Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Days of Tomatoes

The rain has been wonderful for the garden, but terrible for going out picking! Over the past two days, I've picked an overflowing basket of tomatoes.
Because of this overabundance, I've been getting creative with cooking. Yesterday I made a cheddar omlete with tomatoes and this morning I made a goat cheese omlete with tomatoes (pictured below).
Thursday night I watched a preview viewing of Julie and Julia, which is based on the book of the same name by blogger Julie Powell, who spent an entire year cooking though Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogging about it. The film alternated between Julie's (played by Amy Adams) life and that of Julia Child's (Merle Streep, because, ya know, who else could pull that one off!) life in France. It was a truely hilarious and touching film. Nora Ephron did a fabulous job at the screenplay and directing. Since then, I have been putting way too much butter in the pan to cook the eggs. You know what? They've been the best and most beautiful omletes I've ever made in my life! Vive le beurre!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rainy days (thank you, thank you, thank you!)

The rainy days have actually made me long for my newly acquired outdoor furniture. My mom has this crazy thing about changing stuff out every few years in my patio (it could also be that I happen to buy crappy stuff, so it needs to be changed every once in a while!). The way she sees it, its like buying a new comforter for your bed- don't just change the sheets, change the curtains and rugs as well. Hence, cushions were bought as well...all on sale, thank goodness!

This set of chairs and the table were actually at one time on my Mom's front porch. They've been sitting in the bamboo jungle (aka, Mom's backyard) for over a year, just collecting vines.

The table and chairs are all new, as well as the umbrella (ya know, "curtains."). I love sitting out there now. Surprisingly, under the umbrella I can work on my laptop without the glare I had before.
Love it, love it, love it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Sauce

The tomatoes are finally coming into their own and I have way too many of them! I've decided to make some tomato sauce from the recipe found in Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:

10 quarts Tomato Puree (about 30 lbs tomatoes)
4 Large Onions, Chopped
1 Cup dried Basil
1/2 Cup Honey
4 Tbs. dried Oregano
3 Tbs. Salt
2 Tbs. Ground Lemon Peel
2 Tbs. Thyme
2 Tbs. Garlic Powder
2 Tbs. Dried Parsley
2 tsps. Pepper
2 tsps. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Soften Onions in a heavy 3 gallon pot. Add small amount of water if necessary, but no oil. Add pureed tomatoes and all seasonings. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 2 to 3 hours, until sauce is thickened, as desired. Stir frequently, especially at end, to avoid buring. Freeze leftovers in easy to use containers.

First, part of the ingredients: Tomatoes (10 lbs worth in the large gray bowl, and onions from my garden) I had to do a 1/3rd of the recipe because it calls for 30 lbs!!!

I chopped everything up, putting the tomatoes in the food processor, then got them going on the stove, with a few dried herbs added (can you believe that cinnamon is an ingredient in tomato sauce!?!). It started out
The end result was a nice, lovely red with a deep, rich flavor. Very much unlike any tomato sauce I've ever tasted.
It made up 10 1.75 cup containers and 2 2.5 containers full of sauce, all nicely stored in the freezer, ready to pour over pasta or to make pizza whenever I want! Yum! I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

4th of July weekend- What I did...

My 4th of July was very productive! I made these lovely blueberry muffins...
I took several pictures of Gabby with my sunflowers...
I proved to myself that I could draw facial features...
And cut them out...
Then glue them together to make monster masks for my Youth Services class.
Cute, huh?
I also made delicious hamburgers for dinner that night, but we were so hungry that no pictures were taken of them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My garden attacked me and the dogs fought back

Sunday night, after my great mowing and weed eating extravaganza of the back yard, I sat the sprinkler out in the herb garden, then took a shower. I went back out, in nightie and flip flops, to move the water. What I thought would be a simple task turned into a muddy nightmare! The trusty flip flops caught on the low fencing and I fell, face forward, into the garden. My left knee was attacked by a decorative mushroom when I landed. I'm telling you, it has taken me a few days to get over the trauma of it all!!!

