Gardening Adventures: Tomato Babies! Chipmunk Babies!

Normally we wait until Memorial Day weekend to plant the tomato babies, as I call them, but with the unusually warm temps it was safe to plant them this past weekend. We decided it was a good value to spend $65 to have the many bags of soil delivered to save wear and tear on Wayne’s back. This summer will be the greatest amount of tomato plants we’re growing: 26 of them! Besides the Lemon Boys we have Black Cherry, Yellow Pear, Roma, Cherokee Purple, Carolina Gold and Supersonic. In addition to the two raised beds we have ten containers spread out on our deck and behind our house. I’m looking forward to a fun growing season and this weekend didn’t disappoint.

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When Life Hands You Lemon Boys

My adventures in securing potted annual flowers and tomato plants, with Lemon Boys being the most desired began early this morning. It’s strange seeing how much has changed since I was out and about a year ago. For example, a century old church was razed and there is a new apartment building being constructed. Marijuana dispensaries with names like House of Hash (Maine legalized marijuana) have popped up near the mall/big box store area where I was headed. The super friendly and helpful older lady who has worked the cash register at the Big Box plant nursery for over twenty years is no longer working there, and the two younger replacements weren’t helpful. No one knew where the tomato plants were but I finally found three sad ones on mostly empty shelves. I knew I was done with that place. The nice lady was the only reason why I still went in the past. Since the pandemic I’m less tolerant of things that wear and tear on my psyche. Bye bye Big Box store! I did notice some pretty, low priced hanging flowering plants on my way out, though. Not for me, I’m done, so over that chain of questionable repute. Onward!

But I knew what that meant. I’d have to go to the very nice locally owned nursery with the horrifying chaotic overcrowded narrow parking lot situation where I once almost got run over by an elderly lady on a moped.

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Out Picking Again!

For the first time in a year I went to the outdoor flea market and indoor antique shops. It feels so good to be able to go out picking things other than the dandelions from my front yard!

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Enjoying the Best from 2020

I know I said my little series about how I decided to go to college in New England and not New York would be coming up next, but I’ve decided to make it “soon”. I like to intersperse my more essay-oriented posts with snippets of joy and photos.

Tonight we’re having the last batch of the heirloom sauce I made from the tomatoes in our garden. If you’re interested I posted the recipe here. There is (almost) NOTHING better than homegrown tomatoes. I honestly can taste all of the sweet memories of last summer and early fall. When your food is picked fresh it also still has much of the life force within it. If that sounds kooky just try some and I bet you’ll experience what I mean. Plus they’re loaded with love!

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Happy Easter!

I just put out the crystal candelabra and tulips along with the glazed strawberry pudding cake I made this morning. It’s still cold in the sunroom right now but it will reach the 70s by noon when I’ll finish setting the table for our Easter luncheon. I’ll keep the cake refrigerated until then; I just wanted to show it to you because there’s a secret I’ll share!

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Valentine’s Day Cake & Amarena Cherry Mocktails

We had my Valentine’s cake for lunch and my Valentine loves it! I’m really happy since I had never baked with beet juice before so I had no idea what the result would be. I’m also glad to have discovered Fabbri Amerena cherries which was a direct result of my planning for this cake when I was doing an ingredient search for delectable red edibles. Since we don’t consume alcohol it’s wonderful to find something that can turn a simple sparkling water beverage into a sophisticated mocktail in addition to making a dessert shine.

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Hot and Steamy Valentine’s Day Preparations

I’ve just set the table for Valentine’s Day weekend (we can stretch that day out!) after I ironed a vintage red and white gingham linen tablecloth. I enjoy ironing old linens and the sound of the steam, it’s relaxing. I’ll be pairing red-colored cake decorations that are absent of artificial coloring: ruby chocolate and wild Italian cherries that come in a beautiful ceramic jar I plan to save and reuse. This morning I crafted my recipe for our Valentine cake that will use organic beet juice for coloring the batter. I’ve also been admiring some old Valentines…

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In Defense of “Cottagecore” (aka Simple Living & Homemaking)

Oh dear. Simple, beautiful living is being pathologized by the media, natch. Granted, Instagram influencers can take an authentic way of life and turn it into an unattainable aesthetic which is part of their charm, I suppose, for those who find that aspirational. #cottagecore, which I had never heard of before until this morning when I read this CNN article, “Cottagecore has us yearning for a bygone era that never was” that prompted this blog post, is once such ideal. Apparently much of the way I’ve been living since I left NYC in 1985 (as well as millions of people without hashtags) share a lot of the cottagecore values. I do live in a cottage with two acres of woods, for starters!

Here’s the problem with the critics: They embrace a toxic “ideal” that’s out of touch with a healthy reality while denouncing simple living as being irresponsible and a form of cowardly retreat:

As much as a life filled with gallivanting across the countryside picking berries and baking scones might sound ideal, most people have responsibilities at home.

OK, rant on:

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Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Oven Roasted Rebel Chicken

Pictured is the dinner I made last night and it was outstanding! The breast meat was exceptionally tasty and tender as were the legs. The carrot’s sweetness was enhanced and the potatoes were soft and rich. As a bonus there was a nice pan gravy to pour over it all. I used a 4 1/2 pound LaBelle-Patrimoine Heritage chicken, organic carrots and organic yellow potatoes roasted in a vintage 13″ cast iron skillet. The chicken did not come trussed (legs tied together) and I didn’t have any twine on hand so I decided to wing it and prepare the bird in her un-lady like position. This ending up working to my advantage and you’ll see why in my recipe I’m sharing with you here.

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