“Another” Is Never Enough November 13, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Simplify Your Life, Sustainable Living.
Tags: Ego, Home & Garden, Shopping, Simplify, Sustainable Living
Have you ever noticed hunters of houses on TV who claim they want “character” in their next house . . . only to declare, once there, that the kitchens and baths will have to be gutted bare?
Because they’re out of date! And don’t have double sinks!
Homeowners who can’t cook worth a lick white-wash the character they claim to be after by removing charming butlers pantries and hand-crafted cabinets to create room for stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.
A cookie cutter home with a cookie cutter kitchen that others of like ilk will covet.
“Ooh . . . I love your new appliances!”
As hunters of houses troll through ponderous preposterous closets fit for a queen, they exclaim that the size is far too small to act as a suitable receptacle for their prodigious pile of possessions.
Even if the closet is large enough to park a small tour bus.
And, speaking of parking, if you’re invited for a visit, don’t forget to comment on the changes wrought to the wrought iron railings surrounding the gate to the palatial estate.
These grasping social climbers care what you think.
Facing their reflection in the myriad of mirrors gracing the halls and walls of their humble domain convinces them they are NOT enough as they are, so they look outside themselves for applause, accolades, and approval to fill the void.
Tag! You’re it!
Instead of building character with character building pursuits, materialists hide behind things, and stuff their houses with symbols of status and other such stuff ~ one eye in the mirror and the other focused on the eyes of onlookers.
Characters who use external reference points aren’t in the market to buy a comfortable house (with character) in which to reside, fireside, they want a place with space to impress neighbors, friends, and pizza delivery guys.
They’re addicted to buying another pair of shoes, a new handbag, and fancy cars and yachts to raise their estimation in our eyes.
No matter how many suits, dresses, shoes, handbags, scarves, coats, skirts, gowns, pants, mittens, slacks, undergarments, shirts, blouses, and stainless steel appliances they cram into their closets and lives, it’s never enough to fill the void.
As soon as one desire is met, the grasping greedy Ego creates another. And another. And another.
And “another” is never enough.
Whatever it has, the insatiable Ego wants MORE. It’s a greedy grasping thing, never satisfied for long. Using Ego as a barometer creates unnecessary suffering for us and those around us.
When we learn to ignore Ego’s need to impress, we are free to be as we are.
Aah . . . that’s better!
Related post: Putting Ego In Its Place (Suzicate)
Palma Sola Botanical Park October 13, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Home & Garden, Nature.
Tags: Botanical garden, Gardens, Native Plants, Photography
Just a short bike ride away, a mere 3 miles through the trails at Robinson Preserve, lies a not-so-hidden garden.
Filled with interesting plants of assorted shapes and various sizes . . .
And the occasional visitor . . .
Some plants are crane-your-neck tall . . .
Others are lively but dainty and small . . .
A few boast leaves resembling large floppy elephant ears . . .
Echoes of the Big Bad Wolf ~> “All the better to hear you with, my dear.”
Aah . . . that’s better!
A Forward Look, Backwards September 30, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Poetry, Special Events.
Tags: Birthday, Family, Garden, Home, Music, Parents, Poetry
Today is Mom’s Birthday!
She’s “twenty-one plus” . . . and holding.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
A few years ago, we wanted mom and dad to move into a smaller place. Mom didn’t want to move. Dad was on the fence. To encourage her to reconsider, I sent her a poem for her birthday ~ A Forward Look, Backwards.
A Forward Look, Backwards
Mom, as you know, we’ve moved around a bunch
One place at breakfast, another by lunch
In contrast, you’re more like an Oak tree
Roots deep in the soil, branches floating free
From the coast of Maine, to Paris at night
Hiking and biking, you’ve seen many a sight
But your roots remained in the Garden State
And your memories there have grown in weight
For forty-three years, you’ve stayed in one place
Adding rings ’round your trunk with grit and grace
Roots sinking deeper, memories growing
But, Mom, at long last – your age is showing
Four children grown, and off on their own
The seeds you planted have now been resown
And most of your rooms sit empty and bare
Silent echoes of laughter filling the air
One thing we have learned over the years
Moving about is no cause for tears
In each place, our memories came too
Now, I ask, what are you going to do?
