Category Archives: seasons

New recipe and mid-summer garden update

My friend Lauren is an accomplished and adventurous cook, and after trying the dal she made, I was emboldened to try it myself. It’s a very easy recipe from Oh She Glows, it just required a few ingredients we don’t regularly have in the pantry. I used broccoli, sweet potato, and tofu for the veggies, and left out the minced onion and the garnish (lime juice and cilantro).

IMG_20180714_132631As for the garden…I can’t believe I haven’t updated here since Memorial Day weekend! Since then, the calibrochoa has sprawled beautifully. Next spring, I’ll be a little more intentional with my annuals; I loved last year’s combination of Icelandic poppies, calibrochoa, verbena, and lobelia – maybe with some snapdragons too. (The marigolds are bright and healthy but don’t seem to be doing much to keep the critters away.)

IMG_20180629_082506The strawberries came and went – we had the last of them in early July. Next year perhaps I’ll make room for them in my raised bed; I think they might have been crowded in the hanging baskets, and definitely in the (alleged) strawberry pot. The raspberries came in nicely – I was so excited to have any! Only a few canes produced but they are so delicious. The blueberries are ripening too, and I expect the first ones will be ready later this month and into August.


IMG_20180620_083441The Wando shelling peas are the surprise hit of the summer – everyone loved them, even the toddler! I’ll do more of these next year, and prioritize them a bit more. They all came in over the course of a week or two, but they were great. I’m not sure what happened with the sweet peas, but I’ll try them again next year too. (And maybe nasturtiums in the hanging baskets, instead of the strawberries.)

Of the six pumpkin plants I put in the ground, four seem to have disappeared entirely and two are thriving hugely, with plenty of big yellow flowers. No sign of any actual pumpkins yet.


IMG_20180711_162837The sunflowers indeed disliked being transplanted (as it said on the packet); I don’t think I’ll bother with them again next year. The wildflowers, however, have just started popping in the last week or two, and it’s a pretty mix. More wildflowers next year!

The tomato plants are enormous – the raised bed is like a jungle. I’ve harvested the basil in there twice already, and now I think it’s crowded out. Next year I’ll plant it around the edges instead of between the rows of tomatoes, and probably should plant fewer tomato plants as well. I’ve talked with a neighbor about sharing seeds next spring, which should help. I find it so difficult to thin the plants when I’m supposed to! Anyway, the tomatoes are still mostly green now, but there are going to be LOTS…if we can keep the squirrels away.



Above, clockwise from top left: daylily (they were here when we moved in), rose campion (transplanted from my mom’s place), calla lily (previously mis-identified as lily of the valley; it spent the winter in the basement); new balloon flower; filling the watering can at the rain barrel.



Filed under food, gardening, recipes, summer

What we’ve read so far, 2 years 8 months

This month we’ve been getting out several books by a few authors. I don’t remember having a lot of awareness, when I was really little, that authors and illustrators created books, and that if I liked one of theirs, I should search out the others – not until grade school at least.

But with this awareness, I can choose batches of books to bring home and we can enjoy the creations of Molly Idle, Il Sung Na, Kaya Doi, Anna Dewdney, Greg Foley, Zachariah Ohora, and Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak.

Pictured above:
Chirri & Chirra by Kaya Doi
Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
Niblet & Ralph by Zachariah Ohora
Thank You Bear by Greg Foley
Little Bear’s Visit by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Flora & the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa by Anna Dewdney
The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na

Now that she has the patience, attention, and interest to sit through some of the longer books, we might try Frog & Toad too – some friends have been telling us about it for ages. I hadn’t picked it up yet because I remember being dead bored by the Wind in the Willows as a kid, but it turns out that they are two separate things and I only conflated them in my mind. Sorry, Arthur Lobel! And anyway – every book its reader, every reader their book.


Signed up for summer reading at the library!

Leave a comment

Filed under baby, books, summer

Early summer cooking

Deviled eggs: The America’s Test Kitchen recipe for hard-boiled eggs has never failed me. For the fillings, I used the egg yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and some chopped fresh rosemary, with a little paprika on top. I would’ve used soy sauce but we were out.

Radish top pesto: Got some radishes at the farmers’ market and made the greens into pesto, along with a couple of handfuls of basil from the garden, a clove of garlic, olive oil, walnuts, and parmesan cheese. (Ate the radishes themselves on bread with butter.)

Veggie dal: a friend made this (from Oh She Glows) and I can’t wait to try it out at home. It was surprisingly mild – I think she went easy on us, as we are not spice-loving people – and delicious over quinoa.

Couscous with a fried egg on top: still enjoying this “chef’s snack” when it’s hot out and I need to throw a meal together quickly.

IMG_20180619_173443Strawberry shortcake: We got a quart of incredible strawberries at Wilson Farm’s strawberry festival, and spooned them over shortcake, with home-made whipped cream. Perfect summer dessert. My own strawberries are doing pretty well too – and the nets covering the plants mean that we get to eat most of them, instead of them going to the birds.

Popcorn Cookies: Oh, Deb, I just don’t know how to quit you. This is from one of the Smitten Kitchen books and isn’t on her blog. It was one of her most straightforward recipes, and turned out the way it was supposed to, but I think I’d rather have popcorn and cookies, separately. (Or, you know, at the same time, but not in the same item.)

What are your favorite summer recipes?


1 Comment

Filed under food, recipes, summer

Spring gardening: Starting seeds


Page from When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes: “A seed will start growing.”


