Monthly Archives: April 2015

Neighborhood flowers

grape hyacinths

Grape hyacinths marching across the lawn toward the sidewalk


Violets thriving in a crack on the sidewalk

White daffodils with orange centers

Daffodils standing tall and proud

Purple-blue hyacinths

Hyacinths, a sneaky daffodil, and small blue flowers

Bright pink-red tulips with yellow centers

Early tulips

Fuzzy-looking reddish growths on a tree branch

Some sort of…I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what this tree is growing. Last year I remember it having leaves.

Small pale-green round leaves growing close to the ground, just beginning to open.

I’m not sure what these are going to be either. Right now they remind me of those fish in that game where their mouths open and close and you have to get the fishing pole in and hook them at just the right time.

A tree branch with white flowers

Flowering tree branches

Small pink and blue flowers growing in long grass

Pinks and blues

4/27/15 Edited to add: My cousin informs me that the peculiar reddish puffball things on the tree are the flowers of a red maple; the magnetic-fish-looking ones are sedum; and the small blue flowers are scilla (though they look to me like the flowers on a vinca vine; maybe they’re related?). Thanks, Anne!


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Filed under plants, seasons, spring

Early spring gardening, indoor seedling edition

This is the first year I’ve planted from seeds, and the results are gratifying so far; I planted them last Friday and saw little sprouts begin to emerge in less than a week. The seed packets themselves have lots of information about planting depth and sunlight requirements, but I also found the book Successful Container Gardening to be helpful.

Peat tray, a few rows filled with potting mixThe dryer is near an east-facing window and is a perfect height for planting, as well as an out-of-the-way location for the seedlings to get their start indoors.

Seed packets: sun gold tomato, supersweet 100 tomato, thyme, chives I planted four varieties of tomato seeds – Sun Gold, Supersweet 100, Jelly Bean grape tomatoes, and “Gardener’s Delight” cherry tomatoes – and chives and thyme. I meant to get basil and nasturtium also; I may try to add those soon.

tomato seeds in the palm of a handHere are the tiny tomato seeds.

chive seeds in the palm of a handAnd even tinier chive seeds.

jelly bean red and yellow tomato seedsThe red jelly bean tomato seeds were dyed, but I planted red and yellow together, about three seeds in each little section. The book advised making little holes in the dirt with the tip of a pencil, which worked well.

peat tray with soil and seeds, plastic lid over topHere’s the peat tray all planted with seeds: tomatoes, herbs, and bunny tails (a non-edible grass). The extra green pots also hold thyme seeds, and the extra brown pots hold more chives.

And look! A mere six days after planting…

Bunny Tails sproutingThese are the Bunny Tails. (I’ve very glad I drew a diagram of what I planted where, as the book suggested.)

tomato seedlings sproutingThese are some of the tomato seedlings sprouting. I think if you stood in front of them for an hour you’d actually see them grow.

thyme seedlings sproutingWe won’t be running out of thyme anytime soon! Pun very much intended.

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Recipe Roundup

Turns out you cannot just export an xml file, snip out the bits you don’t want, and import the bits you do – at least, it’s beyond my technical capability and patience at this time. So I won’t be moving the last year or so’s worth of posts from IcyDaylight over here like I intended, but what I will do is gather several posts from the old blog and link to them here, so they come up in a search. Starting with…recipes!

You may notice, as I did, that one category is somewhat more populated than the others.

Breakfast and Breads

Oat Maple Scones (from Deb at Smitten Kitchen)

Cheddar-chive Biscuits (made these for the first time in college. Oh so good. This recipe is from Epicurious)

Vermont Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread (from King Arthur Flour; great for toast or sandwiches)

Pumpkin Muffins (adapted from the Moosewood muffin recipe)

Banana Bread (this is a recipe from home, but it turns out it’s quite close to the one in the book Flour by Joanne Chang)

Apple Berry Crisp (breakfast or dessert, who’s to say?)

Sweet Potato Biscuits (from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

Oatmeal with bananas and berries (plus, kitchen safety tips!)

