all until the kittens (a boy and a girl) were done nursing. It was the nicest, most amazing gesture. Especially since Craig and I were about to leave for a two-week vacation up at a lake in Maine. So we went over and visited Lily all the time, and then left for two weeks.

Gulp.

When we returned, Melissa sent me a pic of Lily having put on more weight and getting healthier. And she said that by the week’s end Lily would be done nursing for good and we could bring her home.
Lily kitty

So we raced around the rest of that week getting all the cat essentials we would need: a litter box, food, a few toys, etc. We set up a little space for Lily in our basement with her litter box in the nook right under our stairs. Not lavish, but cozy enough.
pine litter box

We picked Lily up on a Friday night after work, and it was so hard to finally separate her from her kitties. We were nervous to bring her home. What if she hated us? What if she hid under the bed for two weeks? I had read all sort of things about how cats can have a hard time adjusting to change and that they can get very stressed out.

Well, when we got home we brought her cat carrier down to the basement. We opened up the door and out she came. She sniffed around the litter box area. I showed her the food and water bowls. We sat quietly with her in the basement. She sniffed us and walked around. And she purred. This went on for less than maybe 10 minutes before she climbed up the basement stairs, stepped right through the cat door at the basement door at the top like a pro, and ventured on into the kitchen, living room, and everywhere else.

Like she owned the place!

And it’s basically been that way ever since.
Lily snoozing

Lily loves to hang out and snooze in the sunlight on our living room floor. She loves her cat mat that we bought that has catnip in in. She loves her toys. She loves sitting in the window sills looking out on the garden. Lily has so quickly become this amazing part of our every day. She just fits in.
Lily in the living room

Lily loves attention. Loves to be petted, and petted, and petted some more. And she loves kids. Not afraid of them whatsoever.

Lily and friend

Lily and my nephew having a chat.

So yeah, coming home from work is a lot more fun when you have a cat waiting for you who just wants to play. I find myself creeping up to bed earlier at night to read because Lily loves to lie with me and snuggle in.

The other great part of this story? My older sister adopted the kitties. Their names are Daisy and Lucky.
kitties

Daisy is the “dirty” white one with a ringed tail and pointed ears. Lucky is a tabby like his Mama. And they are adorable and curious and friendly and lovey, too.
kitties

kitties

kitties

It makes me so happy to know that Lily and her babies are safe and loved and all close by.

So that is the story of how Lily came into our lives.

It has been two weeks now since we had her spayed, and she is all healed up and having a blast.
cat in the bag

Oh yes… the bonus? Lily doesn’t attack my houseplants. She will occasionally bat around an aloe stem, but otherwise she’s pretty uninterested. Yeah!

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Posted in The Daily Balance | 11 Comments »

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