Will you stay in a house, too big by far
Or . . . “would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are . . .
Or would you rather be a mule?” *
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM . . . whatever you decide.
The poem didn’t work.
A few more birthdays came and went. In time, life made the decision for her ~ dad died last June and our childhood house has since been sold.
Life’s like that . . . always moving forward, even if we’re looking backwards.
Aah . . . that’s better!
* * * * *
* The rest of the stanza from Would You Like To Swing On A Star:
A mule is an animal with long funny ears
He kicks up at everything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak . . .
A Rich Spot Of Earth July 30, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Home & Garden, Nature.
Tags: Environmental Defense Fund, Monticello, Thomas Jefferson
The first 150 donors to contribute $25 or more to EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) by tomorrow, July 31st, will receive this jewel of a book:
A Rich Spot of Earth is packed with nearly 200 rich, full color images of Thomas Jefferson’s famous gardens at Monticello. Between the images Peter Hatch, Monticello’s master gardener, shares his experiences raising Jefferson’s favorite fruits, vegetables, and flowers over 3 decades—including how climate change has negatively impacted the health of the gardens.
“Peter Hatch’s vibrant and enthusiastic passion for preserving Thomas Jefferson’s farming legacy at Monticello reminds us all of the time-tested continuity and historical root of this kind of agriculture.”—Alice Waters (Alice Waters)
“In this fascinating book, Peter Hatch wonderfully weaves together his deep understanding of Monticello’s soil with his scholarly knowledge of Jefferson’s legacy as a gardener.”—Andrea Wulf, author of Founding Gardeners (Andrea Wulf 2011-10-20)
“Peter Hatch is the ultimate authority on America’s ultimate vegetable garden. Learn all about the genius of the place. Hatch’s fascinating account will enrich your garden and your life.”—Amy P. Goldman, Chair of the Board, Seed Savers Exchange (Amy P. Goldman 2011-10-20)
“Peter Hatch brings the horticultural legacy of Thomas Jefferson to life. A Rich Spot of Earth affords us a clear and compelling view into the revolutionary thinking of Jefferson, illuminating for the reader his approach to food, diversity, democracy, and freedom – making the genius of Jefferson, perhaps, as relevant today as at any other time in American history.”—P. Allen Smith, author of The Garden Home Series (P. Allen Smith 2011-10-25)
“Elegantly produced and artfully augmented by stunning, evocative photographs of the estate and the bounty it produces, Hatch’s homage establishes Jefferson as the clear forefather of modern organic and sustainable garden movements.”—Carol Haggas, Booklist (Carol Haggas Booklist)
Anticipating healthy living advice that would be extolled two centuries later, Jefferson wrote, “I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that . . . as a condiment for the vegetables which constitute my principal diet.”
Aah . . . that’s better!
To learn more: Environmental Defense Fund ~ Claim Your Book Today!
Fresh Off The Vine July 27, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Home & Garden, Vegetarian Recipes.
Tags: Bruschetta, Olive oil, Salad, Tomato, Vegetarian Recipes
Tomatoes scream . . . IT’S SUMMER!
It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. ~ Lewis Grizzard
If you have a bumper crop of vine-ripened beauties sitting on your counter, here are a few serving suggestions:
* Check out Andra’s simple and elegant Caprese Salad. Tomatoes also brighten up Cobb, Caesar, and Chef Salads.
* Serve Shrimp Cocktail in a martini glass on a bed of shredded lettuce and chopped tomato seasoned with a lemon vinaigrette.
A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins. ~ Laurie Colwin
* Slide tomatoes into sandwiches and wraps. Or whip up a batch of Tomato Cheese Spread for crackers or bagel crisps.
* Dice tomatoes into pasta salad, couscous, or rice salad. Or toss hot buttered noodles with roasted garlic, tomatoes, and crumbled feta.
* Stuff tomatoes with rice and cheese. Or risotto.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in fruit salad.
* Make homemade salsa or pico de gallo to serve with tortilla chips, quesadillas, burritos, or tacos.
