So: travel light

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Over the past 6 and a bit years, I’ve learned that traveling light is truly the way to go. Thanks to my former neighbor and friend Jeanette, I learned about a wonderful carry on suitcase that can hold up to 10 days stuff for me.

My Heys X case is turquoise, one of my favorite colors. (Bruce’s is orange, his favorite color.) It makes people in airports smile and it’s an instant conversation starter. Business travelers always want to know how much I can cram in it.

I always answer: “enough to go to Spain for 10 days and still have room for souvenirs.” And usually it’s not crammed full. Bruce and I have gone to Hawaii for a week, Barcelona and Madrid for 10 days, and made countless personal trips between Dallas and Toronto, all with these tiny bags.

Bruce and I use them whenever we travel. For work I usually put clothes and personal stuff in one side and then use the other for work paraphernalia that I don’t want to schlep in my computer bag.

Today, I have multiple costume changes in one half and a metal cookie box filled with alfajores (delicious lemon sandwich cookies with dulce de leche in the middle and sprinkled with coconut–our contribution to tonight’s dinner party), an umbrella, and two hardback books (gifts). It will either be empty on the way home or filled with Canadian delicacies. Although not Kraft Peanut Butter because you know what happened the last time I tried to import a jar into the US. Maybe one of my dear Canadian friends will mail me some (hint, hint).

My X Case looks a little dirty. That’s because I take a lot of regional jets where they gate check your bag. The conveyer belts get the hard plastic shell dirty. But a Magic Eraser or even a paper towel and some kind of cleaner gets everything off. I was just lazy last night.

My carry on bag is a backpack. Right now it’s holding birthday presents for my lovely friend Reesa. They are all from Brazil, a place she really wants to visit. I’ve also got my purse in there, the required quart ziploc bag of tiny toiletries, a sweater, a convertable scarf (it can turn into a poncho, a bolero jacket, a shrug), and my trusty iPad. I will probably fold the backpack up and put it in my suitcase on the way back. Unless shopping happens.

It’s almost time to board. And start plowing through that humongous pile of magazines Bruce is hauling in his backpack. It too may be empty on the way home. Unless shopping happens…

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So: to do list

Library

 

My oldest friends won’t be surprised that I still am a slave to my lists. In high school and college, they kept me on schedule and made me feel like I was in control. To this date, I have home to do lists and work to do lists. And despite my love of technology and constant grip on my iphone, they are on paper. Written in pen. In my handwriting. Usually with a brightly colored Sharpie.

One college friend pointed out to me that I don’t usually cross out. I like to check the box next to the completed task with a big mark. Because I am goal-oriented!

Today, nothing made me happier than to blow through my work to-do list. Yes, I was motivated because I promised myself if I dotted my eyes, crossed my ts and made it through my meetings with no new immediate to-dos, I would be leaving early. And I did at, wait for it, 3:20 pm. I know, not that much early, but trust me, I made my goal happen. And I was grateful (those of you in the ad biz know exactly what I mean).

Unfortunately, my next to-do list was waiting: my errands before I got home list. Luckily, that all got completed pretty quickly and now I don’t have a birthday gift rattling around in the back of my car and my dear old dad will get his Father’s Day gift on time. Whooohooo!

Now, I’m officially on vacation. Dinner has been eaten and Gs have been walked. Now, it’s time to pack, x a few household things off my list, and hopefully grab a great night’s sleep to fuel up for the fun ahead.

Truthfully I’ve never been a great “night before” sleeper, whether it was a big test, a job interview, a family vacation, a monumental occasion, etc. So, I’m in no hurry to plow through my list. I’ll need something to do later when George and I are up at 3 am.

My ipad is loaded up with several books plus lots of samples to enjoy. Yes, perhaps for tonight, if I can’t sleep. It’s my contingency plan to read at least one. Although I definitely do NOT want to sleep on the plane. Why? Because my newest, most favorite place to read, other than outside on the patio, is high above the earth in one of those Coors Light cans* in the sky.

