Killing the Hardiest Plants

Spring this year was typical of this region: cool temperatures and spring rains. There was no reason to believe summer would be any different from previous summers: hot weather with thunderstorms rolling through every few days.
Well, the hot weather arrived in style. This week has been brutal with temperatures over 100F. Yet, the rains haven’t come. Nearby towns have gotten rain, but Pottstown has received no significant rainfall for almost 2 months. It shows. The grass is brown and brittle. Leaves are turning yellow on several trees and falling off far in advance of Fall.

The common privet hedgerow that my neighbor assured me was impossible to kill is dying.

This was the same hedgerow that I painstakingly removed all the dead branches, old growth and leggy shoots from when we first moved here. Despite all the hard work, I refuse to save it from this slow death by watering it. For if it dies, with joy I will cut it down and plant a row of Hollywood Juniper which will blend a bit better with the informal look of my garden elsewhere.

Goodbye Christmas Tree

When we moved to this house 6 years ago, there were 18 trees on approximately 1/3 acre of land. Our neighbors  to the left of our house were partial to the 5 dogwoood trees. They told us stories about how the trees were often used as the back drop for their children’s prom pictures. Our neighbors to the right of our house were partial to the holly tree and the red berries it bore every winter.
The dogwoods and the holly are nice trees, but my 2 favorites were the huge pin oak

and the Colorado blue spruce.

The first 2 years we lived here I trimmed the spruce tree for the holidays. I loved how it almost shimmered after a snowfall.

A few days ago we had TreePro come by and remove it as it was slowly dying. I’m going to miss that old tree come winter.

For the record, despite removing 4 of the old trees for one reason or another, we have more trees than we started with thanks to my planting 5. Well, I actually planted 9, but only 5 took.

Perfect Intermittent Knitting Project

The hexagon afghan is a perfect project to work on when occasions to knit are few and far between. With a quick row count, I know exactly where I am in the pattern. Should I forget what rows to count, I have the pattern written down in my pda (I have yet to embrace the smart phones or ipads. I’m also the same person who thought Dan was silly when he bought me a pda so many years ago. Some things never change).

It’s also the perfect project to knit when all such occasions to knit are in the car. Since the hexagons are being knit individually, the project always remains small and portable. No accessories are needed which means I have a better chance of packing everything necessary to knit with – just yarn and needles.

The best thing about this project is that it is fun to knit. The decreasing of stitches on almost every right side row, the swapping of yarn on every other row and the picking up stitches keeps me entertained.

Sore Hands

On Saturday, I knit so much that my hands became sore. It was wonderful!

Lately, all my knitting is accomplished during car rides. On Saturday, not only did I get to knit during the drive to Granny’s house but I got to knit throughout the entire visit. Elly is quite independent now. Outside of the diaper changes and a New York minute  nursing session, she didn’t need me at all. She was happy to play with her cousins and to drag her doting Aunt all around.

I was so darn proud of her. I was also a bit sad. My little girl is growing up.

Envious of Toys No More

I’ve been cured. May I never be envious of another child’s toy.

Remember the water table I fell in love with at a friend’s house? And how I bought one for Elly only a few days after seeing it.

The toy is headed to an early retirement after only being in service for about a month.

Elly has become a climber.

She’s quite good. She can even reach places we thought were only reachable by adults.

Perhaps we encourage her, but it’s hard not to laugh.

Elly’s 1st Apron

Elly loves to help me in the kitchen now. A step stool sits in front of the island so Elly can reach the countertop. Stirring is still difficult for her but she keeps trying.

Jake cleans up most of her spills. When she’s not stirring, she’s tasting. Often she ends up covering her face along with whatever she’s wearing in flour. Rather than change her clothes repeatedly and in turn have to do more laundry, I whipped her up an apron.

Full details about the pattern and fabric can be found on my Elly-Made blog.

More Zucchini Please

Article first published as More Zucchini Please on Blogcritics.

Beginning last week, the zucchini plant in my garden started bearing fruit. Thus far I’ve made sautéed zucchini rounds, zucchini bread and zucchini chocolate cake. That might be enough zucchini for some folks, but I was hoping for much more.

I’m the sort of person who likes to buy several pounds of a fruit or vegetable that is in season -much more than Dan and I could possibly eat before it all spoils. Then, I sift through my pile of cookbooks searching for ways to use it all up.

I had come across some zucchini recipes I was excited to try: soup, a walnut bread, etc. Mostly, I just want an excuse to bake another Zucchini Chocolate Cake. My, it was so good. The zucchini made the cake incredibly moist. I didn’t even bother to ice it. Though Dan turned his nose up at the idea of putting zucchini in a chocolate cake, he was impressed by the results. Unless you grated the zucchini by hand or someone you trusted swore she put it in the cake, you wouldn’t believe it. You don’t taste the zucchini at all.

The recipe I used can be found here. Though the instructions didn’t specify, I finely grated the zucchini and drained off the excess liquid.  I also made a change to the list of ingredients by adding 1 teaspoon of espresso powder. I learned that little trick from Ina Garten. She always adds coffee to her chocolate recipes to enhance the flavor of the chocolate.

Well, here’s hoping the current orange blossoms on the plant bear more squash.

Earning Her Keep

Elly may only be 17 months old, but already she helps out with several household chores. She can put dirty clothes in the hamper, put wet clothes in the dryer, and turn the washer on. Hands down, her favorite task to do is helping her Daddy make coffee.