Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor

This is book 8 in the series Patrick Taylor wrote about Ballybucklebo revolving around the GP Fingal O'Reilly and the "characters" in the small Irish village.  Fingal has returned from his honeymoon to his long lost first love Kitty,  Mrs Kinkaid has been seeing more of the milkman after recovering from her operation, Barry Laverty has taken a year leave to see if he wants to specialise in obstetrics, Dr. Jennifer Bradley is his temporary substitute and must not only win over the townsfolk as the new Dr but also as the female Dr.  Donal is up to no good with his greyhound, and Arthur, the dog, continues to have his bowl of Smithwicks under the table at the bar, but may have met his match in a feisty new chihuahua the barkeeps wife has acquired.

This all goes on between flashbacks to Fingal's first year out of med school in the slums of Dublin, and we really get a glimpse of why he has become the type of Dr he is - perfectly willing, ready and able to meddle in affairs of the village.  It is kind of weird reading about the kind of things Dr's did to try to save people before the emergence of readily available antibiotics.

You know I have a thing about Ireland, and love books set in Ireland.  I really have enjoyed this series (even though I sort of forgot about it when I caught up - and now there are 2 more books out) and this is no different.  I already have a request in at the library for the next book in the series! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Garden update


My two kermits are thriving on the left, the tomato that shall beat my mom and father in law is doing great on the top left.


Some of the tomatoes and peppers are fine in the new pots I moved them to from their seedling pots a couple weeks ago - several need to be repotted again to bigger ones.. 


...the peppers on the left especially!   Guess what I'll be doing this afternoon?

After a teasing warm spell (I knew not to trust it, but I have panicked co-workers that did) it's back to being in the 30's at night, daytime high yesterday was 60.  I move all the plants outside if it is at least 50 when I leave the house, and then either Curt or I move them back in before nightfall.  I give them all pep talks while transporting them. (especially the tomato that has been designated to beat my mom and father in law.) 

I have planted rainbow chard seeds, and some herb seeds for the herb tower (discovered last year that the way it drains is not really promoting seed growth) and it's still too cold for them outside.  I'm waiting until the 2 weeks I have off in May to purchase cucumber plants etc.  I have some lily-of-the-valley bulbs to put in out front as well as 2 tricyrtis blue wonder (toad lilies!!!) they both like shade, so should do well in the back of the front garden (leaking gutter finally fixed so I can put stuff on the former waterfall line)


Friday, April 24, 2015

North Jersey's Diner culture is alive and well.

First, I should say that just off the top of my head there are 9 diners in  a 5 mile radius of my house, may be more there are main roads I rarely use.  There's another opening soon.  One of the local favorites, the Hibernia Diner, was closed for a couple months for renovations. The Horror!! People were forced to go other places!!!  Curt and his Thursday bowling friends had to go... 2.75 whole miles to a different one!  Seriously though, it's not like there is a lack of restaurants you could pick from, unless you were with Curt and his friends looking for food late at night.  I personally missed the Sedonna Eggs Benny for breakfast out.

This is the before shot -windows are different and there are neon bands going down between the windows - also the sign changed.

They re-opened on Tuesday.  The local grapevine went insane.  The Angie in Philly knew it had "finally" opened.  Even Curt knew it opened!!  Since I got off work at 8pm (ok it was more like actually 8:25) we decided we would meet at home and drive over for a late supper.  At 9pm they were "down" to a 30 minute wait.  Apparently at one point the wait was almost 2 hours!!  The wait staff and kitchen crew were clearly overwhelmed, we left after 11pm.

The old interior decor

Curt got the Breakfast Burger - Applewood bacon, pepperjack cheese, fried egg and hash browns with the burger supposed to be on french toast - he got it on a bun.  I got the Southern Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwich (they have regular chicken and waffle not sandwich too Grace!) The waffle was the "bread" along with the strips of chicken was bacon, mango aioli, spicy slaw with bourbon raisins  and candied pecans.  

Picture of Tuesday night from the Angie's facebook she sent me.

I just realized, I took the pictures on Snap chat and didn't in the subsequent 24 hours save them to my gallery...   Guess i'' post photos next time I go... sorry,  before pictures were from the interwebs.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Searching for the Rainbow Connection

I bought a rainbow sampler pack from Lancaster Yarns last year.  I was originally going to make hexi's out of them, but after making Tessellating Diamonds Mitts and having leftover Dream in Color  Starry, I started thinking about a rainbow shawl.  With beads, because you know, beads. Then after a couple months, I almost found a pattern, which was close enough because I never really follow a pattern (or a recipe) to the letter anyway...

