Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A visit to my Dad's in Maine

Today, the hubby and I drove up to Maine to visit with my dad. It was also my brother's day off, so I was able to visit with him, my sister and law and my nephew that I don't see very much. It helps that my brother lives right next door to my dad.

My dad is my go to guy for all plants that grow. He has been growing and designing gardens since he was in 6th grade. He went to college for it and is a wealth of knowledge. Growing up, we always had a big beautiful garden. Now I mostly keep a veggie garden (as if you didn't know hehe), but I have a couple of flower gardens by dad. He lives in an apartment building, so he doesn't have a big garden there, but he does have a little outside area that he spends a lot of time at when it is beautiful out, like today.

You can see some of his tomato plants to the right. All around this little corner, he has planters and pots full of flowers and other plants. I love the black eyed susans.

He does have a big veggie garden however. It is just not at his home. A little drive down the street and around the corner brings you to the towns organic community garden. It is a really big garden.

The garden has many lots so that many people can garden here. Some really take care in what they do and it shows, Other's just think that they can put some seeds in the ground and put a little water on it and that is it.

Because it is a organic garden, no pesticides or other means to get rid of bugs or pests are allowed. They are encouraged to use more natural means to lure the "bad" bugs away. There are sun flowers all over the garden to help control the Japanese beetle population. Lots of the bean plants still got ravaged by these annoying bugs, but the sun flowers sure are working as well.

Dad watering his plot. he actually has two plots. Every year he mixes the dead plants into the soil to decompose and make wonderful compost for the following years veggies.

He is growing some zebra tomatoes here. That's dad watering his garden.

Some of his rainbow Swiss chard. I have never had it before, so no idea how it is. Lots of people sell this stuff at our farmers market though.

Beautiful Gladiolas. These were growing at the plot next to dads. The gentleman who was growing these showed up right as we were leaving. He also gave dad a bunch of cucumbers.

Of course I couldn't leave without taking some pictures of the sunflowers that were all around the garden. I just love their colors. The just scream happy to me.

After spending some time at the garden, we drove to a little store and grabbed some sandwiches and headed to Portland to eat next to the water. I didn't get any pictures because I was busy eating and talking and catching up with dad.

It was a long day, but it was nice to see dad and to get him out of the house, even if it was for just a little while.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Evening walk in the garden

I've been in a lot of pain recently, so I haven't been out in the garden much. The hubby would grab anything that was ready to harvest. It has also been very gloomy and threatening to rain all day. We did get an emergency alert on the radio warning us that a severe storm was on its way to us. Ya that rain never came. It did rain a little while we were out to dinner, but it never rained in our town. Oh well, that's okay.

This is the first year growing corn, so it has been a learning process. Our corn is very tall, finally and has lots of "male bits" (as I call them) on them. They are also all over the corn leaves, which is kinda the point. The male parts fall off to fertilize the female bits.

The "female bits". I was soo excited to see these popping up. I have been so temped to self fertilize so that I know I will get cobs that grow well.

 Our butternut squash is growing like crazy. Next year I am not going to plant as much. There are 13 plants here! LOL. All my neighbors will be getting some of these.

The potatoes haven't grown up much recently, so I am hoping they are focusing of producing the tubers. The flowers died off a week or so ago, so they should be. This is also the first year we have grown these.

Lots of fruits on our butternut squash. They look sooo cute!

The pepper plants are loaded with little peppers. I am so excited about this. Last year we only had one pepper for the whole summer. That stunk bad. We love our peppers. Raw in our salads or just to munch on and cooked into our sauces and other dishes.

Our pole beans that the ground hog ate seem to be making a comeback. They are still a sad sight to look at from the bottom though.

But they are looking really good on the poles. Nicely growing up and fast too.

Overall the garden is looking nice. Only the bed with the summer squash and zucchini are dying down. I will be cleaning out that bed in a couple of weeks.

Our tomato plants are over loaded, but have yet to turn red yet. Well, one little roma has turned red, but we will just eat that in a salad. The basil is huge and I need to pick and  harvest it badly.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dinner Plans 7/28 - 8/3

Sunday ~ Pizza

Monday ~ Fish & Chips

Tuesday ~ Kielbasa, zucchini and summer squash packets on the grill

Wednesday ~ Dinner with Dad

Thursday ~ Grilled chicken salad

Friday ~ Spaghetti & Meatballs, salad

Saturday ~ Barbecue chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob

Linked to Meal Plan Monday @

Friday, July 26, 2013

Allegra our rabbit

Lots of the blogs I read, everyone seems to raise rabbits for food. I would love to do that, but can't. Again, due to where I live. We do however have a pet rabbit who lives in our house. We keep her large cage in our kitchen so she is always around someone. She is very social and loves to cuddle.

