Berry Lovely

Although our trees haven’t changed as vibrantly this fall as they have other years, their more muted show has allowed me to appreciate all of the color provided by berries, crab apples, and rosehips. While hiking out at Dawes, I loved seeing the hazy splashes of color in the distance coming from things like crabapples, winterberries, and serviceberries:035and look at the berries on this Sparkleberry winterberry shrub in their collection:

053While we were there, we browsed the selection of plants for sale at the visitor’s center. We found a white-berried version of a shrub already in our garden at home, the Japanese beautyberry, so we had to add that to our collection. Here’s a peek at the berries and such coloring our garden at the moment:


clockwise from top: Japanese beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica), Golden raindrops crabapple (Malus transitoria ‘Schmidtcutleaf’), white Japanese beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica ‘Leucocarpa’), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), Sugar tyme crabapples (Malus ‘Sugar Tyme’), and center, hips on our Scotch rose bush (Rosa spinosissima).

Persimmon Time

Popped out to Dawes this weekend. Had a lovely time hiking the grounds. Was tickled to see the fruit on a persimmon tree:


Seems like usually the animals get to them before I actually see them on the tree. I must confess, I’m not much use in the kitchen but these fruits could almost inspire me to try! I had persimmon pie once and replicating that flavor would be worth an awful lot of effort.

This tree is younger than the one I shared pictures of a few months ago ( -this one was planted in 1997. The bark isn’t quite as craggy looking as that on the more mature one, but you can see it is getting there. Would love to add one or two to my yard, but, alas, there just isn’t space. I’ll have to save that for my someday-move-to-the-country-dream-file!


Rolling, rolling, rolling

Although I love vintage bicycles and we have a few project ones waiting to be properly fixed-up in our barn, I must admit I was surprised and delighted when my husband decided to treat us to new bikes this summer. Those fixer-uppers will be put into working order, they will, but it’s really nice to have something reliable and ready for use NOW. (I hope that doesn’t mean that I have to turn in my vintage girl card!)

We got touring/cruiser style ones. I love mine. Love it. In fact, I appreciate it a little more every time I ride it. I had a mountain bike for years, which was nice, but I like this better. I don’t feel much of a need to off-road it anymore, plus the frame on that one was always a little small for me, so the mountain bike has been neglected. I’m not training for a race or riding to work, so a super-sporty road bike would be a waste.  Nope. A nice comfy touring bike suits my needs perfectly now. And we’ve been taking them out pretty frequently…


More to come about some of the beautiful chunks of the Erie to Ohio trail we’ve managed to bike thus far!


Here at the tail-end of a summer that has quite often felt more like a spring (which has been pretty grand!) we’re being blasted by a late August heat wave. Whew! Out in the garden, I’m enjoying the sunflowers. Many are volunteers from suet we put out for the birds and I like seeing where they randomly decide to happen.


A stand of volunteer sunflowers in the midst of a bed.


This one popped up to be friends with our compass plant.

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Drying a seeded head that fell off due to its own weight so it can be set out for the birds.

Also adding some sunshine? My husband and I are off for a few days, and I thought it would be fun to borrow one of my mom’s dogs (because clearly 5 of our own isn’t enough—yes, I’m aware that sounds demented!) and it’s working out quite nicely. Having their happy and energetic golden retriever temporarily out of the way is allowing my dad to work on a project at their place, while here at our place, the little dogs are enjoying the chance to romp with their big friend.

014And our charming guest’s name? Sunny. :)

Cheese Dish Cover or Lampshade?

This weekend, my husband and I stumbled across one of those perfect garage sales:  the kind with oodles of stuff to poke through, where the sellers had similar tastes to ours, where the prices were reasonable, and where the sellers were ready and willing to bargain on top of all of that. So good! We made out like bandits, and we enjoyed chatting with some folks who were clearly kindred spirits.

One of my favorite finds? Check this brassy beauty out:


Originally, I’m guessing this served to cover a font of holy water in a church. The lady selling it had mentioned which church it came from but that information has already slipped my mind. Alzheimer’s, here I come! At any rate, seeing as we’re a bit short on holy water in our home, I was planning to put this to a more mundane use instead.

Using it as a food cover leaps out as an obvious option. I have one of those charming old woven ones, and what with all the bugs, it is a crucial accoutrement when eating outside. This could serve the same function. The cross serves as a great handle, plus there’s the added bonus of it being so heavy that the wind wouldn’t dislodge it. On the downside, no one would be able to see the food it was covering, but that doesn’t seem insurmountable. Maybe with some sort of pinterest-y tag hanging from it, or a sign propped up next to it?

Another option would be to turn it into a lampshade. That might take some engineering because of its weight, but I think the end result could be quite lovely. I may even have a lamp that would work, possibly, but I’ll need to rewire it. Rewiring lamps is going to need to be a skill I pick up soon.

Something to think on, at any rate!

Tomato Time!

075It is, at long last, finally tomato time!

This summer has been wet and kind of cool. While that has meant that our grass is nice & green and we haven’t had to fuss with watering our new plants at all, it has also meant that our tomatoes haven’t done very well. And don’t even get me started on the disaster that has been our okra.

But last week, we finally had tomatoes ready for harvesting. So harvest we did! And let me tell you, a BLT made with garden-fresh heirloom tomatoes? That is the taste of summer. Get all fancy and make it as a BLT &A &E? (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado and Egg, that is.) Extra delicious wonderfulness in sandwich form.

After a few days of wallowing in BLT land, last night my husband and I finally got around to making some other tasty tomato options. Now, I am not a cook, but I will assemble things. Like this, my more chopped-up-than-is-traditional version of a caprese salad (makes getting it into your mouth much more efficient!):
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All I did was chop up 3 different varieties of tomatoes from our garden, added some chopped fresh basil, also from our garden, and chunks of mozzarella. Then a tiny bit of olive oil, some freshly cracked black pepper, gently tossed by hand, and done. When the ingredients are this good, you really can’t go wrong.

My husband was more ambitious. He threw-down an amazing, made-completely-from-scratch-and-without-any kind-of-recipe-riff on chicken tikka masala/chicken curry. I am amazed I was able to be disciplined enough to attempt to take a picture at all before falling on my plate like a fiend. (Although the picture isn’t that good. At least I tried!) So. Flavorful. So. Good!!! He used a bunch of tomatoes and peppers from our garden and the complexity of the flavors was unreal. Yum! 010<