I've finished the  side to side bottom up portion, and am starting on the vertical short rows.  The camera on my phone did not pick up the sparkling of the yarn and beads so use your imagination.




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Dare Me

Finished reading : I Dare Me, How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something New Every Day by Lu Ann Cahn

I think a lot of people can gain from reading this book.  It's really easy as adults to fall into a rutt, for everything to be stuck, and wait for something BIG to pull you out.  My great-grandfather used to say the reason time goes by so much faster for adults than for kids is because everyday starts looking like every other day, so they all blend together.  And to make matters worse, we all start looking for the weekend at 8am on Monday morning - so we blur through the week, the weekend can't live up to our expectations every week,, so we're looking for the next weekend.  When you're a kid everyday has something new, or different or unusual - good or bad.  To be honest, I'm not entirely sure today's couch potato/ never set foot outside in the sunlight have that, but when I was a kid we did.

Some of the stuff Cahn does is just crazy,  I'm never going to zip line through the Mexican jungle.  I never plan on BEING in the Mexican jungle.  I think what I'm attracted to is the inspiration of the little things she does in her book.  While we all wait for something BIG to happen, we bemoan the fact that we don't have the time or money to make these big things happen, and we dig the rutts we're stuck in even deeper.  SOme of the things she did takes no money and almost no time.  I know that I personally can find things in my life everyday that I can try to do differently,  and I plan on trying.  No, you aren't getting a video blog like she did for a year - I may mention them from time to time.  And no, those of you who know me personally already know, I really don't care if people around me think I'm nuts.  Most people do anyway.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


There's a guy at work, nice guy, mid 60's, works in garden, not really in my social group, but we talk once in the while when he comes over to use the computers at my desk.  He got a kidney transplant 25-30 years ago (don't remember exactly) now that kidney is failing. Some important number is really, really low, and he's been really feeling poorly for months now. He was on the list for a donor kidney.

There's a woman at work, works in kitchens, about my age-ish so figure between late 40's early 50's.  I really don't exchange much more than basic pleasantries with her.  She knits, but one project at a time, and has no stash - buys yarn for a project, then knits it repeat. weird, I know. No idea if she's married, if she has kids, I know is she loves Cooper Mini's.  Apparently she is a good match for Lou.  Since she is, she decided to donate one of her kidneys to him.  

They weren't really friends or anything, just two people that work in the same building, and speak when they bump into each other at work.  When my friend Chris asked her - she just said he needs a kidney, I have two.  I'm kind of (not sure of the word I'm looking for - confused? maybe?) at the (motivation?  reasoning? logic?) of her decision.  I'm 100% sure I wouldn't make that offer. (pretty sure that mine wouldn't pass anyway, with my health issues but still) I'd give one to Curt, or the Angie, or my brother without a second thought.  I'm not really sure if I'd even give one to family outside of them.  And friends?  There are maybe two I might consider... maybe....

It's hard to say exactly ( mind you I can't even donate blood for three different reasons on the blood donor form last time I checked)  I am puzzled?  One of my friends donated bone marrow  - twice - to strangers, but other than being sore for about a week, he grew more.  

I did donate to the fund the store is collecting for them ( the company will match what we collect) and I will say a prayer next week when the surgery is scheduled. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stanley Cup Bracket

Since people keep asking - here's the bracket I entered in the pool I'm in - I actually entered it Tuesday night - but the graphics I used here are from last night --- no several of my picks are already in trouble... what else is new... pretty soon sports teams are going to be paying me not to pick them!!

 And since apparently I screwed up the finals - I have the Tampa Bay Lightning taking the Cup this year...

We interupt knitting updates for a special bulletin!

I have been working on my rainbow shawl - it's slow going - and I have knocked my little tray with hundreds of beads on the floor more than once... I may have spent more time crawling around fetching beads than actually knitting - so no update pictures at this time.

What I do have to tell you about - is the only thing that makes me not totally want to cry when winter is over.  The only good thing about summer - is my veggie garden!  I don't grow "normal" veggies - the kind you can find at all the farm stands/ farmer's markets and even the grocery store.  I don't grow veggies to save money (I'm pretty sure they are the most expensive anywhere but Alaska if you add it up)  I really believe there is nothing tastier than a tomato still warm from the sun fresh off the vine. is actually located in "central"  --- nope can't say that - sorry C! -- south Jersey and you can go to their greenhouses to buy plants in person (it's actually the only current way to get at their huge assortment of basils and their tomatillos)  Curt and I drove down there on the day they opened for the season.  It's just over an hour from here.  They open at 10am - we were there at 10:06am and we got the LAST PARKING SPACE!!!!  The greenhouses were packed with people like me that wanted to get their "babies" home!!  I really had to go early - last year they sold out of coyotes before I could get one!!

