Wednesday, July 27, 2011

unpaid vacation of unknown duration: New England - Part 2

I am feeling truly spoiled this summer. Yes, I am unemployed. But I am so lucky to have friends and family who let me tag along with them on their vacations (ahem, Kim), or have me as their house guest which makes vacationing easy when you are broke and have a lot of free time.  

So I, my friends, am making the most of this gorgeous glorious summer. And I am trying not to gloat, or to feel guilty about it. 

That said, I am so excited that Evan and I are sneaking away back to New England for a few days next week. SO - I thought it was high time that I finish posting about my last trip to New England last month, before a whole new set of experiences need to be shared. 

Ten highlights that were caught on camera ....

1. This little munchkin. (Bear with me - I am a very proud auntie, and she is a very cute kid.)

 Specifically, these toes:

... and bathtime (you know my love of bathtime).

 (Haven't had enough? See more here.)

2. This farm, spotted while driving along one of Maine's several scenic country roads.

3. This early evening sky, over Wood's Pond in Bridgeton, Maine.

4. This vintage Harley, which I got to go on a ride on with my Dad.

5. This little backyard oasis at my parents' house, and closing out the night with a fire.

My mum. xoxo 

6. Being at this Irish pub in Jackson, NH with my Mom and Dad on a Sunday night.

7. This story, even though I can't remember what it was about, told by one of my favorite people (Mother of this cute kid).

8. This hambone, son of another one of my favorite people, my oldest friend Rae.

9. And being there to celebrate her birthday.

10. This saloon, built in the middle of a farm field by Rae's Mom and Stepdad.

Spoiled and lucky, indeed.

getting rid of mint, welcoming rabbits

Today I spent hours ripping up this patch of mint, planted by the house's previous owners around the dogwood before they realized what an invasive species mint is. 

Basically, the lesson learned is to NEVER PLANT MINT IN THE GROUND. If you want some mint in your herb garden, put it in a container!

Some of the roots were 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and deeeeeeep. I know I didn't get all of the roots, because I was worried about going too deep and hurting the dogwood roots intermingled with the mint roots. 

I've definitely enjoyed my share of the mint - for the past month I've added a sprig to just about every glass of water I've consumed, and I have been reunited with mojitos after years of boycotting rum (thanks to a little help from St. Germain).

But as much as I like it in my cool summer beverages, it had to go. I am not sure if I want to keep the bed around the tree (replacing the cement blocks, which I dislike as much as the mint), or plant grass seed around it. 

So today, I focused on getting whatever I could out of the bed, which required moving a lot of the blocks and making friends with all the creepy crawly many-legged creatures that live among them.

Here is all that's left of it now.

Until, say, next week, when dozens of new mint spouts are sure to pop up from underground. From what I have read, it could take a couple of years to get rid of it. If any tiny root fragment is left behind (let alone some of the gargantuan ones I couldn't wrestle free from undergound), it will quickly propagate.

The next step is to cover the soil with black plastic, and then top it with mulch, to starve the remaining mint of any light needed to grow. I just have to check on whether this is safe for the dogwood.

I also did some weeding in the driveway. Yes, that's right, the driveway. As if its not enough to try to keep up with the prolific weeds in the flower beds, I have to deal with weeds sprouting up out of every crack and blemish in our much blemished concrete driveway. 

Normally rabbits in the yard mean some flower or bush has become rabbit salad, which is mildly annoying at best, and potentially fatal to certain trees and bushes at worst. But today, I welcomed the help of this little guy, chomping away at a particularly egregious patch of weeds in the middle of the driveway. 

Getting rid of the mint and driveway weeds left me very tired and cranky - far from my most zen gardening experience - so I decided to unwind by playing around with some flowers. 

Here's something I threw together with a couple of hydrangea stems and hosta blooms (yes, I still have several). 

And for the millionth time, I found myself longing for a flower arranging class in Buffalo/WNY along the lines of this or this. If you know of any, please leave a comment!

{A final reminder ... NEVER PLANT MINT IN THE GROUND}

summer beauties

Some sweet. Some tart. All gorgeous.

Nature, you've rendered me (almost) speechless. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

what's for dinner

Lately, I have been cooking like mad out of the Food & Wine 2011 Annual Cookbook. 

I've sung the praises of Food & Wine here before. I've been a subscriber for several years, and this year decided to cough up the $6 for the cookbook that compiles all the recipes from 2011 in one place. It has been really helpful to me in my meal planning over the past couple of weeks, as I try to back off of carbs of the bread, rice, and pasta variety for a bit.

Here's what's on the menu for dinner tonight:

(images from

A couple of other recipes I've made since receiving the cookbook (my photos):

All have been delicious!