Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#47 & #67 - Blueberries and Perennials

Over the last few weeks, I've spent quite a bit of time working on my backyard.  Among all of the regular tasks of initial spring weeding and keeping the lawn at a manageable height, I also have added lots of new plants.

Last summer, I had the brainstorm that since I already have a small patch of strawberries - which I annually battle the chipmunk to be able to actually eat - I should also plant some blueberries.  It was too late in the year to plant them at that point, but my friend Annette let me visit her yard and taste test all of the varieties she grows.  Until I tried her five different types, I hadn't realized how much of a difference in flavor there is between them.  I was immediately taken by the NorthCountry variety; they taste just like wild berries.  Later in the summer, my friend Nina took me on the annual garden club tour, and I saw someone growing blueberries in large fabric pots.  I liked that idea too ... easier to keep weeded, pick, and discourage wildlife from eating my precious berries!   So, this spring, I ordered pots, got the NorthCountry plants (along with two other varieties for pollination purposes), and now I have a tiny blueberry patch just for me!

The first lily from Mom - a year after I planted it.
Looking south from where the fountain goes ... all new plants!
The other major gardening project that I had on my list was working on completing the perennial bed down the entire length of my east fence.  I added the fence in the summer of 2007 and quickly realized that I didn't like mowing right next to it.  So, the next spring, my Mom gave me some beautiful lilies for my birthday and two friends gave me other perennials ... all together about 6 feet worth of flowers.  I've added about the same amount each of the last two years as well ... all perennials, mostly gifts.  When I put the goal of finishing the length of the fence on my list, I expected to work on it over more than one year.  However, I was on a roll over Memorial Day weekend and despite a cold rain dug a whopping length of 33 feet more planting area and started to fill it in.  I discovered several major rocks along the way which I didn't even try to remove ... I put leftover tile around the side of one and will use it as the location of my solar fountain.  Last night, I added the final plant in the stretch.  Now I can simply enjoy the blooms through the summer ... currently, the roses, forget-me-nots, and columbine are the most colorful.  And, I have my very first iris bloom (planted last fall) from a patch that was originally my grandmother's.

Monday, June 13, 2011

300 Days In ...

It's hard for me to believe that I've been working on my DayZero goals for the better part of a year now.  It seems like I've just started, and yet, a few days ago, I realized that I could no longer easily list all of the items that I've checked off when someone asked. 

The last three months have seen two big projects in my life ... the first was my murder mystery party (which was part of my list and highly enjoyable) and the second was fixing my roof (not on the list).  I'm very happy to have a brand new chimney and steel roof; however, it was an expense I had planned for a few years out rather than this spring.  And, though the contractors were only here for a week, I spent much more time agonizing over who to hire, how to pay for it, etc.  I'm also looking at time commitments and realizing that a certain portion of my summer is going to need to be spent fixing the interior water damage from this spring's ice dams (the reason for the new roof).  I don't mind painting, but a few spots will need some plaster repair (a new skill for me to learn) and two rooms are going to involve moving lots of stuff in order to have enough room to work.

Along with the big projects, I've been doing quite a bit of work in my yard and am very close to finishing two of those goals.  I'm over halfway through with two of the three year-long goals - playing my harp once a week and donating to charities.  I've been taking lots and lots of photos for the photography course I'm taking and have the first assignment almost ready to send in (just one more photo to print).  I've decided to incorporate some of my reading tasks into the goal that I always set for our library's adult summer reading program.  And, while I work on fixing up the other rooms, I'll be redecorating the bathroom as well.   So, I have lots planned for the summer even though the big task of repainting isn't on my DayZero list.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Those numbers don't mean much

This post is in honor of my friend Leisa whose birthday is this week ...

Sometimes it's hard to face the years where your age ends in a zero.  My friends who are older than I am tell me that life just gets better.  You become more of the person inside of you rather than the person that others want/need you to be.  You stop worrying as much about the opinions of people who really don't matter in your life.  You find what your passions are ... anything from crafting to skiing to writing to cooking ... and you have more free time to pursue them (either because your children are out on their own or you don't put your entire self into your career or some other reason).  You learn what your emotional needs are and find ways to meet them through other people - and, yes, it's probably the plural people and not the singular person.  Mostly, what they say seems to sum up in the old adage that age equals wisdom.  And, I would certainly say that wisdom is worth having even if acquiring it can sometimes be painful.

As part of my birthday party this year, I put out a "tip" jar for the bartender (me) with a twist.  Instead of cash, I asked people to give me their thoughts and advice on getting older.  Here's what they said:
  • have TONS [underlined 3 times] of fun, you won't live forever!
  • feed the kitty
  • numbers matter less than how you feel inside
  • get a fan, the hot flashes are murder!
  • life begins at 40!
  • eat more cheesecake
  • be yourself and everything else will fall into place
  • younger men can be a good choice
  • keep smiling with your chin up - good for "under your chin"
  • The Best [underlined 4 times] is yet to come!!
  • It's all beautiful, it's all a miracle
  • Lift up bras really work
  • Make FUN your #1 priority!
  • Don't sit in chairs even if someone offers one
  • The older you get the better life is :)
Thanks, everyone, for the advice. And, to everyone who is facing one of those dreaded "zero years" out there (and I know that this week that includes both Leisa and my sister Janet):  Happy birthday and don't stress out about it, you'll still feel the same inside as the day before!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Recipes for the Bookworm and the Sexy Librarian

For a sweet kid-friendly cocktail, try this ...
The Bookworm
The Bookworm
1.5 oz. apple juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
3 oz. ginger ale
Mix these together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a gummy worm!

This cocktail was something that I didn't spend too much time experimenting with ... though I am very grateful for the opinions of all of the family members who tried it at Easter.  Everyone agreed that the gummy worm garnish was a must (even those who don't like to actually eat gummy worms!).  I liked the taste of an even higher ratio of pineapple juice but more will make the juices look particularly murky and somewhat unappetizing.

The second cocktail took much more time.  I wanted all of the ingredients to have a symbolic connection to librarianship, and I decided to use Benedictine fairly early on.  However, one of the other ingredients that I really wanted to include was Godiva liqueur (symbolizing social activism).  What I didn't think about was that the Godiva has a creamy base, and it looked like really old sour milk when I added other ingredients (especially things like vodka).  I did lots of experimentation - even trying the addition of ginger ale which got rid of the curdled aspect but added a light brown foam that also looked weird.  A friend suggested garnishing that version with a chocolate curl, but it still didn't look right and actually wasn't all that tasty.  At that point, I had the recipe down for the Bookworm, so I decided to drop the Godiva and use the Bookworm recipe as a starting point.  Because how else do Sexy Librarians start than as Bookworms, right? :)  After that point, the recipe developed much more smoothly.

The Sexy Librarian
The Sexy Librarian
1 oz. apple juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
1.5 oz. vodka
splash of Benedictine
Mix ingredients together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cherry on a cocktail sword.

And the symbolic meanings are:  apple juice represents acquisition of knowledge (an apple for the teacher),  pineapple juice is a symbol of hospitality because libraries welcome all sorts of people, vodka stands for all those long classic Russian novels (everybody knows the title of War and Peace even if they haven't read the book), Benedictine is for the monks of the middle ages who kept the written word alive with their illuminated manuscripts, the cherry is a nod to those steamy romances whose readership is huge, and the cocktail sword is the librarian's tool for cutting through red tape!