Grow cube from Gale: “Cultivate Community”

There may still be plenty of snow on the ground, but it’s the perfect time (actually, maybe a tiny bit late) to start seeds indoors! Today, we went to the garden center to pick up reusable plastic trays with peat pellets, and planted lots of seeds: “Jack O’ Lantern” pumpkins from Plimouth Plantation, sweet basil (previous year’s seeds, so we’ll see how many germinate), and four types of tomato (Sun Gold, Chocolate Cherry, Ace 55, and Irish Glacier). We also planted some marigold seeds in a “grow cube” (also peat) that I got at the Public Library Association conference last week – a rather unusual but much appreciated giveaway from a vendor.

The seed trays are upstairs in front of one of our few south-facing windows, with a grow light for extra rays, and a squirt bottle nearby to keep them moist. It will be exciting to see them start to sprout in about a week.


Squirt. Bottle.


Seed tray with tomato varieties

Outside, I’m keeping an eye out for shoots coming up from bulbs we planted last fall. Some poked up before the last big blizzard, but the temperature hasn’t dipped too far below freezing, so I hope they’ll be okay: we planted daffodils, narcissus, grape hyacinth (muscari), and tulips.


From When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes: “Spring can come quickly or slowly. It changes its mind a lot.”

1 Comment

Filed under gardening, seasons, spring

Snow day


“It’s snowing EVERYWHERE!”

Blizzard in March? This kid doesn’t mind.


Filed under kid, seasons, winter

Summer gardening, end of July

Once the heavy work of spring is done, gardening is mostly moving things around and weeding. The rhododendrons I disliked so much have been re-homed, and I hope their new owner enjoys them. In their place, I planted the three abbotswood shrubs, and they seem to be doing well so far.

Abbotswood shrubs and cedar mulch

I added some cedar mulch, which makes it look nicer and will hopefully keep the weeds down, and just today I moved the tomato buckets from the back fence to the front – the squirrels and/or birds had been stealing the tomatoes even before they ripened. I did get two sungolds and one sweet 100, and they were delicious…but I was hoping for more. Next year, I may set up a trellis behind the shrubs, or plant some sunflowers – something with some height to cover the cinder blocks.

Sweet pea teepeeThe sweet pea teepee is coming along beautifully, though no scented blossoms yet. None of the sweet peas I planted directly in the ground did very well.

I had collected the potted herbs on a shelf I could see from the kitchen window, but they needed more sun. I moved the shelf to the front porch, and the basil, thyme, rosemary, and parsley seem to be thriving in the extra sunlight.

Despite dire warnings about the invasive properties of mint, I went ahead and planted my sweet mint and chocolate mint directly in the ground along the back fence, after weeding, adding some new soil, and putting in a brick border (the house’s previous owners had left a pile of bricks in the basement). I moved the lavender there too, along with a new lavender plant and an allium purchased at the same time as the abbotswood. The two sage plants are there as well; sage is hardy so I hope it will survive the winter.

Back fence with brick border

Lavender and allium

A friend brought a yellow calla lily as a housewarming gift, and I planted it in a part-sun, part-shade area, where it seems to be doing well. I had initially planted a hydrangea on the opposite side of the yard, where we’d pulled out a small dead evergreen, but moved it to join the calla lily. There were already several daylilies growing there; I don’t think they get enough sun, so some are quite small and haven’t bloomed, but others are doing all right, and I don’t have anywhere sunnier that I want to move them.

Daylily, calla lily, hydrangea

The hydrangea arrived in a pot with three enormous pink blossoms, which I cut back once they started to brown. There is new growth toward the bottom of the plant, hard to see in the photo.

I’m pleased with how everything has come along this first year, and glad I didn’t set up any raised beds right away; it’s given me the time to move things around, see where the sun and shade are, and decide to avoid planting fruits and vegetables along our back fence, a.k.a. Squirrel Highway.

On our daily walks, I’ve been admiring everyone else’s gardens around the neighborhood, and taking photos of the plants, flowers, and arrangements I like best; I’ll write a separate blog post about those. There are a few enormous old copper beech trees as well as wildflowers, some really high-level container gardening, and more landscaped-looking yards. Gardeners, I’ve found, are a bit like librarians – they love to share knowledge and ideas, and they’re generous with advice if you ask.


Leave a comment

Filed under gardening, plants, seasons, summer

Summer gardening

Spring gardening, May update

Looking back over earlier posts (and the garden journal I’m keeping) has reminded me of changes large and small: shifting the arrangements of annuals around so the big pot has calibrochoa as well as verbena, lobelia, and poppies; moving the potted raspberry bush off the asphalt (it was cooking on hot days and I’ve learned raspberries like a wetter environment; the three canes a friend gave me died); hanging one of the hanging baskets; clustering the potted herbs on the front porch and on a shelf I can see from the kitchen window (though I worry the latter is not a sunny enough spot. I’m working with a lot of part sun/part shade areas).

Back yard fence with tomato buckets

Tomatoes growing in buckets along the back fence

This weekend I hope to be rid of the rhododendron; a neighbor is coming to dig them up and take them away, so I can put things we actually like in their place. Some overall goals I have for the garden are:

  • Some evergreen plants so we have a little color in winter, particularly in the front
  • Plants that attract pollinators (bees and butterflies)
  • Blues and yellows (and greens, of course)
  • Planting strategically to hide ugly chain-link fences
  • A raised bed (next year!) for the tomatoes, strawberries, and other fruits and veggies (there’s too much lead in the soil here for edible plants)
Wooden shelf with herbs

Shelf of herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley)

Rose campion and vinca vine

Rose campion and vinca vine

Leave a comment

Filed under gardening, plants, seasons, summer