Saturday, June 28, 2008

From Sagging to Bragging

Oh, no - NOT what you're thinking! (Though maybe not a bad idea...)

This is about our kitchen floor...our home has been added on to as many as 6 times over the years. The oldest sections are likely about 100 years old. And the floors in those areas have sagged for as long as I've lived here. But in the last 6 months or so we had noticed a very obvious increase in the sag...the time had come to quit insisting it was charming and admit we had a serious problem. Enter son #3 and his friend/co-worker who do commercial remodeling for a living. After much discussion with them we felt we had assembled a good team to tackle the job and we set the date for June 21, knowing it would probably take a couple of weekends.

We began with pulling up the very expensive vinyl "floating" floor covering. Our intent had been to be careful not to damage it, then reuse it later....more on that to come. Then we removed the flooring underlayment, a layer of old vinyl tiles, and the plywood that made up the horizontal surface....Wow - what a nightmare we uncovered! We had anticipated that all the joists and supports would have to be torn out and replaced - no surprises there. But the icky, gooey, sopping wet earth that had been covered up to this point was a sickening surprise. We expected damp - not this mucky, muddy mess! Some 40 bags of concrete were part of the answer, along with the shop-vac for sucking up the water, and electric fans for drying. And a plan for adding ventilation to prevent this kind of mess in the future.

That first weekend was a doozy. The concrete supports were made and most of the joists and supports were built, but that took hours and hours. Cleaning up all the concrete dust and mud from the walls, cabinets, sink and walkway to our front door, ate up most of Monday.

During the week we poured some additional concrete, and kept
fans running to get the earth below as dry as possible. Then today the heavens opened up and poured buckets! After a few hours, the water started seeping through again - arghh! So a new project for diverting water away from the house has been added to our to-do list for the summer. However the guys were able to go ahead and finish adding supports and laying the tongue-in-groove panels on top. That is one sturdy floor! You can walk, run, bounce, jump - whatever you do, it doesn't jiggle one bit!

As for the vinyl floor - we didn't tear it, but the underlayment had stuck to the edges, where it had been glued. After some diligent work to remove it, we realized it was a lost cause and are now looking into new floor coverings. I'm leaning toward a wood laminate in a rich tone...maybe a dark oak?
Or how about this mahogany? Maybe walnut?...I'll let you will be NEXT weekend before we start that part of the adventure.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Peppers & Posies

Well, actually this post is about jalapenos and nasturtiums, but Peppers & Posies sounds much catchier.

I was so busy watching over the tomatoes, soybeans, corn, squash, cucumbers and all, that I had completely missed the fact that the Tam jalapeno has tiny peppers now! I so hope the tomatoes and tomatillos and cilantro all do well - then there will be fresh, homegrown salsa to enjoy.

The nasturtiums are so beautiful....why on earth had I never grown them before? The orangy-yellow colors are certainly eye-catching.

Ahh, but this red one is my favorite. It really grabs attention, tucked in amongst the cauliflower and broccoli.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fine details

I love herbs! This is the first year I have successfully grown cilantro and I'm thrilled! Not only do I love going out to the garden and grabbing a handful to add zest to our meals, I love the tiny, airy white blooms that remind me of baby's breath. And can you see the seed forming in the lower right of this photo? Coriander in the making - not to mention seed for new sowings. (For an enlarged view, click on the photos)

The dill won a place in my garden last year with the wonderful scent, feathery foliage, and bright yellow/green seed heads.
For some reason it doesn't seem to have as strong a scent as last year. Maybe heat has something to do with it - so far this year we've had cooler temps and lots, lots, lots of wet! And this is earlier than last year for my dill to mature - seems it was July or August before I heads appeared.

Baby veggies

These baby runner beans are the first I've seen this season - the bigger one is maybe an inch long so far. I want to try using them in stir fry or maybe a grilled veggie mix.

This tiny cucumber
is about 1/2 inch in length, but with the quick growth these usually have, and the fact they are best while still small, I think we may have some for our salads within a week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Garden report

The big planter at the entry to the front porch is filling out nicely, compared to a few weeks ago (see photo).

I finally have my grapevine wreath planted for the season - with blue-eyes and snapdragons.

I've never been a big fan
of impatiens - but these double-impatiens in a deep rosy color with white variegation remind me of them! They were a gift from one of my sons and his little boy.

In the kitchen garden things are really taking off now - sever
al of the tomato plants now have small green tomatoes. These are "Bloody Butcher", an heirloom that I'm growing for the first time. They are supposed to ripen early - I'm hoping by July 4th!

Snow's Fancy Pickling cucumbers have blooms! I ended up with only 2 plants, so I'm a little doubtful there will be enough to can pickles. But I'm sure they will be great fresh and as refrigerator pickles.