Now, here are the pictures of the aftermath... the fence is bent and the devious mushroom is impacted about 3 inches into the ground.

Bent fence, but still keeps out the dogs and cats (don't ask me how, they could all jump it if they wanted to!)

Bruised and swollen above the right knee... no clue what I hit with it!

A nice, swollen goose-egg bruise on the left knee, thanks to the mushroom.

Ruby is very concerned...

Henry is ready for revenge (actually, he was just in the process of barking, but I couldn't resist the pic!)
I decided the fighting wasn't worth it, put the water in the garden again and sat back, relaxing with an adult beverage (mmm, Rahr Red Rocks!!!), a YA novel, and my IPod.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Library, San Antonio, and HEAT...

Okay, so maybe I won't have time to update my blog every few days...but at least I have an excuse!

The week after school got out, a group of boys decided that it would be a great idea to break into the school and break a bunch of windows. They made it to the library and found plenty more to damage than just windows...

This first picture is one of the 16 ft. window panels knocked out. They broke three of these, mostly by throwing the wonderful 1960s era wooden library chairs out the windows (they found about 10 chairs in the courtyard).

They then took the 10 freestanding bookshelves and decided to see if they would fall like dominoes if they pushed one set over from one end. They would and all the books came out as they did it.

The biographies made it to the floor as well by kicking them through from one end to the other side.

Luckily, the wonderful people at Library Media came to box up books with me that Wednesday. Even the Director of Library Services was there boxing up. It took 5 of us all day to box up about 6,000 books.

The reason for the boxing up is that all of the bigwigs from the Administration building came and saw not only the damage, but also the fact that the carpet was hideous! New carpet was laid last week!

I then left that Saturday for my mini-vacation to San Antonio. It was much needed after a week of working in the library! Ahhh...lovely flowers (this is a perennial hibiscus).
That Sunday we went to Boerne (pronounced like "Bernie") and did a bit of shopping. This is their gorgeous library...I wonder if they need a teen librarian?

After briefly shopping (bought 3 hankies and a set of 4 cloth cocktail napkins), we drove off towards New Braunfuls to visit Dry Comal Creek Vineyards.
Ahhh, the barrels...
Ahh, the grapes...
Ahhh, the vineyard...
We also went to Shiner to visit the Spoetzl Brewery, where we went on a tour, saw bottling, and did a bit of sampling, but I did not take pictures!!! Too much drink and not enough click.
We got back on Tuesday afternoon and, since then, it has been hot...damn hot (1oo+). So hot, dogs and cats have begun sleeping together...
Drying racks are out (I bought another one of these at IKEA on our way back home!). The clothes are drying on the rack before the next load is done. It's that hot.

The tomatoes are doing well, though. This is one of my Cherokee Purples
Obviously, this is a Green Zebra...
A real Italian Heirloom...

A fake Italian Heirloom (looks more like a Roma to me, but is on the IH side!)

The big bed with Sunflowers and inverted tomato cages. I am working on doing bamboo teepee stakes, but it just isn't happening very fast. I only have 35 plants to stake up, so I don't know what my problem is...
The little bed with Austin Red Pear, Tomatillos, and onions

The white onions are finally growing larger than green onion size!

Meyer lemons are healthy.

The dwarf fig is growing, but no figs yet!

And finally...the blueberry seems happy!
Well, that's it for now. Another post sometime this week may happen. I'm working on grad school stuff, but hopefully it will not keep me away from the fun stuff!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Last Official Day of School

Today was the last day for teachers. That doesn't mean that I am completely finished, though. I still have paperwork to finish up and a deep need to clean up the back storage room and my office. I'm pretty well finished, though.

