Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meet Byron.

Isn't he handsome? He's the newest member of our household except he lives out in the backyard. He has a fondness for twine belts, corn-patterned shirts and patchy overalls. He doesn't like rain. He's always smiling.
We've actually adopted Byron so that he can guard the tomatoes. Why would we need someone to guard the tomatoes? Well, because lately they look like this. Yes, half eaten. Yikes, I know. All that work and time and money and energy down the drain. All because my beloved backyard birds want an extra snack. The heirloom Cherokee Purples are their favorites. But you know what? They're mine too.
Let's just hope Byron is good at his job.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I have huge melons.....wanna' peek?

GREAT! Here's a peek at my lovelies....

Notice the honey bee in the bloom in the above photo. She's just one of the hundreds of honey bees that I have to contend with each time I go out to the garden. Tough problem to have!!!(wink wink) This is why we currently have around 30 melons growing all over the place.

I always read that it's good to put terra cotta tiles under the melons. The warmth helps them to grow faster and it protects the bottom side from getting too rotted, etc. I happened to have a broken pot and I've been using the pieces for this instead of buying something new. Hence the pretty blue broken pottery pieces you see sticking out.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Fever

Yes, this is another World Cup post. But, breathe easy, it's probably my last. I am a very loyal US fan. Now that they are out of the running, I may watch a game or two but it won't be with the same fervor. I can't just switch gears and root for someone else's team. I will back Argentina because that will mean my family will be happy. And I will root for anyone that plays against Germany or Brazil. But my heart won't be in it.

Nonetheless, we really lived it up and enjoyed the U.S.'s biggest game in US soccer in 80 years. I had a blast and I think Alain and my dear friend, Barb, did as well. I was very excited and nervous and so drank cinco margaritas. Yes, that is uno margarita too much for me, my lovelies. I am still not feeling like myself. But who cares. This was a very special occasion. Here are some of the photos to prove it. These were WAY TOO GOOD not to share. They all make me smile.

Yes, I actually got Alain to wear U.S. gear....and, I must say, he wears it well!!!

Like I said, cinco margaritas....

Sophie stopped in for the last 10-15 minutes or action....or rather inaction.

My favorite photo from the weekend World Cup festivities? This one. Me, dressed as "Memo", the Mexican player with the crazy hair (something I can relate to), and Jean, our dear Mexican friend. He was kind enough to invite fans for the opposing team over to watch the game.

Note To Howie: Tim, I'll be following you over the next few years. You'll be about 35 years old during the next World Cup. That's not too old for you, you courageous lion. I'm just sayin'....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pesto Lovers Beware - Basil Blight!

Luckily, I listened to NPR for about 10 minutes yesterday. I caught one news story and it just happened to be about basil blight. An outbreak of downy mildew has been spreading throughout some Eastern US states (NY, NJ, OH and FL). The best way to check for it on your plants is to look at the underside of the leaves - there will be a dusty looking growth that is greyish/purplish in color. These are the spores and they spread very easily. You may also notice discoloration on the tops of the leaves. Please check out the NPR interview for more information.

As for me, I have about 8 basil plants and I can spare a few. I am planning to make pesto this weekend. JUST IN CASE.....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Landon or Donovan?*

Oh, excuse me, just contemplating names for my next born.

No, I am not expecting a child. Just planning for the future.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I feel for you. Because you missed the most excruciating and, at the same time, most exhilarating game of US soccer that I have ever seen. I went to a pub BY MYSELF and watched the game this morning (everyone else was either working or at home with their kids). It was the coolest experience I've had watching a sports match. I hugged and gave high fives to total strangers. I hooted and hollered like a mad woman. I became hoarse from all the screaming. It was so much fun. And, after I'd actually given up all hope (it was already past 90 minutes!!!), I was so caught off guard by Donovan's goal, that I started crying. I was really embarrassed but I couldn't help myself. And I wasn't the only one. People were standing on tables and chairs. Others were running around the room. Pandemonium. A real moment to remember. I've rarely seen such grit and determination and, well, staying power that the US athletes exhibited in this game. I hope that remains true. In the meantime, I will continue to be inspired by the US team and today's match. And I'm already gearing up for Saturday.

And I am damn proud to be an American today. Way to go, team!!!

*(No, Tim Howard, I didn't forget about you. You were also amazing today, as I would expect!)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

All day I dream about.....

.....Party Planning!!!

Our July 4th Party is only two weeks away. Even though I've been thinking about it and planning it for months, I still feel nervous anticipation. So today, since it's at the front of my mind, I wanted to share an image I found months ago that served as the inspiration for this little soiree that we are having.