Bread pudding with fruit in a bowl

Bread pudding with fruit

Bread Pudding (see note to Apple Berry Crisp, above)

Soups and Stews

Simple Onion Barley Soup (my favorite to make when I’m sick)

North African Stew (a book club friend made this adapted recipe, and I’ve made it at least twice since she served it)

Pumpkin Chestnut Soup, Chestnut Soup (variation), Pumpkin-Sweet Potato-Carrot-Chestnut Soup (I make this a lot)

Beer bread in the bread pan with melted butter on top

Beer bread

Potato Leek Soup with Molasses Brown Bread (Beer Bread is also good – arguably, better – with this soup)

Vegetable Sweet Potato Soup with Tomato Base (warm and filling for cold days)

Primary Colors Soup (not really…but peas, carrots, and corn brighten up a chicken and potato soup)

Cock-a-Leekie Soup (of course it’s Scottish, who else would name a soup that?)

Snacks and Appetizers

Beer Croutons (inspired by those at the Draft Barn in Brooklyn)

Kale and Artichoke Dip (the vegetables almost make this healthy)

A bowl of green grapes with chopped mint

Mint grapes

Pear, Fig, and Goat Cheese (not sure how to categorize this…salad?)

Mint Grapes (you don’t even have to click through: just cut green grapes in half and toss them with fresh chopped mint. Delicious addition to summer picnics.)

Main courses and side dishes

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette (from SK)

Vegetable Sushi (more assembly than cooking, strictly speaking)

Couscous salad (includes veggies, nuts, and cheese, and is nice and cool for the summer)

Pesto Pasta Salad (with fresh basil from my herb garden)

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole (PW-inspired, and we’ve improved on this since – think Gruyere and caramelized onions) and Macaroni and Cheese Casserole (variation)

Vegetarian Lasagna (I’ve had this so often I’m startled when I encounter lasagna with meat in it)

Tomato-cucumber salad in a bowl

Israeli salad

Israeli salad (cucumber, tomato, etc.); Israeli salad with fresh-from-the-plant tomatoes

Quiche (it’s okay to go with a store-bought crust. Really.)

Holiday recipes

Latkes (for Hanukkah, or any other time of the year)

Passover Popovers (from King Arthur Flour)

Hamentaschen (for Purim, or whenever)

Spicy Nut Cookies (for Passover, or other times)

Cookies and Desserts

Cinnamon Swirl Cookies (a.k.a. “cinnamon snails”)

Oatmeal Cookies with Apricots (adapted from SK, for those of us who are ambivalent about raisins in our cookies)

Lemon Thumbprint Cookies (lemon curd as a filling for thumbprint cookies, why not?)

Date-orange Oatmeal Bars (they’re on the sweet side, but could be savoried up for breakfast)

A white ramekin with strawberry-rhubarb crisp

Strawberry-rhubarb crisp

Tres Leches Cake (from the Pioneer Woman)

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble (or skip the crumble and spoon the compote over ice cream or yogurt) and Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Cocoa Date Balls (from The Living Kitchen)

Strawberry Shortcake Cake (from the Pioneer Woman)

Cardamom Vanilla Poundcake (from Epicurious)

Peppermint bark (dark chocolate, white chocolate, crushed candy canes)

Peppermint bark

Peppermint Bark (you can buy it from Williams-Sonoma…or you can make it yourself)

Vanilla Roasted Pears (from SK)

Homemade Chocolate (from The Living Kitchen)

Lemon Bars with shortbread base (from Epicurious)

S’mores Cookies (no campfire? no problem.)

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze (from Food52. You’ll need a Bundt pan.)