* Whip up a batch of tomato soup or Bloody Mary mix.
* Combine diced tomatoes with fresh corn kernels, black beans, and scallions to make a colorful Fiesta Salad. Toss with oil, vinegar, lime juice, and Tabasco.
* Make a Tomato Sandwich or a PBLT ~ Peanut Butter, Lettuce, and Tomato.
A medium tomato has 35 calories. lots of vitamins, and virtually no fat or sodium.
* Lecsó, a spicy Hungarian dish, puts summer-ripe tomatoes and hot peppers to good use. Serve over rice or noodles.
* Add a chopped tomato to a Spinach Rice Casserole.
* Tuck a slice of tomato into a Grilled Cheese sandwich or Panini.
Aah . . . that’s better!
What’s your favorite way to enjoy tomatoes at the peak of the season?
All That Mildews Is Not Mold July 9, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Home & Garden, Humor.
Tags: Health & Wellness, Humor, Mildew, Mold, Vinegar
Use only in well-ventilated areas.
Just as rolling stones gather no moss, well-ventilated areas seldom attract mildew.
Stated another way . . . they’re selling a product that should only be used where it’s not needed and should never be used where it is needed.
Aah . . . that’s better!
Related articles: Frugal Mold & Mildew Remover (white vinegar + water)
*SNAP* . . . Ginger Scones! June 27, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Home & Garden, Humor.
Tags: Food, Food & Drink, Ginger, Ginger Snaps, Humor, Scone
I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen.
Once, while baking Ginger Snaps for a party, I substituted a few ingredients.
When the Snaps came out of the oven, they didn’t “snap.”
I shared them anyway . . . calling them Ginger Scones.
How’s that for Yankee Ingenuity?
Since I could not re-create the experiment if I tried, I’ll share my recipe for Ginger Snaps and see if you can transform them into yummy “Ginger Scones.”
If you succeed, please send me your recipe.
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
Cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients. Beat until smooth.
Roll into small balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Aah . . . that’s yummy!
Have you experienced any notable experiments in the kitchen? Did they result in Happy Accidents or Dismal Disasters?
Did you have to call for back up?
How To Go To Sleep (For Moms) June 18, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Humor, Joke, Life Balance.
Tags: Chores, Humor, Joke, Life Balance, Sleep
For others, especially moms with small children, going to sleep is more involved:
1. When you are too exhausted to dot another “i” or cross another “t,” head toward the bedroom for some much needed shut-eye.
2. Wait! What’s that smell? Swing by the litter box and stop to scoop the poop that Johnny was supposed to clean up before he played video games for three hours this evening.
3. Continue heading down the hall.
4. Glance out the front door. Yup, Susie’s bicycle is still lying in the driveway, directly behind your husband’s car, even though she promised she would put it away before spending two hours IM-ing her BFF, Jill.
5. Move the bike out of the target zone of the morning commute.
6. Return to the front door. Wait! What’s that noise?
8. Wade through the mini swimming pool in the middle of the lawn to turn off the spigot.
9. Head back inside. Take off soggy shoes and leave them in the laundry room to wash tomorrow.
10. Turn out the laundry room lights.
11. Notice that the lights you turned off in the kitchen thirty minutes ago are now back on.
12. Head to the kitchen to investigate.
13. Discover that the kitchen you tidied up after dinner now has a blobs of ice cream melting on the counter, drips of chocolate smeared across the floor, and dirty bowls stacked in the sink.
14. Tidy up the kitchen.
15. Turn out the light.
16. Head to the bedroom.
17. Wash your face.
18. Brush your teeth.
19. Floss your teeth.
20. Change into your pajamas.
21. Rub hand-cream on your hands.
22. Put moisturizer on your face.
23. Climb into bed.
24. Lie down and get comfortable. Aah . . . that’s better!
25. Wait. What’s that noise?
27. Get up and let the dog in. Give the dog a biscuit. Fill up the dog’s water bowl.
28. Return to bed.
29. Lie down and get comfortable.
30. Wait! What’s that racket?! Realize your husband’s snoring is drowning out the thoughts that usually keep you awake at night.