Why? On the plane, especially in the fancy class I’ve cashed our hard-earned points for, it’s lovely and quiet. Best of all, your needs are taken care of. Warm nuts, ma’am? Another glass of wine, ma’am? Would you like a blanket, ma’am? A pillow, ma’am? A glass of water, ma’am? A freshly baked cookie, ma’am? Would you like a mint, ma’am? Believe me, I take advantage of the offers. And I enjoy every minute. At home, Bruce will hook me up with drinks and bedding, but he draws the line at cookies. He’s not a baker, you see.

As you’ve probably gathered, I fly a lot for my job and it really is a special treat to have legroom (remember I’m only 5’2″ so that’s really unbelievable that I’d mention it), not being elbowed by the person in the middle seat who is usually a lot bigger than me, and having someone being super nice to me because I might be the manager of a washed up musical act, a captain of industry (ha!), or just a lowly ad hack who enjoys gardening and hoarding points is kind of cool. The flight attendants just know that I’m up there in the “special section”. I sure wouldn’t pay the prices that it costs in dollars with my own hard earned cash, although I’m sure I’ve “paid” for it in some other way. Nothing is free these days, except for produce from the Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm (yes, that is a little commercial for my local pals—I may be setting up a u-pick situation if things get too out of control).

Don’t worry. Bruce is getting a fancy seat too, even though he’ll probably get bored with the stash of magazines we’ve saved up and watch the movie or chat with the person across the aisle from him. You know, another captain of industry!

We’re also lucky because we’re going to be horsing around at DFW with our pal Mike. He’s headed to Toronto and will be at the same dinner party we’re attending on Friday night. He’s been in Austin for the past couple of days for work and it just made a lot of sense for all of us to be on the same flight. You really don’t realize how much you enjoy spending time with your friends until those time are really few and far between because you all live so far apart now. Thank goodness for Facebook, cell phones, and the internet so you can keep up and keep in touch. And long weekends.

Ok, I’ve procrastinated enough. Produce is harvested. The forecast for the next four days is rainy/stormy so the Urban Farm will be fine. The Gs are going to have a wonderful time playing with their pals while we’re gone. Packing and my to do list are calling. And then a glass of wine reward.

Hope you’re enjoying your Thursday, the Gateway to the Weekend(TM) and that you have a fabulous weekend.

*I can’t take credit for nicknaming American Airlines’ planes. That credit goes to my Canadian pal Scott who was appalled the very first time he “enjoyed” a flight on AA from DFW to Las Vegas. They are my airline of necessity (hub is DFW) and every time I get on a plane, I hear his voice saying “flying Coors Light can”. If nothing else, it puts me in a better mood to be elbowed by the 6’4″ business man built like a linebacker crammed into the middle seat next to me.

Sow: friendly harvest

Today’s weather has been very ominous, but no rain at the office during work today. Hopefully at home, we got some free plant water this afternoon—there was a 30% chance, but that’s turning to 70% later tonight. In any case, tonight (or tomorrow morning if it rains before I get home) I’m going to do something that I absolutely love to do: pick stuff for my friends.

 

Filling a grocery bag with gallon Ziploc bags of freshly harvested stuff from the Urban Farm and knowing that other families will enjoy it makes me really happy. It’s a great gift that I’d love to receive (hint to all of you local readers with gardens and/or chickens). Hopefully soon I’ll be able to better predict what will be available so that I can give people a heads up of what’s coming. This week, they’ll get lots of leafy green stuff: red romaine, red velvet lettuce, green leaf lettuce, beet greens, rainbow chard.

Sometimes I accompany the produce with recipes. Here’s one of my favorites to give when I share kale and/or chard since many people aren’t too sure if they’re going to like those hardcore green leaves: kale and rainbow chard salad with peaches, blackberries & pine nuts.

kale and fruit salad

Photo from Napa Farmhouse 1885 blog. It’s a great source for ideas of what to do with a bounty of produce.