Brownies from Scratch (for when you run out of the Ghiradelli mix that you buy in bulk from Costco)

A slice of key lime pie with graham cracker crust, topped with a raspberry

Key lime pie with raspberries

Key Lime Pie (three ingredients in the filling, three in the crust. You could not ask for an easier pie recipe. You could almost say it’s a piece of cake…)

Ginger Molasses Cookies with Chestnut Paste (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies)

Snickerdoodles (i.e. the cookie with the best name ever)

Chocolate Chestnut Torte (from Epicurious)

Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt (from PW)


A small mason jar full of water, with strawberry tops floating in it

Strawberry top water

Strawberry Top Water (an idea from C&Z, perfect for summer)

Recipe roundups (several recipes batched together)

Recipe roundup #1: Homemade Applesauce, Purple Plum Torte (from SK), Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies, Beer Bread, Potato Leek Soup, Guinness Ice Cream and Pretzel Cups, Butternut Squash/Spinach/Caramelized Onion/Goat Cheese Casserole, Broccoli and Leek Quiche

Recipe roundup #2 (“a day in the kitchen”): Deviled Eggs, Apple-Rhubarb Compote, Potato Kugel, Kale Chips






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Welcoming spring flowers and houseguests

It’s April! Spring has sprung! By which I mean, temperatures are still mostly in the 30s and 40s, and when it creeps into the 50s it’s usually accompanied by rain or mist. But it’s spring, and here’s proof:

A clump of snowdrops growing at the base of a tree


Purple crocuses, petals closed


My mom was visiting for Passover, so she got to see the spring flowers without having to suffer through the 110 inches of snow. Someone was very excited to greet her favorite houseguest…

Sudo lying on the guest room floor in front of a futon bed

“When is she getting here?”

Sudo sleeping on the bed, head on pillows

“I have to test it out – how else will we know if it’s comfy?”

Sudo lying with her head at the foot of the bed

“It’s just as comfy this way.”

And when Mom left, Sudo took full advantage, burrowing under the covers and sprawling on the pillows.

Sudo on pillows and blankets

“She’s gone, I am bereft, I need pillows to comfort me.”

The seder went well, with good friends and good food and a chaotic retelling of the parts of the story people remembered (we have the Maxwell House haggadahs, not the most comprehensible or up-to-date. Note to self: get new ones before next year).

Seder plate, candles, and small rose bush on dinner table

Sudo did not drink four glasses of wine, but you’d never know it from the way she passed out on the couch after dinner:

Sudo on the couch, completely unaware of the making a really hideous face she's making

Sudo on couch, eyes closed, mouth open; a really truly indescribably stupid face


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First therapy dog visit

In February – blizzardy, blizzardy February (and YES, spellcheck, “blizzardy” is a word, it’s like you’ve never even been to New England. Are you based in San Francisco? I bet you are, and I bet you complain about the “cold” there) – anyway, in February, Sudo was certified as a therapy dog with the organization Dog B.O.N.E.S., and in March we went on our first visit.

Sudo wearing Dog BONES vest

We took Sudo to the Brandeis campus to participate in an event to help the students de-stress a little before midterms. The event was very well organized; the contact person e-mailed us ahead of time with a reminder about the event, directions, information about parking, and a campus map. Fortunately for us, there was an entrance to the building on the same level as the event room, so no need to worry about indoor stairs (the horror!) or an elevator. This also made it easy to take the dogs outside for quick breaks as necessary.


We arrived and were greeted with much excitement by student organizers and other students. It was a nice big room, so the dog/handler teams (there were six of us altogether) had room to spread out. Students clustered around each dog – not crowding, they all had beautiful manners – and no dog was left un-petted. The most common comment we heard was “her coat is so soft!”; I guess she doesn’t look soft from a distance, but she really is quite velvety.

Jenny with Sudo and a student

She remained on her feet and alert for the first half hour or so, then she lay down on the blanket we’d brought for her and people petted her that way. (After all, why stand while people pet you if you could lie down and get just as much attention? Greyhounds have it figured out. Every energy conservation committee should have a greyhound on it.) The students were all appreciative of the visiting dogs; some of them had dogs or other pets at home that they missed, some just liked animals. One mentioned a study she’d read that petting a dog released happy chemicals in the brain (or, as WebMD calls them, “feel-good chemicals”).

Sudo lying down using a stuffed animal for a pillow

It was kind of funny talking to the other dog handlers, some of whom had taken their dogs on four-mile walks that morning in order to make sure they didn’t have too much energy during the event. We, on the other hand, just hoped Sudo could stay awake for two hours.

Sudo naps on the couch in the sunshine at home.

She crashed pretty hard when we got home though. It was a long [two-hour] day at work!


Filed under animals, therapy