31. Turn on the light.
32. Find the ear plugs.
33. Turn off the light.
34. Lie down.
35. Wait! Did anyone make the lunches for tomorrow?
36. Stumble out of bed and wander out to the kitchen.
37. Get out the bread, peanut butter, and jelly.
38. Seriously?! Someone put both jars back empty without adding them to the shopping list?! Yup, they did.
39. Get dressed.
40. Drive to the Quickie Mart to buy peanut butter and jelly.
41. Return home.
42. Make sandwiches.
43. Clean up the kitchen. For the third time.
44. Return to the bedroom.
45. Put on your pajamas. Again.
46. Lie down and get comfortable.
47. Listen to your husband’s I-don’t-have-a-care-in-the-world-snores as you wait for sleep to descend.
48. Glance at the clock.
49 Do some quick calculations.
50. Yup . . . you have to get up and do it all again in five short hours.
Aah . . . that’s better!
So, which camp do you fall into? Do you fall into bed and fall fast asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow?
Or do you lie awake and wonder why sleep is as elusive as an eel?
Related post: Papa Says Get Economical (Weekly Writing Challenge)
Reflections on . . . Watermelon Pickles June 6, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Home & Garden, Humor.
Tags: Cooking, Food, Humor, Pickling, Watermelon, Watermelon Pickle
I love the anthology, Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle.
And I adore watermelon pickles.
I never understood why mom pickled zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, and peppers, but not watermelon rind.
Each summer, she canned dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, tomato sauce, beets, strawberry jam, raspberry jam, peach jam, peach chutney, rhubarb ginger jam, marmalade, lemon curd . . .
But, no matter how many times I pestered her, no watermelon pickles.
I’ve often wondered why watermelon pickles are both hard to find (relegated to small shelves in backwoods country stores) and expensive (triple the price of most pickled products).
After all, watermelon pickles are made from the inexpensive by-product of picnics and seed spitting contests. If you don’t turn the rind into pickles, it ends up in the compost pile or the trash.
Every time I toss out the rinds, I think, “I should make watermelon pickles.”
This year, I added “make watermelon pickles” to my bucket list . . . at spot #1137.
What? Stop judging me!
Item #1137 is no longer on the list because I made watermelon pickles! Yay!
Now I know (a) why mom never made them no matter how much I pestered her, (b) why they are hard to find, and (c) why they are expensive.
After 25 hours of prep work, I ended up with one quart of pickles. One!
OK . . . three pints. Tops.
Granted, most of that time was brine time (waiting for the salt to do its thing), not hands on slicing and dicing. Even so, it’s easier to make umpteen quarts of bread and butter pickles, and faster to pickle a peck of peppers, than to make a single quart of watermelon pickles.
Step 1 ~ Separate the pink flesh from the rind. (I didn’t count this time because I do it every time I buy a watermelon.)
Step 2 ~ Cut the rind into manageable pieces.
Step 3 ~ Get out your big pot. Put the rind into it. Oops! You’ll need a bigger pot than that!
Step 4 ~ Reach into the dark recesses of your least accessible cabinet to locate THE BIG POT.
Step 5 ~ Wash the BIG pot because it hasn’t been used in four years.
Step 6 ~ Put the rind into the BIG pot. Cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil for five minutes.
Step 7 ~ While waiting for the BIG pot to boil, read Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
Step 8 ~ Drain and cool the rind. Easy enough, right? Just carry the BIG pot of boiling water over to the sink and dump it into a colander. Ha! Try doing that with the-cat-who-must-not-be-named sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor between the stove and the sink.
Step 9 ~ Share a laugh with your BFF: Why did the cat sit in the middle of the kitchen? Answer: To get in the way.
Step 10 ~ Dump the rind into the colander until the colander spills over into the sink. Put the BIG pot down on the BIG pot holder. Find a second colander for the rest of the rind.
Step 11 ~ Rinse the rind to cool it down. Rinse it again. Rinse it again. Swap out colanders and rinse it again.
Step 12 ~ A watched rind never cools. Organize your sock drawer by color, height, and remaining elasticity. Stop kidding yourself that unmatched pairs are going to return some day. They are gone. Get over it!