I’ve made it in the winter with pears and apples instead of peaches and no blackberries. The other day, I ran out of pine nuts so I used sunflower seeds (quite good). Experiment with the fruit and seeds/nuts you have and I’ll bet you come up with a great combo—let me know what you do and any fruit/nut combos that work especially well. I bet pomegranate seeds would be a good addition or different dried fruit. I like to make it before work on weeknights when we have dinner guests—it’s a big time saver since it’s supposed to marinade all day. Delicious with things from the grill or even by itself. Yum!

Since we’re eating so many salads, I’ve started making a salad for dinner when I make our work lunches. Wash and cut once, eat twice! Another huge timesaver when throwing together dinner on a weeknight. Tonight’s salad will be 85% from our garden. Only the goat cheese, sunflower seeds and vinaigrette are not from the land in our backyard. That gives me lot of happiness (although I’d love to have goats, but that’s a story for another day). And since it’s already done, there’s no post-work thinking involved.

Can you tell that I need a little break? Yes, me too. It’s definitely time for a mini-vacation. While the long weekend was fabulous, this weekend’s wedding in Niagara-on-the-Lake will be more of a getaway and bigger break from day-to-day reality. And the plane time will give me some uninterrupted reading time. I’ve been hording magazines and downloading books. I hope to cruise through lots of words. And not be online very much. So, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, please don’t worry. I may not have wifi and I’m not paying for international data roaming.

But if you have a moment, let me know your favorite green leafy salad recipe. As I mentioned we have a lot of green leaves to eat and George is the only four-legged family member who helps.

George: the newest member of the 3G Network

George: mouth full of tennis balls, not salad

 

Sow: move along mosquitos

Mosquitos love me to the point of leaving huge welts that last a long, long time. Big red marks that fade very, very slowly. They look ugly for a long time too.

It’s been a problem for me my whole life whenever I lived in a buggy place. When I was a little girl living in Indiana, our day camp had a sleep over for the and the next morning they had to call my mom to have her pick me up. Not only was I covered with bites, I also had a fever. The mosquitos had made me sick! And yes, like every other kid in the camp, I was doused with OFF before retiring to my sleeping bag. Didn’t work. Unfortunate, because I loved camping.

For whatever reason the mosquitos have always loved me. Maybe my blood is just tastier? Sweeter? Redder? Or maybe my skin is thinner and easier to bite?

Now that I live in the West Nile Virus capital of Texas (not really but you’d never know it from listening to the news about the West Nile epidemic we’re experiencing), I’ve taken matters into my own hands. The city threatens to aerial spray unless everyone does their part. So I do mine.

Remember, the Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm is all organic so I can’t Napalm the backyard with any old chemicals. And the 3G Network spends a fair amount of time back there too. But I need it to work so I can enjoy digging in the dirt and sitting on the patio on a warm breezeless evening.

Here’s my answer:

cedarcide

 

Using a hand-held fertilizer spreader, I covered the entire backyard with CedarCide this morning before work as George chased Godiva around the yard, stopping only to shred a toy. It was the perfect day to do it since it was a bit breezy and that helps with the spreading (and keeps the little bastards from biting me since they can’t fly if there’s wind).

Last year I had terrific luck with CedarCide after learning about it at North Haven Gardens. It lasts quite a while, smells pretty nice, and it doesn’t bother the Gs (or their humans) one bit. After this application, I’ll probably need to apply again in a month or so depending upon how much rain and wind we get.

Standing water is a no-no if you are trying to prevent the mozzies so the birdbaths get dumped and refilled daily. All four rain barrels also get dosed with Mosquito Dunks once a month. Don’t they look like little donuts?

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Yes, they are chemicals, but apparently the more natural ways of treating the water do not work nearly as well.

As for the Gs, they get monthly heartworm prevention medicine. Guinness was heartworm positive when we found him and had to go through treatment twice to get rid of the disgusting, murderous heartworms. It was bad enough that it was super expensive, but it was horrible for him to fight through. No walks for months. Poor Godiva didn’t enjoy having her big pal so sick for so long.

Just thinking about mosquitos makes me feel itchy and I’m inside! They are definitely one part of outdoor life in North Texas that I could do without.