I have some favorites.   Kermit is a hybrid eggplant.  It's about a 2" round globe.  There is no bitter, it ripens green early in the season (listed at 60-70 days).  Sliced, grilled with a splash of olive oil and balsamic - warm is super yummy and melty creamy - cold is a great addition to a salad.  I use them also in a lot of Asian inspired sesame and ginger dishes. I also like to bread them and make eggplant parm sliders.

Casper is another of my favorites- a more "standard" oblong eggplant shape - it's mid season (80 days) about 4-6" long and white as a ghost!!

 I recently found that, while I know that tomatoes and basil and marigolds make great companion planting - basil planted with/near eggplant keeps aphids away.  My eggplants aren't usually that far from my tomatoes and basil, that may be why I never had an aphid issue - but this year I decided to put basil right in the pots with the eggplants!


The two Kermits are at the top of the picture.  The bottom tomato is an Early Wonder.  Most of my tomatoes went from the little seedling pot to a 3" pot on Monday - they will then probably go in a 6" pot a few weeks before going outside for good.  Each of the 3 times I transplant - I pick off all but the top 2 or 3 stems and put the stem in deeper to get a better root system.  (investing in roots early - while my plants do look smaller to my father in law and mom at first - means once they are outside all day in the sunshine they grow big and bushy much faster and I end up with earlier more prolific plants than either of those two get)  My early wonder was already about 7" tall in the seedling pot- and since it has been designated the plant that will kick the old peoples asses-- it got trimmed and buried deep in the big pot straight away.  (don't think I'm mean - my mom and father in law are retired, they live at a significantly lower elevation than I do--there is a definite climate band change where 287 intersects 80 -- the spring flowers I showed you on Tuesday?  Theirs were in full bloom on Easter.  they are at least 2 1/2 weeks ahead of me - they should be able to beat me - they never have -- the "competition" gets them plotting early - and out digging etc-- I think it keeps them young)


And before you think otherwise - no those pots aren't staying outside.  If it's over 60 before I leave the house they will go out to sit in the sun - and then I bring them in at dinnertime.  If it isn't 60 when I leave - I just open the screen door and let them bask in the sun while inside.  (if we get a cold day where it isn't 50 I'll leave the screen door closed) 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Read another 4 books

It's been 3 weeks - so not that impressive.  (couldn't figure out why I was "behind" in reporting - but realized I did a full post on the garden book and one on the movie I saw)  

 One really cool thing my library does, is they have a list of bestselling authors.  You can choose up to 10, and when those authors release a new book that the library is getting, you automatically get put on the wait list before the title is up for others to request.  Sometimes it takes awhile - but I really don't need to read it right as it's released anyway.   Last One Home is a stand alone novel by Debbie Macomber, other than my new annoyance at so many heroines being victims of domestic abuse -- I guess at least they all escape said situation, it was a wonderful book.  I do kind of wish there would be  a follow up book about Cassie's sister Nicole though. 

Two quickies - one in the Icicle Falls series and one in the Shelter Bay series:

And finally, another book from a recommended author Rachael Herron -- while it is a sequel to the How to Knit a Lovesong,  the characters from that first book are really in the background.

So even though I upped my reading goal to 40 - at about 1/4 of the way into the year - I'm halfway!



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sadly Spring has Sprung


I guess with all the snow at the tail end of winter - instead of my early spring flowers blooming one ast a time everything up to the daff's have bloomed!


Usually it's the reticular (no idea how to spell that - but they are my early spring favorites - little tiny irises the whole plant is maybe 4-5 inches tall!) irises and snowdrops, followed by crocuses, then daffodils then hyacinths finally tulips.

Don't you love these???


Did have a bunch of salt burns from all the salt that got thrown around to melt the winter's ice.. sigh...  not sure how to remedy that

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mac N Cheese

I realized, when sitting down to write this post, that I never took a picture of my finished dish.  And, it came out pretty good - because there's not much left in the fridge.  This came about, because I had some leftover stuff in the fridge, I keep a pretty decent pantry of staples, and I was feeling lazy about cooking dinner.  It's pretty much me not following the directions on the back of the Campbell's Creamy Poblano and Queso soup can.