I love the clean, simple, country, rustic, Americana feel of this table setting. Amazing how this one little image can inspire an entire party.
(Since I discovered this image on one of my very early trips out into the blogosphere, I don't remember where I found it. I was thinking House Beautiful, via someone's blog, but now I can't find it anywhere. And there are a gazillion places to look. Sorry!)

Friday, June 18, 2010

I really do love England now!!!

....because they just tied with the US a much better chance of advancing to the next round. I am sure the whole of England is "setting itself on fire right now" (yes, I stole that quote but I thought it was hysterical!!! I give credit to Sports Grid). I did my calculations and research to find out what the USA team's possibilities are for going forward.....

1.) US Wins against Algeria - we would advance. God Willing and The Creek Don't Rise! This is obviously the most optimal situation!!! Fingers and toes and eyelashes crossed.... I will be a basketcase next Wednesday morning. Anyone care to watch with me? No kids allowed ~ too distracting. And I would terrify them with all my hootin' and hollerin'.

2.) US ties with Algeria. This is a little more tricky. England would have to lose for the US to advance. I won't bet money on this scenario though (although Slovenia is doing quite well). If both the US and England tie, both teams would have the same number of points and the outcome will come down to scores. Yikes. Don't want this to happen. If England wins, well, you can figure it out. I will delete my entire post about all the things I love and adore about England (not really but I'm sure I'll be tempted!!!).

But then again, I've been watching World Cup news worldwide ALL DAY and not one person I've seen or read about has agreed with that call from today's game. The US should have won today 3-2. And then we wouldn't even be having this discussion!!! I won't be getting past this anytime soon. And the coward ref won't even explain his call or who it was against. What an idiot. How is this kind of stuff even allowed? What if he was paid off or something??? (Yes, I am a conspiracy theorist.)

I Heart Tim Howard!

Oh how I do love the World Cup! Today's game, no matter how disappointing or upsetting, was a perfect example of why I love this game so much. The US played an amazing game! Why they always have to give up a goal so early in the game is anyone's guess. But they are the Comeback Kids. We were absolutely ROBBED by the inexperienced ref (it was his first World Cup game!) disallowing that third goal.....with no explanation whatsoever as to why. Not to mention that fouls were being committed all over the place during that play and he missed them.....we should have had a penalty kick there. The yellow flag that was given to Findley was a joke as the ball bounced off his head and THEN hit his if he had any control over the ball at that point. What a joke. Someone needs to go back to basic ref school ~ I'm just sayin'. ANYWAY, my point was not to rant and rave about the game. I could do that all day.....

The real reason for this post is to express my absolute admiration for this guy, Tim Howard. Every once in a while a soccer player comes along and steals my soccer-loving heart away. I used to love Batistuta (I am a loyal USA fan but I recognize good players when I see them!). This World Cup it's Howard. I feel the US defense is lacking and so my new saying is "Leave It To Howard". He is super confident and owns the game. The commentators (whom I cannot stand!!!!) said today, "Howard has the courage of a lion". If even those bastards can cough up a compliment, you know he has to be good. I love when he gets super-frustrated at his own team for leaving him exposed and he responds by screaming and throwing his hands up at them. I do love a player with true passion. However, if this didn't happen, we wouldn't be able to recognize the pure soccer genius that is Tim Howard. Howie, love you baby.

Signed, Your Biggest Fan.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bring Back Teatime!!!

This month's issue of Country Living (UK) has a feature titled "Bring Back Teatime". It's a call to action to bring back this most treasured of British traditions. I learned a lot ~ I never realized there was such a thing as teatime etiquette. Anyway, as usual, I drooled a bunch over all the images and I'm already planning an official afternoon tea in my garden. Complete with cucumber sandwiches and scones. Never fear, it'll be in the Fall when it's not 100 degrees outside. (It's been BRUTAL in Charlotte this week. Ugh. I can't stand the weather here!)

This article also got me thinking about how Charlotte doesn't have a teahouse. Man, that would be so nice. Dreaming, as usual....
(All images from Country Living, UK edition)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Leslie, I'll love you forever!

Those were the words that escaped my lips after seeing Leslie's GORGEOUS hydrangea bush in her backyard, just after I'd asked if I could clip some blooms. What am I, a child? But I can't begin to express just how much I love blue hydrangeas. They make me so happy! Well, Les, she's a swell friend and she let me clip to my heart's content. Her bush literally has hundreds of blossoms. So look at what's keeping me company today:

Last night I was so excited to bring these babies home with me that I was carrying them around from room to room. They were the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes this morning. Yes, it's a good day. Thank you, Les. And just for the record.....I would have loved you forever anyway. (wink wink)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bye Bye, BiBi!

