Monday, August 9, 2010

Son of a Beach!

This summer has been a weird one for me & Deb... kinda stressful, very poor (okay, nothing weird about that, we're always poor in the summer) and in a break from tradition, we're not taking a vacation this summer. There are many reasons for this which I can't really get into right now, but let's just say Big Things are coming and we can't really get away.

Enter Beth to the rescue: she has planned and organized two trips to the beach at Strathmere, NJ with a great group of friends to help us get out of the city. Thanks Beth!

We returned from trip #2 last night, sandy and sunburned and bone-tired from frolicking in the ocean. It was blissful. It may not be a full-fledged vacation, but getting away for even a day was just the change of pace we needed.

And none of this would have been possible without the help of Tara, Scotty, Mel and AJ, who took turns taking care of Hyde so his mommies could slip away for the day. Thanks guys!

Amanda and I, right after our first dip in the ocean:

Deb and Chris just, you know, chillin':

Chris and Jihad, hard at work on one of the many sand castles constructed:

The boys and Deb even tossed a football around:

Deb and Arizona give the thumbs up to beach bellies:

Arizona and Kali played some futbol:

Hold on, it's the ocean calling. I said HOLD ON!

We win! Thumbs up! (l-r: Deb, Beth, Kali, Chris)

Chris, hard at work on his second sand castle:

Getting sunburned:

What is a trip to the beach without the traditional beer shotgun?

Group shot! (l-r: girl who's name I don't know, Anna, Jihad, Marc, Deb, Kali, Beth, me, Rafiq)
As we left the beach, Chris drove us to a little ice cream shop that made their own ice cream (so different from the popular pre-made place) and we jammed the whole way back to Philly, our hair filled with sand, our bodies sunburned and our hearts very, very happy.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Great article about Judge Walker's decision being a turning point in the culture wars here.

Next stop, the Supreme Court?

This is VERY good news!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BREAKING! Garden Update!

I'm kidding, of course. There's nothing really "breaking" or urgent about a garden. And that's why I love them.

But anyway, the container garden is in full swing, and despite the heat, we've had many occasions to sit outside with frosty beers and enjoy it. Although the air conditioning unit on the patio is noisy, we are so grateful to have central air inside, especially during this beastly year. And in the interest of not wasting any water, we collect the air conditioner's runoff and use it to water the plants every day. I also put a bucket in the bottom of our shower (it takes FOREVER for that water to heat up to anything close to comfortable) and we use that as well to feed the thirsty plants. Sure, it's kind of a pain in the ass to lug a bucket of water outside every day, but knowing that we're doing all we can not to waste resources is really important to me. Plus I'm developing some awesome biceps-- it's a win-win!

The garden isn't all work and no play: I've been using this incredibly lush mint plant for juleps and for making mint syrup that enlivens every cocktail with a summer-y flair:

And I found a nice alternative to chemical mosquito repellents: a citronella plant!
Actually a member of the geranium family, this plant smells extremely lemon-y when disturbed even the slightest bit. I don't know if it's all that effective against those stinging buggers, but hey, every little bit counts, right?

We've just started to get our tomato crop in, and it looks like there are many more to come:

Look at this lovely Orange Blossom tomato!
They are INCREDIBLY slow to mature, but oh-so-worth it. Gorgeous and delicious!

Luckily we have the Black Cherry tomatoes coming in like they're going out of style while we wait for the Orange Blossoms:

They grow fast, they look adorable and they're so sweet & juicy:

I'm totally in love with my zebra-striped geraniums-- so cheery!

The pansies are blooming continually as well:

Even the sensitive plant, re-potted to get more sun, has started to bloom:

The pepper section of the garden is just getting swingin':

Look at this itty-bitty jalapeno!

And this bell pepper is FINALLY starting to get a little color... grow, dude, grow!

The Swiss Chard has been good to us this year, as evidenced by the stalks we've cut off and used to top sandwiches and to saute into breakfast scrambles:

Still no sign of any okra buds, although I'm not giving up hope yet:

And I'm getting a second round of green beans too!

The fairy garden seed packet has yielded a magical container of little, sweet flowers:

And the strawberries have sent runners all over everywhere, which combined with the morning glory pot (on the bottom) gives this yellow shelf an awesome overgrown look:

The morning glories say hello to me as I water every morning:

And the rosebush. Oh, the gorgeous teacup rosebush. It's been so beautiful all summer, flowering over and over. I love the delicate little blooms and I love how when they fade they scatter pink petals all over the patio. It's too perfect.

The verbena had a brush with death when I left it in an overly sunny spot, but moved to shadier digs, it's coming back:

And the bronze fennel is seriously out of control:

Of course for all of my garden successes, there was a big failure:
Both of my zucchini plants died, hard and fast. I don't know why. It's so frustrating. They both had male & female flowers, even little baby zucchinis! But then they just wilted and died. I've never had luck with any of the cucumber/squash/melon family. This same fate befalls them all. Any suggestions, fellow gardeners? I'm thinking it must be some sort of pest, although I couldn't see any huge red flags when they were dying.

Because I'm wildly obsessed with farmer's markets, I couldn't resist showing off my latest haul:

Yes, that's my foot at the bottom of the picture.

A pint of onions, a bunch of carrots, an assortment of peppers, 2 heads of lettuce, a head of garlic, 3 cucumbers and a loaf of bread for a little over $20. So stinkin' cheap, so stinkin' good.

Good god, all I want to do is live on an organic sustainable farm, raise chickens, start canning produce and making cheese. Can this happen soon, please?