Do you have mosquitos or other nasty bugs where you live? What do you do about them?

Sow: turbo harvest

Whew! Is it bad that I’d like another day to add to my long weekend? Or at least to today?

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thank you to those who have served, are serving, and will serve

We got closer to final on two large-ish DIY projects:

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Cabinets in the dining room in progress

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Cabinets in dining room finished! Just need a countertop

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Cabinets installed in lounge. Temporary countertop from previous cabinet in place for now.

After all that, Bruce quickly cut the grass (with all the rain it grew 4 inches this week) and I headed to the urban farm to do a little grocery shopping.

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Rainbow chard

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mixed greens

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red romaine

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carrots

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chili peppers

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beets

One special thing for today besides feeding the composter tons of rain wrecked lettuce: purple beans

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not sure why one was green

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they turn green when you cook them (blanched them with a few peas)

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see how green they got?

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just a few peas tonight

I also planted basil, pulled up the last of the spinach, found some rouge basil that must have seeded itself from fall’s crop, and staked one of the pepper plants.

Sure was nice to spend a little time digging in the dirt. See why I’d like another day?

So: pancakes and pedicures

Too wet to garden. What’s a gal to do on a long weekend Sunday?

I slept in. Of course I went to bed at 1 since we had dinner guests (humans and 4 extra canines of a variety of ages and sizes) so it really wasn’t sleeping in exactly, it just felt like it.

Several large cups of coffee and a bit of NYTimes online. Then there were multigrain pancakes, a human and G favorite on long lazy Sundays.

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And now bliss o bliss: a much needed pedicure. The place I’m at has fancy massaging chairs so I’m taking full advantage and getting the works done. Extra massage, parafin, hot stones. It’s a lovely, extra indulgent treat on a gloomy and wet morning. And due to a scheduling mix up, my service was delayed by 30 minutes so they threw in manicure too. Whoohoo!

Not sure what treats the rest of today will bring with our uncertain weather, except a bit of dark chocolate and perhaps some wine on the patio if it’s not too humid or damp. In any case, I’ll be sporting fancy feet.

What are you doing to relax and treat yourself today?

So: desparkling

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no more sparkles! sitting in the chair, head full of chemicals, processing away

Every 6 weeks or so I visit Frances. She’s my hair desparkler and change agent. She can always sense when it’s time to change something whether it’s length or colors. And she’s always one step ahead of my hair fatigue with the perfect suggestion.

No boredom is allowed in Frances’ world. The woman is a ball of energy and it’s difficult to be anything but energized by her. Dynamic. Vibrant. Enthusiastic. All good words to describe her. I always leave in a much better place than when I came in.

In addition to being a senior colorist and stylist, Frances teaches other stylists, does elaborate Pinterest crafts, and makes fancy cakes for friends’ birthdays, weddings, and baby showers.

Her cakes rival anything you can buy at the most chi-chi bakeries. You name a character or an object, she’ll recreate it. For one friend’s birthday, she made a Louis Vouton purse from cake and fondant!

It’s never a dull moment on the days I get my hair done. And it’s always such a treat to hang out with her for nearly three hours. Getting my hair done by Frances is more like visiting a friend than just going to get a haircut. And it’s the perfect relaxing start to a long weekend.

Thank you, Frances, for all you do to help me look — and feel — my best!

Sow: purple bean dreams

It’s only Thursday. I’ve wanted it to be Friday for three days now. Is that bad?

First of all, I’m not discontented, just really tired. Our lovely stormy weather, lots of physical labor, moving at work, moving stuff at home, dinner guests on Tuesday night, and a variety of other things have made me feel drained. Wiped. Exhausted. More so than I’ve been in a long time. Weird thing is many of my local friends are feeling the same way. Maybe it’s allergies too?

So last night, I went to bed at 9:15. I was done. And I knew bed was the only place I should be. I was asleep pretty much instantly and probably could have slept until 9:15 am or longer this morning. (Hence no post: too tired to form sentences.)