Well, she finally did it. My little girlie gave up her beloved BiBi, her pacifier. She did it in her own time and at her initiative. My husband and I made our peace with the BiBi a long time ago. And we made the decision that we'd let her drive the effort to give it up. Last week she decided it was time to "give her BiBi's away to the babies who need them".

This Wednesday, June 9th, we had a little ceremony in the morning.....Sophie tucked the remaining four into an envelope and we walked her out to put them in the mailbox. It's done. And her first three nights without them have been uneventful. And I am overcome with pride at how well she's done. I know it's been hard for her. She'll mention that she doesn't want to grow up and she wants to still be a baby. Don't we all? She wants to give at least ten extra hugs and kisses at bedtime. We're reading extra books. Yet she proceeds with no tears and no tantrums. It's really quite impressive.

Guess what? I have shed more tears than she has. I am surprised at how emotional I've been at this whole thing. For me, I think it's the last major step in leaving true babyhood. I am sure that she was more ready for this step than I was. I think part of it has been our inability (so far) to have a second child and my fear that I'll never get to experience another baby of my own. Maybe Tuesday night was my last night putting one of my own beautiful babies to bed. I don't know that I'll have another. Because now I am putting a very big and brave girl to bed. Yet no matter how big she gets, I will always, always, always picture her just like this.

I don't know about Soph but I know that I already miss that BiBi so much.

And, I have to say, Alain and I did it the right least for our family. I never wanted to go through all the drama involved with taking it away from her before she was ready. Nights full of screaming and crying and insecurity. This was the right way. And I am so proud of us. I see how proud Soph is of herself and I know that we helped her get there. Only a parent can know what's best for their own child. Parenting is hard but it's nice to have a moment here and there when you can pat yourself on the back for doing the best thing for your child.....Bye Bye, BiBi.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Where in the world is Audrey?

I can tell you where she hasn't been - blogging. But you can find her doing one of the following at the following places:

1. At home - laundry, ironing, making beds, emptying the dishwasher, etc. MISERABLE. Also, spending hours on the phone with Verizon, etc to work out billing and technology issues. Fun week for me. Ugh. I've been having a lot of fun lately.....meeting friends, party planning (smile!), etc. and all this domestic (read horrible) work has been piling up. So I'm paying the price this week.

2.) Hitting the pavement - I am now training for a ten miler in late September. Please stop laughing. I CAN HEAR YOU!!!

3.) In the garden - you know, weeding and obsessing over issues. Oh, and happily, now harvesting little bits...

4.) At the pool - my girlie and I have been hanging at the pool quite a bit lately. I am NOT a pool person but I have to say that we've been having a lot of fun. Sophie's confidence in the water is impressive. I've seen drastic improvements in a week and a half. AND our gym has the coolest pool (actually Waterpark) that I've ever been much fun. We're even getting tanned. And my friend Connie and I came up with this equation......TAN = SKINNY. Ha ha ha. I wish that were true!!!

Anyway, hopefully I will be able to blog more next week because I do miss it.....

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Ciao.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ah, relief....

I went to Renfrow's today. For two things. Number one: Pumpkin plant. Check. Number Two: Tomato Blight. As I mentioned, I removed the infected leaves. Well, much to my dismay, the blight is just showing up at the bottom of the plant. It continues. WELL, as I've been celebrating all the rain that we've had in Charlotte because I haven't had to water in three weeks, the rain is the cause. It's too much and it's causing the blight to appear. The soil is way too moist and hasn't had enough time to dry out between rain storms. Can you believe it? It's nothing I've done.....something completely out of my control. The lady helping me said that everyone else is having the same problem. She also said (and I quote), "This has been a really tough year for gardening". Is it wrong that I wanted to kiss her? I naturally chalked up all my gardening issues to my inexperience. As usual, I was being too hard on myself. This is a tough year for gardening. Since then, I've been walking around with a smile on my face.

I also spoke to her about planting more cabbage and broccoli in the Fall. What, come again? I know, I know. With all the looper issues, I said I was done with the brassica family. Well.......I had to harvest the cabbage head at the end of last week. I went out one morning and found a MASS (and I mean large MASS!) of green, gobby, gooey, LARGE eggs of some type. It was DISGUSTING. I hadn't seen anything like it before. I don't know about you but I had no interest in finding out what was going to hatch out of those suckers. So, like any brave woman, I had my husband harvest the cabbage head and remove the plant and put it directly into the garbage. Shew. Crisis averted! I knew there were loopers in the head so we gave it a nice, long salt water bath. Only one worm floated to the surface but lots of tiny white eggs were floating in the dish afterwards. Anyhoo (I am long winded).....we started using the cabbage this weekend.

