Monday, June 30, 2008

The danger of running out of TP

That quick run to Costco can get expensive! Though I got a lot of staples, too. The frivolous stuff is for the cow-orkers. We're all about snackin'.

Getting growed

You may remember the wee bean sprout of two weeks ago. While unlikely to reach the proportions of Jack's ladder to the clouds, it and its siblings are no less magical to me.

Especially since they came from a bag of beans meant for eating, not planting.
The daisies in front are blooming. They have powdery mildew, alas (which surprisingly thrives in low humidity). I will spray them with some baking soda in water.
I need to deadhead the roses, too. I only had one rose at my old place, planted in the last year; I like them but they intimidate me. These seem to be thriving, though.
The echinacea sure is pretty, even before it blooms.
The sea-holly-like plant on June 8 looked pretty when it was all green, but looks even nicer when the blooms turn blue. This is some kind of eryngium, as Karen pointed out. Sea holly is in the same family, and that may even be what this is, despite its landlocked location.
It's quite thistly and bristly, so best planted where you won't need to reach around it or brush past it. It's quite vigorous, too, very bushy and about 4 feet tall. I like that it's so unusual!

What's blooming in your garden?

Silly kitchen gadget No. 10

"Cook up to seven eggs exactly how you like them. Vari-Cook(tm) technology allows eggs within the same batch to be cooked differently – soft, medium or hard-boiled."

Who is this made for? The Waltons? The Dionnes? The Bradfords? The Camdens? There's a fertility joke in here somewhere ...

(Edit: But wait! There's more! From the company website: "The unit also features a unique poaching tray with 3 joined elliptical shaped cups; a tribute to Julia Child, who preferred a similarly shaped holder when poaching eggs."

Which begs the question: WWJD?)

Poodle meetup

We had a poodle meetup today at the Rocky Mountain Agility Center in Arvada. Really nice facility! There were, I dunno, maybe 25 poodles there? Anyway, they had a good time!
Sophie says, "I was just guarding the food! Really!"
Handing out treats.
Did someone say "treats"??? (That's Sophie on the left.)
Sophie liked the puppy.
She slept well afterward. No need for walk tonight.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Steps backward, steps forward

You go out of town and take time to recover, and next thing you know, you're overrun.
I've been weeding different spots around the house every day since my return, but I should have started with the vegetable garden instead of leaving it until today. Eek! Really should've mulched.

Anyone have a favorite mulch for vegetables?

Luckily, some of these weeds are actually edible. Thanks to a couple of recent posts by doggybloggy at Chez What? I feel more confident cooking up some of that ubiquitous purslane, or verdolagas (click for his recipe, with video!):
And lamb's quarters.
The arugula is soldiering on despite an infestation of flea beetles. Any good ideas for dealing with them organically?
They don't prevent me from harvesting and eating the stuff, in any case. I had a big salad of it a couple of days ago.

On the positive side, I was excited to see that some of the tomato plants are setting fruit!
Clockwise from the
upper left, that's
Early Girl,
Amish Paste
and Stupice
(thanks, Susan!).
The peppers are also flowering.
That's a thai bird chile on the left, and paprika on the right.

I got a lot of the weeds out in a marathon session, which left me pretty exhausted, since it followed marathon sessions of weeding the flagstone patio and then all the way around the sidewalk.

(Where I was horrified to find some caltrop burr plants at the corner that had to go immediately. That's a picture of the burrs at right. They will puncture a bicycle tire or make your dog go lame. The "caltrop" has an interesting history. I wrote about it here.)

So I'm tired! And I didn't do any of the flagstone-laying I had planned for today. Oh well. Something got accomplished.

Dialin' and drinkin'

A three-hour nap is a very good thing. I didn't accomplish much else today, beyond the obligatory daily weeding (it never ends). And a nice walk at sunset with Sophie, when it had cooled off a bit.

I did get one thing fixed, or rather, Frank did. That's Frank on the left, tracking down the source of my phone troubles. Not too hard: The neighbors cross the alley had some work done on their house, and someone left all the wires exposed, covered only by an orange plastic bag. It's been that way for months, but I didn't realize that was my phone line running through there, too.

