Monthly Archives: June 2013

Staycations

Like most people, I really look forward to my vacation time in the summer. Usually that means going to the beach. Now, I’m not especially a “beach person”, but I love the idea of getting away from it all, to relax and do things I normally don’t do. But this year, for several reasons, I decided to stay home, or as the modern phrases go, have a staycation.
For me, sometimes a staycation means redoing floors, catching up on chores and generally working myself into a stupor. But this year, my mom and sister, brother in law came down for a few days and we decided to go thrifting. We went to several thrift stores, both large organization and smaller ones around the area. While we didn’t cover more than ten percent of the thrift stores in the city, we had a good time searching out “treasures”.
I needed some costumes for an upcoming event that I’m going to, my mom wanted to look for vintage furniture and my brother in law for tools and craft items. My sister just enjoyed hunting around in the stores. We all have a tendency to do the “trash for treasure” thing, and I think most of the enjoyment we had was spending some time together, not having to travel to far distant locations or follow a time table. I’m looking forward to more “staycation” fun, like redoing my bedroom and crafting. Did I mention I got some furniture that needs to be refinished?
Do you enjoy staying home or are you someone who has to travel to relax?

Weird turkey dance

IMG_7366 turkey fight crop_2

I have the good fortune of living in the suburbs and have a cow pasture that borders my back yard. As a result, in addition to the cows and calves, the burro and birds that I get to watch I get to scope out a lot of different animals. Over the course of the year, I have an opportunity to watch the wild turkeys that live in my cow pasture and the woods around it. I’m used to seeing them in the winter, when they leave their usual area and branch out into the yards of my neighborhood. It’s not unusual to see a flock of birds traipsing through my yard on their way to wherever they are headed. I love just to stand and watch them strut along.
I’m also seeing them in the late spring now. I guess they are hatching and nesting, but also the males are trying to establish their own dominance.
The other day I saw something that was unusual, or so I thought. I was leaving my car after running an errand early that morning when I glanced up toward the pasture. I saw two turkeys from the neck up, their necks intertwined and engaged in something that looked suspiciously like a dance. So, of course I had to find out what they were doing.
Had I interrupted a “special moment”? A fight? Two very awkward birds? I went to the internet and started looking. It turned out that the males of the species engage in some fighting behavior to establish dominance and the “weird turkey dance” that I saw was such a fight. I didn’t stick around to see who won, but chalked it up to another interesting experience in my observations so far this year.
Do you have wildlife living near you? Do you see them on a regular basis? What are your favorites?

Discovering new foods

grits

Each summer, when I go on vacation, I try to have something I haven’t had before. Over the years, I’ve tried various greens (kale, arugula, so on), as well as buffalo burgers, shark and eel, and a soft shell crab sandwich that didn’t go over so well.
This year, I’m having a staycation and so need to try something new here in town. Yesterday, I went to a restaurant with some friends and one of them ordered an appetizer that came with grits.
Now, I know this is the south and grits are a staple here, but I’ve never particularly wanted to eat them, though I liked similar foods (cream of wheat, for instance). But in a fit of needing something to feed my stress, I asked if I could taste my friend’s grits.
She mentioned that she doesn’t like grits so offered them to me. I tasted them and instantly fell in love. Instead of being gritty, like their name, the grits were a combination of textures, smooth with a hint of crunch. They had a buttery flavor and were an immediate solution for my stress. I had another spoonful, then another before the server came and removed the plate. Good thing, I probably would have eaten the whole serving in addition to the salad I’d ordered.
So, today, I went to the grocery and bought grits to add to my shelves. And I’ll have to think of something else to try on my staycation!
What about you?
Do you stick with the same old same old in food or do you try new things occasionally? What has been your favorite new food? What about your misses? Which reminds me, I’ll tell you about my soft shell crab experience another time!

zz/’…………..//

My keyhole garden

A while ago, during my time online, I found an article about building keyhole gardens. These are basically gardens made of stone (or whatever durable material you have) with compostable material filling three fourths of it. In the center of the garden is a compost bin, which is meant to constantly feed the garden. Finally, on top of the garden is soil or manure and then the plants.

The garden is meant to be a self sustaining, self watering garden after it’s established. Now, I live in the US south, no SubSaharan Africa, which where the gardens are most beneficial, but in the middle of summer, the lack of rain and heat can be murder on my little gardens. So, I thought, what the hey, I’ll try it.

Whew! After I cleared the weeds from my little wedge garden, I started collecting stone from around my house and property (I’d bought and used river rock as borders over the years). Here is the start of the garden after one afternoon.

keyhole 1

I didn’t get back to the garden for a while but when I did, I hit it hard. I kind of enjoyed the rock building, to be honest. I had to figure out how to stack rock without them toppling. However, when I started adding and tamping down then watering the cardboard boxes I used as compost, one section of the wall collapsed. I rebuilt it stronger and finished up with the boxes and brush. Each time I thought I had the thing filled, I got in and pushed down the cardboard with my feet and then started over. A year of collecting boxes (I thought for Goodwill) paid off. I transferred my compost bin into the metal tube in the middle of the garden, after I found out that loppers can be used to cut metal!

keyhole 3

Here is the garden ready for dirt and planting.keyhole 5

finished keyhole garden      finished keyhole 2

And here is the final product. I’ve planted tomatoes and peppers so far but the garden is supposed to be overplanted to conserve water. Maybe I’ll add some other stuff.

I’ll try to let you all know what happens as the summer progresses. But even if it is a bust, I have a conversation piece in my back yard! And guess what? I finished it just in time for a rain.