When I clean out her cage, I let her roam around on the floor. Because she hates our hardwood floors, she stays on a towel or blanket. The few times she has tried to leave the towel, she just slides. It's kinda cute to watch her try to hop on the floors.

Here are a few pictures of her spending time with me after I cleaned out her cage. She did bite my ankle because I wasn't letting her on the couch. She loves to be up there with us. LOL. She loves to play with the cats balls and a paper towel tube that I cut up so she has something to grab on and throw.

Wondering how she got her name? Here is the story of how she came to us. My sister found her when she was a baby in a cage that someone had placed next to the dumpster at her old condo. They couldn't keep her there (tiny place), so we took her in. She was sneezing a lot like she had a cold or allergies. Because I had taken the allergy medicine, Allegra, back when you needed a prescription of it, I thought it was a cute name and very fitting for our sneezy rabbit.

Max gets very jealous of her. He likes to be the center of attention, so when we are paying more attention to Allegra, he lets us know. One time he practically pushed her off the towel and laid down on it to get our attention. He has swatted at her a few times,but not with claws. Allegra always wants to play with Max, but he is never too sure about her.

Dinner cooked by Matt

Matt is going to his second week of scout camp next week. One of the merit badges he chose to work on is fishing. The one prerequisite that he has to do before camp is to catch, prepare and cook or buy a fish and cook it. He has caught many fish before, so he knows how to do it. We haven't had much time to go fishing this summer, so Matt and I went out to the store to buy some fish.

When we lived in MA, there were fish markets all over. I think I have only seen one kinda near us here in NH, but they are expensive. So sadly, we bought our fish from the grocery store.

I asked Matt how he wanted to cook it. He will eat fish done anyway, same with me, but the hubby will only eat fried fish. We decided to pan fry the fish in a little butter and some of my homemade breadcrumbs. He also made some rice pilaf and carrots that we got at the farmers market this afternoon.

Preparing the fillets in the breadcrumbs. Don't look at my dishes that I had yet to put away. We have almost no counter space.

Frying up the fish, cooking the carrots and the rice.

Kinda blurry cause I moved. He had some issues flipping the fish over. It is a pain to do because it is so flaky.

The final result. This was actually my plate. It was really good. Perfectly cooked. I hoovered big time, and told him what to look for and when to flip the fish when his first fillet was cooking. He made a total of 4. The carrots were soo supper yummy. They were picked fresh this morning. I am going to have to grow some next spring I think. I know everyone here will love them, even our rabbit.

Got the momma ground hog......finally

After setting up a fence around the yard, it was funny to watch the trail camera pictures of the ground hog trying to figure a way in. It took her hours, but she did find a week spot on our fence. So she had one last meal munching on the pole beans.

My poor beans :o(. I hope there is enough still there to maybe grow more and have a small fall harvest. These pole beans were my bumper crop of beans.

We used that spot under the fence to set up a way for her to go in the have a heart trap. We had to use our neighbors old dog cage to make a little spot around the part of the fence she made it under. Then we put the trap inside the area between the fence and the cage.

At ten this morning, I heard the phone ring and then Matt go out the backdoor (the door is right near my bedroom door). Then I herd him running in and down the hall. I knew from that run, that we caught something. I have been sleeping a ton recently due to my RA and fibro flaring so this also woke me up and got me out of bed.

I went outside in my jammies to see what we caught, then went back to get my camera.

She was one ticked off critter. She kept trying to get out of the cage by head butting the spot she went in. Thanks to the lovely way the cages were made, all that work was going to not let her go free. Heck, even I had a hard time figuring out how to open it when we went to free her.

I drove 3 miles away to where we put her kids. Hoping she doesn't make her way back here. I highly doubt it though. We have the trail camera still up and running just in case there was another ground hog out there. We caught the momma and the kids, so there has to be a dad somewhere. I doubt it though.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Homemade Pizza

I love making my family pizza from scratch. It is so much healthier and cheaper. This is the recipe that I use for my dough.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkt)
1 c warm water
2 cups bread flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp white sugar

You can also add herbs to the dough if you like. My hubby and son don't, so I don't usually.

1. Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Let it stand until nice and creamy, about 10 minutes of so.

2. In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Then add the yeast mixture and stir well to combine. Kneed until a stiff dough forms. Cover and let is rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.

3. Shape dough into a round pizza dough shape (or rectangle or any other shape you would like). Cover with your favorite sauce (homemade is best), some toppings and then bake for 25 minutes or so until nice and golden. Enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Me vs. the Ground Hog

If you have been reading my blog for sometime now, you know of my problems with a ground hog. You can read about the beginning of it here.

We have tried many things to get rid of her. We tried both homemade and commercial versions of a pepper spray (Critter Ridder). Both of them kinda sort of worked, but only the first day or two, then the ground hog got use to it.

We also tried these solar powered sonic things. They worked a bit better, but eventually failed. Sorry for the foggy picture, but the camera was in a nice cold ac house and it was 100 outside, so the camera fogged up a bit. We had two of these and were given to us while we were out at some yard sales. If they worked, awsome, if not, then we didn't pay anything for them.

These sonic things did help us catch a surprise though. After we put them in the ground (this one was near the shed), I was working in the garden, when I herd some whimpering coming from under the shed. I walked around the shed and sure enough, I saw a hole dug going under it. I grabbed Steve and we set the have a heart trap right outside the hole. Then I went inside.

About an hour later, I poked my head out the backdoor to see if we caught anything. I got soo excited to see some movement in the trap. I woke up Steve from his nap, while I grabbed my camera and headed outside to see the thing. Only the big ground hog wasn't in it. But instead, I saw these little guys:

These two are baby ground hogs. Kinda cute aren't they? Stinky little buggers though. They enjoyed a nice feast of parsley and some butternut squash leaves. They must have just been kicked out of the family burrow and decided that our shed was a perfect spot to live. It is, after all, right next to a buffet of food. We put them in the back of the truck and drove them a nice distance away near some water and food but far away from homes.

Now all we have to do it catch their mom. She is the one that has been really bothering us. Eating all out bush bean plants so that now we will have nothing to harvest from them. I eventually was ok with that because we have pole beans that are growing very nicely. Plus the ground hog didn't know about them. Yet.

I woke up one morning to see some nibbling on the pole beans. I freaked out. Now this is what the pole beans looked like:

This was taken the first week of July. Eventually they were very full and growing up the poles. This is what they looked like this morning:

Just stems and sticks left. Well pretty much. I might be able to salvage these, but I am ready to go to the farm down the street and ask how much a bushel of green beans will be.

Ever sense she started eating these pole beans, I have turned into Bill Murray from Caddy Shack. I just want her gone any way possible. I preferred a humane way, but at this point, I don't care how she gets gone.

Today we put up a fence around the garden beds. I got a 120.00 gift card from Lowes as a rebate from when I bought my washer and dryer, so we used that to buy fencing and poles. All we paid was 5.27 out of pocket. We aren't suppose to have a fence up per the park owners, but this fence will come down once the harvesting is finished and will go back up first thing in the spring before I start sowing the seeds in the beds.

While we were putting it up, one of our neighbors came over to see. Most of our neighbors are really nice and won't say anything or complain about the fence. All except one neighbor. And that one happens to live directly next to us. We will deal with that when it happens though. So while we were talking to the neighbor who came over, he said that he knows where the ground hog was living. He took us over to the neighbor next to him and right between this guys shed and oil tank we saw this:

A really big hole that our ground hog can fit in very easily. We brought over our have a heart trap, put some fresh cut apples in it and put some apple pieces down the burrow hole. We asked our neighbor to come get us if he hears any noise, but that we also will be over a few times a day to check on it.

We also have some fox urine that we will be putting around our fence. I have also herd that you can use rags soaked in ammonia tied around the garden, slivers of Irish Spring soap around the garden, Epson salts sprinkled right on the plants (it is good for them too, like for the pepper plants). Of course anything that moves, like pinwheels or motion sensor things. We haven't tried any of these things, but just might. We have everything but the pinwheels, but I can get those at the dollar store.

Now I am praying that we either catch her in the trap or the fence does the trick and she stays away from the garden.

Read the next chapter in this little "adventure" here.

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