However, my eye’s on a prize that’s keeping me energized: the three day Memorial Day weekend, a three day work week next week, and a four day traveling weekend after that.

I’m giddy about the Memorial Day weekend for more than sleeping. While we have a number of house DIY projects that need to be worked on, three days off from work should give me plenty of time to play in the dirt and enjoy the bounty of the Urban Farm.

Tuesday evening, I saw these babies starting to form:

Purple beans!

Purple beans!

Aren’t they pretty? I love growing stuff I’ve never seen before. They look positively Dr. Seussian. Their flowers are also purple. And yes, the baby beans are very easy to find amongst the green leaves. Like the packet says, they seemed to be easy to grow.

Don’t worry, they turn green when you cook them—but wouldn’t purple beans be a cool thing to eat? Or a mixture of green ones with the purple? Maybe throw in some yellow tomatoes for fun. Or red peppers. You could have a purple veggie plate with eggplant, purple peppers, purple kale, purple cauliflower, purple potatoes, purple carrots, purple beans, and purple tomatoes, garnished with some purple basil. Who wants to come over for that dinner?

So much good stuff is happening — tons to harvest, tons to check. Heck, maybe I’ll even do a little bit tonight. After I ripped out the cilantro that was on its last legs, I picked up some beautiful basil that due to the crazy weather has not yet been planted. The basil I planted with the tomatoes has been dwarfed by the tomato-zillas and now with the bird net up, it’s also harder to get to for a handful. If this new basil grows like the stuff I planted last summer, it’s going to be amazing.

It’s been a scary weather week, but the plants appear to like the extremes. Everything that’s supposed to be green is vibrant. The young veggies seem to double in size every day. And the sun plus the humidity seems to make everything thrive (except for people, who complain about getting soaked when they go outside). It’s a hopeful time and it gives me a boost just thinking about what’s going on.

I leave you another beautiful thought:

Saw this beautiful image on Pinterest.  It is a typeface called Fruitcake designed by Jacqueline Wong

Saw this beautiful image on Pinterest.
It is a typeface called Fruitcake designed by Jacqueline Wong

So: Oklahoma

today's weather

today’s weather

After yesterday’s horrific tornado in Oklahoma and with our own thunderstorms/hail/potential for tornados on the way, everyone’s a bit pensive and glued to Weather Bug, the Weather Channel, and their local TV news.

The Grammar Belle has written a lovely post today that explains the relationship those in the Dallas area have with the folks just 1 hour away over the border in Oklahoma, so I’m reblogging No Red River Rivalry Today. If you pray, please add Oklahoma to your prayers. If you have the ability to give, please consider sharing with Oklahoma. In any case, hug your loved ones extra tight today.

Updated Noon CT: 

The Pioneer Woman’s blog post

So: a break + photos

So, you haven’t heard from me for a few days. Unfortunately life has a funny way of filling up all of my writing spaces when I skip a day. Or maybe subconsciously I wanted a May 2-4 weekend (aka Victoria Day weekend) last weekend instead of Memorial Day this coming weekend. Not sure, but all I know is sentences did not get strung together and very few photos got taken. But maybe this post will make up for it!

Friday night we went to the BARC (Build A Rescue Clinic) Gala for Mazie’s Mission, the awesome rescue organization that saved George. Since it was a 1970s party, Bruce and I put on our vintage best:

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100% authentic 1970s polyester, baby!

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many guys with real hairdos like Bruce’s chose to accessorize with big hair

The outfits were even more amazing than last year. Lots of tie-dye and polyester but also:

great shoes

great shoes (don’t worry, fishy isn’t real)

fun spinning disco ball centerpieces

fun spinning disco ball centerpieces

Mazie’s Mission needs $3 million to build their clinic. As I mentioned in last post, Mazie’s Mission was founded by veterinarian Dr. Erin Shults to bring a self-sustaining, focused approach to animal welfare with the purpose of eliminating unnecessary euthanasia. They provide medical care, expert forensic evidence and adoption assistance to shelters, rescue groups, first responders and other non-profit animal welfare groups. The ultimate goal of Mazie’s Mission will be to establish a world class hospital and lifetime sanctuary for the care of those animals that cannot find a home.