One of the things I would like to start my official day of summer off with is to create a summer plan. Right now, the plan is to finally get my house and yard in order. I even want to finish out the lower patio, so I need to get working on this first thing tomorrow morning! I'll take some before pictures to get a good idea of where it all started! So...this means I cannot be lazy this summer. I also have two of my last three graduate school courses to take. One of them is HTML, so I should have a really awesome blog by the time I'm finished!

First thing tomorrow...weed the upper patio and edge the curb at my house and Mom's!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Seriously? Really?... While I've been away...

There is a lot of catching up to do on this blog! First off, in an attempt to get healthier by exercising, I decided to finally get that bike I was lusting after at Christmas. Mom and I set out one weekend (before Mother's Day...) to find it. We knew we were going to probably search several stores to find the right one, but when we arrived at the first Wal-, Mom found that she really liked this one blue bike in particular.

So she got it for Mother's Day (despite the fact I gave her a nice gift in New York!!!). I added the basket because, well, it just makes it look cuter! Hmm... this still left me bike less, though. We searched all weekend to find my pretty red Schwinn, but could not find it anywhere! Several of those Wal- stores had a place holder for it, but no actual bike. After Three days of searching Wal- stores, I finally gave up and ordered one online.

It arrived 4 days later. Turns out that the Wal- store do not put bikes together when they are ordered and shipped to the store, so my lovely, already-has-a-bike Mom, called up the store begging to have them put it together for me because she was afraid that I'd kill myself because I left a part or two off. Now I am the proud owner of....

A Red Schwinn...

With a big butt seat (um...because I have a big butt?)

And this morning, I put the basket on it. The lovely Mom then said it looked just like Pee-Wee Herman's bike. Not sure, but I think that might have been a compliment. I think it looks like the Fat Tire bike, myself. Ok, now I want a beer!
On the gardening front this year, I decided to build raised beds in my driveway. At first I was going to use wood to border them, but then I remembered that Mom had some red scalloped border from her former flowerbeds she had in the front. I'm all about the recycling, so here we go...

First, I laid out the black tarp and then dug in the compost pile and was able to harvest a meager amount of dirt before giving up and buying soil.
I did go for the organic Miracle Grow stuff, though, so it wasn't like I went all chemically on the garden (but that stuff sure does smell non-organic...I may need to research their claims a bit closer later!).
I realized I was going to need so much more soil than I thought. Since my seedlings pretty much all got steamed while I was off in NYC, I sewed the tomato seeds directly into the ground.
They came up! I transplanted some of them this morning to make them less concentrated and filling in the blank spots, so hopefully those will survive. The sunflower from last year spread its seed on its own and have created a border on the north end of the bed. I hope they don't shade the garden too much, or I'll have to chop them down.

I didn't have enough room for all of the tomatoes to go into the tomato bed, so the tomatillos and Red Pear ended up the centerpieces of the onion bed. I picked one white onion today, but it seems to be in the green onion stage right now. I'll keep checking on them.
So much has kept me busy and tired this spring that I am sad to say that this is as far as I've gotten in the garden this year. Hopefully some of my seeds that I haven't planted yet will become late summer, early fall veggies. I do have some work cut out for me on that, though.

This evening I hope to feel well enough to mow and build my tomato cages. If I do, I will certainly come back tomorrow and post pictures!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Posts...Maybe!

Okay, so I've taken a severely long hiatus since Earth Hour. It looks as if I just turned it all off and never turned it back on!

This week I am home due to the H1N1 Influenza, aka, SWINE FLU. The schools are all closed and I have had lots of time to finish up my grad school work for the semester. It is amazing how much time I can actually use for grad school when I have that time.

One more assignment to do and then I'll come on here and post like a mad woman.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Earth Hour this Saturday

Don't forget- this Saturday is Earth Hour. I will be turning everything off from 8:30-9:30pm CST, so don't try to call me. I won't answer!

Official Earth Hour Poster- © Shepard Fairey

More information can be found at:

The Angry Clouds...

It definitely looks like a big storm is brewing. These pictures were taken from the windows of my library.