Sunday, March 21, 2010

Strawberry Huller

Snowing. On my tomatoes. Bah.

Thanks to Mike for braving the elements and covering up the vegetables while I worked out of the house this afternoon. Sure am glad I have not yet planted strawberries in the fantastic new strawberry pot I bought on Friday.

It is from Pots n' More, my fourth and final lawn and garden center to visit in search of a strawberry pot. You pull off onto the gravel drive and are immediately welcomed by the strangest smörgåsbord of flotsam and jetsam arranged in little to no logical order. I wandered through the aisles of pots (and more) and heard angels sing when I stumbled upon my find. The guy working there didn't speak much English, but I was able to negotiate 10% off the price by offering cash, and he happily tucked it into my car for me.

I actually bought the strawberries after picking up this nifty strawberry huller from my favorite spot. You push the green button, and the stainless claws reach out to grab the hull, then you push it into the top of the berry and twist, pulling out the hull with minimal meat coming along with it.

When I first told Mike about it, he said, "you mean it works kind of like a knife we already have?" But when I showed it to him, he noted that it looks like the thing in Total Recall that Arnold sticks up his nose to retrieve some sort of homing device, and now Mikey likes it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Spring has sprung all over, and I adore it. This is by far my favorite time of year. I could wax lyrical on it all day, but I'm certain there are plenty of bloggers out there doing the same. You know, stuff like, "...when the drowsy earth shuffles off the mantle of frost and awakens to a new year...." or "daisies pied and violets blue..." and there's some nonsense about a month coming in like a lion and leaving like a lamb. Or something.

I like best how Twain put it: "It's spring fever.... You don't know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so."

What do you want for spring?

My wants have simplified drastically now that I'm old enough to wear red lipstick. I want a good husband. Check. I want a dog. Check. I want a home. Check. God is good to me. So I decided this year I wanted the best bang-up garden I've ever had. Complete with entirely too many plants for us to consume at their peak, thereby forcing my hand at canning and preservation.

And so it begins.

The above is hard proof that I am not Martha Stewart. She would firmly state that I am cheating out the wazoo by purchasing almost fully-grown plants, but to that I say nay nay. It's tax season, folks. If I were to attempt seedlings when this busy, I'd end up with tiny pots of dirt all over the utility room. That's not to say I've never done it before and won't do it again, but this year, I took the easy route. Sue me. The tomatoes will still taste just as good.

Along with tomatoes, you're looking at jalapenos, bell peppers, cilantro, basil, and mint. My new crops this year are variegated oregano (so pretty), lavender (might do some lavender-infused creme broulee), lemon thyme (perfect for salmon), banana peppers (sweet and saucy), yellow bell peppers (extra color and kick), and lettuce. What the hell am I going to do with lettuce? Did you know there is absolutely no way to preserve lettuce? And if the chipmunks don't get it (Kearney is on patrol) in 45 days I'll have 9 heads of the stuff. Salad, anyone?

But we aren't eating the whole yard.
The bulbs that I planted in memory of A3 are coming up.
I love the smell of hyacinth.

You can't just delve into an entire Saturday of planting without a good breakfast. And no, I didn't bake this one. Tax season is becoming such an easy excuse for picking stuff up at the Fresh Market. Hello, my name is Fran, and I am human.
Once I set out to get dirty, I noticed this little guy in a pot of leftover dirt from last year. Mike would call it a weed. I call it a sweetheart shamrock. Fitting that this Irish lass would find them all over the yard.

And a word about frost: I planted just this early last year. Yes, I am aware that we have not yet had the first day of spring. Mike is shaking his head at me in dismay and chagrin. Even the plant guy at the nursery said he would be happy to sell this stuff to me twice after it dies in the ground of cold. But every nerve in my body is saying to plant, plant, PLANT, and by golly, I'm listening to it.

After I weeded and raked the beds and turned the compost heap, I found that a pair of toads had been unearthed. With a little help, Dante spied one about the size of my fist. He was in the way, so I gently bumped him with a gloved hand to see what the dog would do. His reaction was priceless. The toad jumped. Dante jumped. The toad jumped. And so forth. Then Dante became a little more aggressive, at which point the toad puffed up. When some toads puff, they emit an enzyme that tastes very much bad. Lucky for the toad. Though I warned him against it, Dante licked the toad. I wish you could have seen his face. Lemon sour with a side of super ick. He quickly retreated to curl up in the pile of leaves and smack his mouth for the rest of the morning.

And I inadvertently learned a sure way to make Kearney come inside from the back yard: activate the sprinkler system. (tee hee)

So after a beautiful spring day of weeding and digging and gently unpotting and watering and fertilizing and toad discovery and wolf whistles from the Mexicans replacing the neighbor's roof (unless "AI MAMI!" is one of their names, which I doubt), everything is in the ground, I am a little sore, and a G&T is remarkably in order.

All my wants are fulfilled.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend Wonderful

My dear, most patient readers.

I didn't realize how busy we would be this spring! Thank you for keeping up with me and bearing with the current dearth of posts. I promise you'll be sick of me come May.

This weekend Mike and I took some much needed R&R from the frantic pace of late. Dante joined us for a picnic next to the Reservoir along the Natchez Trace. We ate our lunch and laid out in the warm sunshine on a blanket in the middle of a field. A huge pine tree had fallen nearby, and we had a good time playing among its branches. We walked the shore, reliving Mike's days of beach combing in Okinawa, and Dante chased bugs in the dry grass.

After lunch we headed out to Turcotte to fire off the new rifle. It's a Ruger 10/22 .22 Sporter with an anodized stainless steel barrel. I have to admit it's an awful lot of fun to shoot. It's a very small rifle, so the bang isn't very loud, and there's no kick at all. As it was in the mid-60s, Dante was happy to hang out in the truck in the shade with a peanut butter Kong and the windows rolled down. He stayed in my line of vision, watching us, until somebody joined us at the rifle range with a huge M-1.


Dante was not a fan.


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