Thursday, June 17, 2010

Patio Cat

Morty likes hanging out on the patio, and the shady spot underneath the dwarf Japanese Maple is one of his favorite places to nap. The problem is that he rarely gets a decent snooze going before Zoe starts to pester him.

He then leaps onto the hot tub for some peace, only to be accosted by the hummingbirds who have no fear of him. They know that under the best of circumstances they are far faster than he and enjoy dive-bombing him after they have had their fill of sugar-water.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Zoe at Eleven Months...

Zoe turns eleven months old this month, and she is still undersized. I think I caught Oscar whispering "GROW" in her ear while she slept recently... What she lacks in size she makes up for in personality, or at least raw spunk. She pushes Claris, easily double Zoe's weight, around like a little tyrant. She does not beg for but demands and commands attention and treats from her people, walks into every room like she owns it and insists on the most comfortable spots, pillows and blankets wherever she decides to lay down. Don't get me wrong, though; she is not a bad puppy, just a handful.

The day I brought her home she walked into the house as if she were the Queen of Sheba herself. She never had the period of adjustment that the other dogs did; she just knew her place and settled in immediately.

She is also loving, funny and playful. Her favorite place to be is wherever you are, usually leaning or sleeping against you. As I type this, she is asleep at my feet, with her head resting on my toes... Although she eats as if she were starving, she never growls if you get near her or touch her bowl. She is quick to offer her belly to rub if she thinks you need a little pick-me-up, and even shares the sock she has been carrying around all day, in case you need a little gnaw, too.

Zoe is very much a puppy, and her energy feels almost boundless at times. She is more agile than any other Lab I have known, and faster, too. She easily catches butterflies, bees and the occasional fowl that has foolishly crossed the fence into the "Doggy Danger Zone". She loves to stalk all manner of creatures, from the goats against the fence to poor Claris who is only trying to take a nap in a shady spot. Even if she did not get the usual Labrador size, she did get their love of the hunt!

So Zoe is about to crest the one year mark. She still has a little growing to do on the outside, and a lot to do on the inside. It is so interesting to watch a puppy grow and to see what sort of dog they will become.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Got little tomatoes?

I love cherry and grape tomatoes, but never seem to eat them all before they go bad. If you are like me, you either hate this because you paid too much for them or you worked too hard growing them to allow them to go quietly.

I usually have a jar of roasted peppers in the pantry, so I grab that and combine the two overnight in the fridge (the juice that the peppers are in adds a nice flavor to the tomatoes and marries their flavors).

The next day, give them a spin in the food processor until they are nice and smooth. I add a little olive oil and some spices (depending on your tastes- you can make it spicy or go for the Italian herbs- whatever your preference). When smooth, pour into a saucepan and cook it over low heat until the color darkens and its smell starts to waft through the kitchen.

You can serve it over any sort of pasta you like, but it really seems to go best with pasta shapes as opposed to strands. The shapes really grab and hold that delicious sauce.

For Oscar I add a little cheese to the top, for me a nice pinch of basil.

This sauce can be frozen and helps make all those tomatoes worth the money or the time & effort (depending on your investment)!

Roses passed their prime?

I have several shrub roses that brighten up the landscape, but they never last long enough! I just could not let all those pretty petals go to waste, so I decided to make a nice rose-petal facial scrub.

I picked the petals that were about to go brown; you can tell that they are the right ones to pick, as they come away easily from the stem. You will want to get a nice bowlful, and then lay them out and pick out the foreign objects and allow the insects to escape (you will find small aphids and their friends living in the flowers; they are not part of this recipe as who wants critters in their scrub?), then wash the petals in cool water.

I like a scrub with brown sugar, milk, egg whites, honey, dried oranges and oats. You can use whatever you like, but be sure you do not use anything too harsh. When I have almond milk I often use that instead of regular milk, and have been known to add some fresh aloe juice if it is available. DO NOT add anything you are not sure about; you can give yourself one heck of a rash if you get a little too creative with the botanicals. Just because it is natural does not mean it is your skin's friend! Also , some fruits and berries can stain skin; you do not want to end up looking like Violet Beaureguarde, now do you?

I pop all the ingredients into the food processor and give them a whirl until they are as smooth. You should refrigerate your mix, as it can go bad and you do not want to put funky scrub on your skin!

Before you try the scrub, I ALWAYS recommend you put a little dollop on the inside of your forearm and leave it on for a few minutes to see if you react less than nicely to your scrub. Better a little welt on your arm than a face full of them! Use the scrub within a few days of making it.

It makes my skin soft, silky and smooth and I feel good about making the Roses last just a little longer!


Do you feel the pressure of using all the produce and food you buy before it goes bad? I have found the frugal & tasty way to make sure that nothing goes to waste in our fridge. Each night I peek through the drawers and look for anything that might be getting a little less than perfect, and work out the way I can extend its useful life.

This weekend I had some peppers I intended to stuff, but each dinner I could not entice Oscar with stuffed peppers so here I was with peppers that were just about to go soft. I cored, seeded and sliced them and then marinated them overnight in a nice vinegrette dressing.

The next day they were roasted on the grill, ready to be used in recipes that called for roasted peppers! Just put them on a grill pan or in a grill basket, turn every 5 minutes, and in 15 minutes or so, you have some fire-roasted goodness.