These are the first nasturtium blooms my garden has ever seen. I've never grown them before and wasn't sure exactly what I was getting. They sounded awesome - insect repellent, yet edible blooms - in a striking orange color with wonderful variegated foliage. I have 3 others planted and hope they will all be blooming before long, providing whatever magic they have to ward off the evil insects!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Paula Deen's Fried Green Tomatoes

Yes, I have to say my favorite part of our meal at Paula Deen's restaurant, The Lady & Sons, in Savannah, GA, was the Fried Green Tomatoes. Yum! Not that the hoe cakes, pot roast, fried chicken, butter beans, gooey butter cake, peach cobbler and all weren't delicious - but I do believe I'd be tempted to break the law for those fried tomatoes! They were served with a roasted pepper sauce and onion relish that were the perfect companions.

Crazy, but true - our whole
trip to Savannah was based on that restaurant! Our 18-year-old daughter, Fallan, loves to cook - has her own fire-engine red KitchenAid mixer, stainless steel knives, 3 or 4 different rolling pins, springform pans, and much, much more, and insists on using real butter and only certain Mexican vanillas. She loves to watch the cooking shows, but most of all, loves to watch Paula Deen. She owns several of her books, subscribes to her magazine, and thinks Paula is one great cook and cool lady. Fallan started talking about going to Savannah to eat at Paula's restaurant over a year ago. So, when we asked her if she would like to take a family vacation to Savannah for her graduation gift from us, she was thrilled. Of course, she hoped that by some freak chance, she might actually meet Ms. Deen, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

I had hoped this could be even more special. Last January I emailed to see if I could get Fallan invited to the taping of Paula's show, "Paula's Party", and we would plan our trip accordingly. And, to
our delight and surprise, we received an invitation! Unfortunately it was for April in New York instead of this summer in Savannah. Our dollars were too tight to do both, so we asked Fallan to choose and she insisted on the Savannah trip.

Hopefully someday Fallan will meet Paula - and who knows - maybe it will be Paula visiting Fallan's restaurant or show!

Garden Progress

Being gone for 6 days at this stage of the growing season, it becomes evident how quickly everything is moving along. The Painted Lady Runner beans I sowed next to the cellar were up and starting to send out runners when we left. Now they have vined up the trellis as much as 5 ft. and have these beautiful red and white blooms.

The broccoli and cauliflower leaves have gotten huge and there will be broccoli for supper in just a couple more days.

I've never grown Tomatillos before.
The blooms are small and yellow like a tomato, but shaped differently and more deeply yellow. And the leaves are riddled with holes that the tomatoes don't have. I'm thinking flea beetles may be the culprits. I can hardly wait to get fruits from these to use in making salsa. If I get good production I may need to search the internet for other ways to use them too.

Nearly daily rain plus high heat and humidity
must be the reason the dill, cilantro and komatsuna have bolted. I hadn't even harvested any of the komatsuna yet! I have other plantings of both the dill and cilantro so I'll leave these to flower so I can save their seed. I think I'll harvest what I can of the komatsuna and then sow a new tub in a spot that gets lots of afternoon shade in hopes it won't bolt so quickly.

The summer squash I had transplanted into a new bed just before we left were all gone when I got home! Bunnies?
Couldn't be sure, but since they were all chomped off at the base of the stem, I think it had to be something bigger than an insect. I'm going to try direct seeding these and then put some sort of bunny-safe contraption over them. The two "extra" lemon squash that I quickly plopped into a couple of bare spots in the enclosed raised bed (just wanted to get them into the soil before we left on vacation) haven't been touched!

And 4 or 5 of the tomato plants now have baby toms! This is the Pink Oxheart.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Whirlwind vacation

We packed a lot of driving miles into 6 short days! Savannah did not disappoint - what a gorgeous old southern city she is. We visited the historic district and enjoyed the beautiful squares filled with moss-draped old trees, flowers and monuments. Our daughter's wish to dine at Paula Deen's restaurant, The Lady & Sons, was fulfilled. And though her hope that Paula would magically appear didn't materialize, she did buy a couple of Paula's autographed cookbooks, and a lovely coffee mug that will remind her daily of the visit. We visited nearby Tybee island where we played on the beach for a short time, bought a few souvenirs, and got a parking ticket (not the happiest of memories since we had earlier paid for parking then moved to a new area near some shops that we didn't realize required paid parking!).
Along the way we visited DeSoto Falls near
Mentone, Alabama - beautiful!

We meandered through Augusta, Athens and Gainesville, GA as we headed back toward Missouri. One of our favorite stops was in Franklin, TN - where hubby got to visit the Darrell Waltrip car dealership and I happened on to some yard sales and brought home a few little treasures!

We saw a lot of beautiful scenery in our trek through Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. I daresay we won't try to pack that many miles into a week or less again - too little time to enjoy it all.
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