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…

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

Sunny

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.

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

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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. ūüôā

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:

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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<

Weeds are Where It’s At

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Echinacea, sunflowers, and Joe-Pye weed blooming in our garden one misty morning in 2010.

My high school field biology teacher always used to say “Weeds are where it’s at!” with great enthusiasm as we keyed out various specimens. And he was so right! But I like to do a bit of re-branding when I refer to the weeds that I like most: those would be wildflowers. So my updated version would be “Wildflowers are where it’s at”.

We have quite a few native perennial wildflowers in our garden. Because we collect rare, often non-native trees, I think it’s especially important for us to balance that out by filling in with a lot of native flora. That way, we’re still providing habitat and food for all sorts of bugs, butterflies, and birds in our yard.

I’m sure our neighbors think our version of a cottage garden is a bit overblown and bizarre. They probably think we should weed more when they see our tall clouds of Joe-Pye Weed blooming. (Imagine how they’d feel if they knew I planted the goldenrod on purpose, too!) ¬†And to be fair, the Joe-Pye is a bit unwieldy. I will grant that. But when I see 30 goldfinches (!!!) sitting on the spent blooms together like I did yesterday, picking out seeds to eat, I can’t help but wish more people would investigate gardening with wildflowers. ¬†And in addition to all of the finches, I’m always seeing hordes of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds zipping around the garden, visiting our wildflowers.

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Tall ironweed

Anyhow, I am overjoyed that an ironweed plant (so named because their stems are very hard and sturdy) decided to shoot up and join the native wildflower party in one of our front beds. I LOVE ironweed. Usually spotted in meadows during late summer, the sight of their gorgeous deep purple blooms has always been a welcome harbinger of autumn to me.

050I wish my photos came closer to capturing just how vivid that purple is. In person it is so deep and vibrant, much less washed-out looking than I was able to capture. There is just no mistaking that purple. There are several varieties of ironweed. Given that our volunteer is about 7-8 feet tall, I’m guessing the variety must be¬†Vernonia gigantea¬†(tall ironweed) but I could be wrong. (I should probably really honor that field bio teacher and key it out, but not today.)

Lovely!

Our “New” Little Black Corvette

1961 Schwinn 5-Speed Corvette 006

1961 Schwinn 5-Speed Corvette

No, we did not get a new car, and my apologies to Prince. Frankly, what we did get is something that I think is almost better: through a friend-of-a-friend, my husband was able to pick up an amazing, new-to-us 1961 Schwinn 5-speed Corvette bicycle. Isn’t it lovely? The design is quite beautiful and apparently these bikes are rather hard to find. They were only manufactured for 18 months!

The details just get me:

1961 Schwinn 5-Speed Corvette 014

rear reflector

1961 Schwinn 5-Speed Corvette 012

starburst logo, graphic black and white brake lines

Beautifully made, plus the overall feel is pretty cushy. Yes, it is a bit heavy compared to modern bikes, but once you get going it’s a smooth and comfy ride.

The bike came from a fairly serious collector who was unloading some fascinating items from his varied collections. My husband was able to scoop up a few other great things, more to come on those shortly. Hopefully just more to come in general! This summer has been very busy. I had to make a choice: play or blog? Playing won. Lots of bike riding and kayaking when not working like the proverbial dog. Now I want to work on getting back posting more regularly!