In a heavy large pot - I melted about a tablespoon of butter and a swirl of olive oil, then I added in  1 1/4 cup of mushrooms until they started to caramelize, then added 1/2 cup of onions, 3/4 cup of peppers and one diced serrano(not pictured)  and sweat them out.  Once they were in the pot - I put 1/2 a box of pasta in a pot of water to boil.  The directions on the pasta called for 14 minutes - I did 10 minutes, since they would finish cooking in the sauce.


To the veggies in the pot I added 1 1/2 cups of cut up pre-cooked chicken, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 an andouille sausage (not pictured), a can of Rotel tomatoes - not sure why I own the mild version??  I also added about 1/3 palmful of both cumin and chipotle pepper, and fresh ground pepper.


I added the can of soup, half a can of milk and brought to a boil.  As soon as it stopped boiling, I added a cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Once the cheese melted, I stirred in the partially cooked pasta and poured the whole mixture into a pyrex casserole dish that I had sprayed with PAM.  I put it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, sprinkled another 1/2 cup of cheese on top and put it back in for about 10 minutes until the top cheese layer started to brown.  Let it stop bubbling (about 10  minutes) after coming out of the ovenand then let the vultures have at it.

1 tbs butter
3 tbs olive oil
1 1/4 cup diced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup onions
3/4 cup peppers
1 diced serrano
1/2 pound pasta
1 1/2 cup pre cooked chicken
3 garlic cloves
1/2 andouille sausage
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1/3 palmful each cumin & chipotle pepper
fresh ground pepper
1 can Creamy Poblano & Queso soup
1/2 soup can of milk
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar  divided 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Knitting updates:

Nothing finished to show you.  I started a beaded shawl (crappy beads, but I had them from a past failed hobby, bent my crochet hook - so I need to go buy a new one to move forward- I use a teeny tiny crochet hook to put the beads on the yarn as I knit - I don't pre-string them)  


I got up to the fourth block on the scrap afghan:


May be more next week !

get well soon...

Sending Well Wishes to my friend Grace - she's out of the hospital - but has some recouperation to do!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I saw this with the Angie (yes it seems I only go to the movies when the Angie is around)  I saw the first movie with her 4 years ago.  Like most sequels, this did not live up to the original movie.  Basically in the first movie a bunch of British pensioners move to India to live in a "restored luxury" hotel mostly for economic reasons.  The hotel is not finished being worked on, the manager is highly energetic and enthusiastic if not experienced.  It was a great movie as each makes the best of their new situation.  The sequel starts with Evelyn and Douglas (Jean left Douglas because she couldn't adapt in the first movie) still dancing around their feeling for each other because of fear, Mrs Donelly has had her surgery and helps manage the hotel as well as help rein in Sonny, Madge has found not one but two wealthy "boyfriends" Norman and Carol have hooked up.. sort of, Sonny and Sunaina are getting ready for their wedding, Sonny is looking for financial backing to open a second hotel - since his guests only seem to check out upon the final check out.

Possible spoiler ahead:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Three FOs for you.

First for St Patrick's Day - I crocheted a hatband to wear.




For the Epic Pi Day 3.14.15 I made a beaded pie pin:


And finally - my socks!


Making the Most of Your Allotment

 OOOPS. I seem to have screwed up and this didn't publish yesterday... smh... sorry.

This is a British gardening book.  Clearly, British "allotments" are significantly bigger than the plots on community gardens around here (seriously, around here - neither a greenhouse nor a shed are going to fit!)  That being said, I would recommend any home gardener to read this book. Soil/site prep,  amending the soil, cover crops, crop rotation (3 or 4 year plans) are covered in the first half of the book.  Then it goes into picking out what you're going to grow, what to plant when, what needs early starting inside or in a cold frame/green house (some of this may need to be edited if you don't live in Britain - but the timelines seem similar to what we would do in NJ).  There is also good suggestions on timeline efficiency - early crops to grow around late crops - the late crops don't get big and bushy before the early crops are harvested  as well as quick fall crops you can put in after your major summer crop is done (one huge advantage to this is less open soil = less weeds!)  The book also goes over ways to deal with pests, which bugs and animals are actually helping you out without resorting to industrial strength Raid.  Composting also gets a section - both kitchen and spent plant composting and brown/leaf composting. 

One last note - the photos are phenomenal!!