WOW!!! In my lifetime, I have never tasted cabbage like this. I didn't even know I liked cabbage this much. It is DIVINE. We've been adding shredded cabbage to our salads every night. Not only is the color GORGEOUS but the taste is simply out of this world. I can honestly say that it was worth every damn worm I pulled off that plant. Worth all of my obsessing. I would otherwise never have known how good cabbage can actually be.

The good news? The Renfrow lady told me that I won't have those looper issues in the Fall. Oh happy day!!! I am seriously ready to pop open champagne to celebrate the very thought of growing this ridiculously delicious cabbage without all the looper issues.

AND, I just have to say.......I know you've heard it all before....but I love veggie gardening. I LOVE IT.

Friday, June 4, 2010

State of the Garden Week - Post #5

So, all in all, the garden is doing fairly well. Next week I head over to Renfrow's to purchase some pumpkin plants. Oh my, this will be interesting. I wanted to plant them this week but it's done nothing but rain. I'm going to end "State of the Garden" week with an overall shot of the garden. I love it. It has surpassed my expectations so far. And I've already started charting my fall garden (you have to start months in advance!)....but more to come on that!

I've been in the midst of several other projects this week so you'll be hearing about those in the next couple of days. Stay tuned.

Oh, and how could I forget, Alain made peach jam last night. It looks so good!!! We can't wait to try it......I'll send some photos so you can drool over it!
PS - For my tomato plants with blight, I removed all the foliage that was infected. I couldn't find a great resource on how to treat it. One place said to remove the plants all together. Ugh, I couldn't bring myself to do that. Another source said to remove the infected bits. So that's what I did. We'll see what happens from here. But the tomatoes are looking VERY GOOD! Fingers tightly crossed.....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

State of the Garden Week - Post #4

Hmmm........we are completely inundated with peaches. Peaches, peaches everywhere. On the tree, under the tree, rolling down the driveway, under the cars, in the backyard, on the kitchen counters. Literally all over the place. I even found one under the kitchen table earlier today. I have no idea how it got there!

You'd think this was good news. But I'm not sure it is. They're beautifully red as you can see from the above picture. But they're still hard as rocks. I am new to this. I love to believe I'm a Farmer Jane but let's be real. The knowledge that true farmers have is acquired over decades of experience. This is my second year of gardening and I inherited the peach tree from our home's previous owners. I am totally out of my element. We have baskets full of peaches inside hoping that they will continue to ripen before they go bad.

On a recent trip down to Fort Mill, SC, we passed the thousands of peach trees that line the roads and highways. You know what? Not a peach in sight. How can those trees be so different from our own? So I keep getting this sneaky feeling that something is not quite right with our tree/peaches.

Our Mama tree has really been suffering. I thin the peaches almost daily but she is still crippled under the weight of all the fruit she's produced. After one storm, we lost a large branch. I think the additional weight of all the rain took her over the edge.

Note to Self: We really need to take better care of Mama Peachtree.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

State of the Garden Week - Post #3

Hubbell will be happy. The cucumber plant is alive and well. Better than well really. It's already reached the top of the cage and has random arms reaching all over the garden air....desperately looking for something to grab on to. We've also spotted the first few cucumbers. One of them will likely be ready for harvesting in the next couple of days. Yum.

Also, here is a photo of the other two tomato plants. As of now, the blight-free plants. Luckily, my favorite Sungold plant has been spared. The other is the Cherokee Purple variety. They're both growing out of control and it's on my to-do list this week to prune them a little. We will definitely have fresh tomatoes ready for consumption in the next week or two.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

State of the Garden Week - Post #2

Let's start with the good news.

This is one of my three cantaloupe plants. Lookin' damn good if I do say so myself.

The scarlet runner beans are slowly making their way up the trellis. There are a few nice red blooms but no beans that I can see yet. When I look at the garden from a distance, for me, this is the highlight. It provides a nice aesthetic that would otherwise be missing.

A peak at the red cabbage head. And, unfortunately, more examples of looper damage. Yes, I am still picking off worms every single day. Although, I do have less work now that I've removed the two broccoli plants. (silent cheering going on here behind the keyboard!)

It's been pouring (and I mean POURING) rain all day in Charlotte. I just took these pictures within the last hour. I am including this picture because I will never tire of the way water beads up on cabbage leaves. It's so lovely. Of course, a picture barely does justice.

The bad news? Two of my tomato plants have blight. I don't exactly know what this means yet but you know for sure that I will be researching this most of the evening. The two affected tomato plants are in the first bed that is the carry over from last year. I feel sure that it's something that I didn't do after last year's growing season. This year I will know better what to do with the bed once the season ends. For now, my fingers are tightly crossed that I won't have to remove the entire plants. More to come....

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