My photos aren’t great (lighting wasn’t ideal to shoot these photos), but they’ll give you an idea. And if you’re interested in learning more or making a donation, visit their website. Or ask me. I might be able to answer your question too.

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aerial view of the clinic grounds

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another view of the clinic buildings

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architect’s rendering of the buildings

It’s a great cause and one I’m definitely proud to support since George was a beneficiary of Mazie’s Mission and Dr. Schults’ skill as a veterinary surgeon. She is an amazing person and it would be fantastic to help her bring her vision into reality.

Speaking of George, he was a bit of a mess yesterday:

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poor Georgie hurt his toe! he’s wearing a human’s sock (mine) to keep from licking it.

Notice his “bandaged” right foot. We woke up to George licking his foot. Sometime between his final let out of the night and his first let out of the am, George was most likely bit by a bug. He licked his swollen toe until it was nice and red. Since it was Sunday, our vet clinic wasn’t open but luckily we have a good friend (hi Christine!) who is a vet tech. She helped us to figure out what we should do to make him more comfortable and also if we needed to go to the emergency clinic (no, thank goodness). Because we had a bunch of medications on hand (a benefit of having Guinness), we were able to get him somewhat fixed up and feeling better fast.

First, I soaked his foot in Epsom salts for 15 minutes. Then I applied some Tritop antibiotic cream, fed him a delicious Benedryl and Rimadyl (anti-inflamatory) wedge of Laughing Cow Lite cheese (the best pill hider for the Gs), and “bandaged” his foot with a sock (mine) and some paper painters’ tape (to keep sock on and prevent sock from getting wet from licks). There was no morning walk for poor George and he woefully waited at the big bay window for Godiva and Guinness to return. Even though he had no mobility issues, we thought it would be better for him to rest and relax (and he’s good at snoozing).

His foot got soaked 3 times yesterday (plus ointment application and a clean sock) and once so far today. His toe seems much less swollen and it is definitely not as red. I saw a bump that looks like an ant bite (itchy!) so maybe that was what happened. If it’s not better by tomorrow morning, our vet tech friend wants me to take him to the vet. They are planning the Mortroski Wing at the vet clinic, so why not, right? Seriously, he’ll be going if it’s not better tonight.

Other weekend highlights included braving the crowds at Costco on a Saturday (not recommended unless you pack your patience), cleaning the very dusty and dirty Mortroski Midcentury, continuing to put away the stuff relocated because of the flooring and trim installation, the usual assortment of household chores, and finally some cabinet installation that hit a speed bump (it has since been figured out so we can hopefully work on it more tonight):

getting the new dark wood cabinets in place -- they will have drawers so being light colored on the inside will help us see what's in there

getting the new cabinets in place

No time for harvesting except for the peas (tons of snow peas and a cupful of sweet English peas for Bruce) for Saturday night supper, a bit of spinach for Sunday morning’s omelette, some lettuce for Sunday lunch’s salmon burgers (nice to have a produce stand in the backyard), so I squeezed some in before work today. Other than a plethora of weeds, today’s haul was tons of rainbow chard, red romaine, lots of mixed lettuce of all types, baby carrots (the real ones not the shaved down large ones), radishes, and chioggia and Detroit red beets.

Check out my biggest chioggia beet to date:

beetzilla!

beetzilla!

Yes, I’ll be roasting beets when I get home tonight.

The tomato forrest was bird netted this morning. I was especially worried about the succulent little sweet 100s — they look like they’re potential bird candy. Found a bit of blossom rot on the Burpee Big Boys, but after some research they could be too wet or not have enough calcium to support themselves. I will pick up some calcium for them later this week and watch their water supply.

Other than that, it’s back to work. We moved floors on Friday so it’s been a bit chaotic in the office for the past few days and rather noisy today with drills, saws, etc. Kind of reminds me of home!