Step 13 ~ Cut the edible inner rind away from the inedible outer rind, until you have 2 quarts of bite-sized pickling pieces.
Step 14 ~ Keep cutting. You’ve got 3 cups and you need a solid 8 cups. Keep going. You’re getting there. Watch your fingers! Great! 5 cups. Do I hear 6? Do I hear 6? Going once . . . going twice . . . done! At 6 cups.
Step 15 ~ Toss the outer rind into the trash. Wonder why it stinks. Take out the trash.
Step 16 ~ Wash the colanders, knives, plates, tongs, counter, and the BIG pot.
Step 17 ~ Put the rind into a non-reactive bowl. Adjust the recipe since you only have 6 cups of usable rind, not 8 cups as called for in the recipe.
Step 18 ~ Shake the salt container. Almost empty. Start pouring. Smack the side of the container to dislodge stray grains. Great . . . 1/4 cup salt. You’re halfway there.
Step 19 ~ Cut the top off the container to get the last few grains of salt. Uncap the salt shaker. Pour more. Huzzah! 1/2 cup!
Step 20 ~ Stir salt into 6 cups of water. Pour brine over the waiting rind.
Step 21 ~ Wait 6 hours. “We will rinse no brine before it’s time!”
Step 22 ~ Sniff the air. Yuck! Boiled watermelon smells like rotting fish. Put a lid on “eau de brining rind.”
Step 23 ~ Google “watermelon pickle” to discover who thought that pickling watermelon rind would be a good idea. “Anonymous.” Of course. Someone with more time than sense.
Step 24 ~ Check the timer. Three hours of brine time to go. What to do? What to do? Hmm . . . what rhymes with brine time? Of course . . . Wine Time!
Step 25 ~ At last! Drain and rinse the brined rind. Repeat. Keep rinsing until all trace of salt is gone. Wonder if you could have skipped the last 7 steps.
Step 26 ~ Put rind into a 2-quart saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Simmer until fork tender. Drain. Rinse.
Step 27 ~ Put 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar, 3/4 cup water, and 1 1/2 cups sugar into a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to boil.
Step 28 ~ Get out cloves, cinnamon, and allspice to add to syrup. Realize the recipe calls for whole cloves, stick cinnamon, and whole allspice, tied in cheesecloth. Toss in ground cloves and cinnamon. Look for allspice. Shrug when you can’t find it.
Step 29 ~ Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add the rind. (Finally!) Simmer until rind is translucent, adding more water if necessary. Wait! Necessary for what?
Step 30 ~ Remove the spice bundle. Ha! Being able to skip this step saved me a bundle of time!
Step 31 ~ Pack in hot sterilized jars and cover with hot molten syrup, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims. Seal the jars.
Step 32 ~ Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Step 33 ~ Let the jars cool. Check seals. If not sealed, reprocess. Let the jars cool. Check the seals . . .
Give up. Put unsealed jars in the fridge.
Step 34 ~ Try to open a jar to taste the fruits of your labor. Stuck. Tap it on the counter to release the seal. Tap it again. Again. Shazam! We’re in!
Step 35 ~ Taste the pickles.
Spit it out! Spit it out!
Step 36 ~ Throw recipe away. Cross #1137 off Bucket List.
Step 37 ~ Write mom, apologizing for being a pest.
Aah . . . that’s better!
So, can you can better than I can can?
I bet you can can better.
Have you ever pickled watermelon rind? Did you do it more than once? What’s your secret? Infinite time? Or infinite patience?
If You Want A Garden . . . Plant Seeds February 24, 2013Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Home & Garden, Nature, People.
Tags: Garden, Magic, Mystery, Plant, Seed, Synchronicity
Last fall, I received a packet of magic beans.
Stunning violet purple pods that turn emerald green after cooking.
I put the unopened packet on my desk and …
Until I planted them.
And watered them.
And applied fertilizer.
After I took the necessary action, the beans sprouted.
Once planted in fertile soil, they started to transform from hard pellets to lush green Royal Burgundy Bush Beans.
We are just like those magic beans.
If we want brilliant blooms tomorrow . . . we must sow the seeds today.
Aah . . . that’s better!