Just in the last couple of weeks my landline started going out, but intermittently. Of course when the repair guy would check it, it would be working fine. (And no one noticed the orange bag.) Today it was out for good, and Frank fixed it. I hope for good.

That calls for a drink! A mojito, natch.
This was at Brandon's Pub, where I met some cow-orkers late this evening. I hadn't been there before. It's a little loud, but the seating is comfy (we were gathered around a low table, with leather armchairs, ottomans and a banquette). They have really BIG TVS, too, if you like that.

There was some weird drama with the staff, though. It took about a half-hour to get my drink, first because the waitress didn't see me come in, then because she had some screaming argument with her boyfriend and stormed out and the bartender took off, too. Huh?
Not that the place was very busy, but the poor waitress who had just finished her shift got dragged back in, and a customer stepped behind the bar to mix the drinks.

Frankly, this mojito was terrible. I don't know what went into it. But because no one knew how to work the register, it was free. Woohoo! We left the waitress a big tip.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A day at the beach

Northern California beaches are notoriously cold, but not last Friday, when temperatures even close to the coast topped 100.

Seemed like a good day for the beach! The sand was so hot I had to run across it to get to the water. Ow! Ow! Ow! But the water was bracing.
Lots of people there for a weekday, but most of them were congregated right around the parking area and lifeguard stands. Walk a little bit and it's much more pleasant.

Some days there's a lot of stuff washed up by the waves: driftwood, seaweed, little crabs, sand dollars. This day, there wasn't much.

Some clumps of seaweed don't look all that interesting. (Though the bull kelp featured in the last What Is It? certainly was.)

If you look at it up close, though, it has a fascinating structure.
The Sergeant said, "Watch out for the jellyfish!" And I was all, what jellyfish? He pointed out the next one he saw.
Oh! I thought those were bubbles!

As soon as I started taking picture of it, this little girl came running over with her dad and he picked it up and was being all lecture-y about it with her. Gee, thanks for asking me if I was done taking pictures. But I guess it gives you an idea of the size.
It really was a nice place to spend a hot day, and so much different from yet oddly similar to my beloved Wisconsin beach.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back to Havana

Made it back to Havana restaurant in Alameda this trip to see if they'd ironed out some of the wrinkles we experienced last time. I don't know if they have resolved the server problems in the bar area, as we were seated immediately (it was still early-ish).

I do love the giant photos they have on their walls. The decor and seating are otherwise fairly spartan, with banquettes along the walls and two rows of tables.

They have an extensive mojito list, a big plus for me. I had the mojito de colada: Bacardi "Coco," mint, sugar, pineapple juice, splash of soda.

We started with the garlic boniato fries that we enjoyed so much last time. Boniato is a kind of sweet potato. This batch was super-garlicky and good, and I love that chimichurri sauce. (Kevin at Closet Cooking made some to go with steak; I'll have to try his recipe. I wonder if I can find boniato here.)
The Sergeant got the ropa vieja or "old clothes," which is shredded beef, onions, peppers and tomato with sofrito rice and black beans.
While I enjoyed the garlic-studded pork tenderloin with Mojo sauce, boniato mash and black beans.

(I asked the server if I should get the pork or the marinated steak over rice and beans with grilled pineapple. He thought for a minute and said, "You're having the pork. They're both good, so I'm just making an executive decision." Fine with me!)
The food was quite tasty, and very filling. I do wish, though, that they could change up their menu a little for summer. All the entrees are so heavy and hearty for a day that topped 100 degrees. I could have gotten a salad, I guess, or some ceviche, so it's not really their fault I couldn't clean my plate. I'll know better next time, or just go in the winter.

Havana restaurant
1518 Park Street
Alameda CA 94501

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When lightning strikes ...

... Grab your camera!
I took 172 photos over a 21-minute period (it felt like five minutes!), using the "night scenery" custom setting on the camera (which just allows for a longer exposure than setting it manually). This was the best shot. I did not crop or modify it in any way. Click on it to see it full screen.

I somehow accidentally set the camera to take three shots each time I pressed the shutter, which turned out to be fortuitous. (Now I just have to figure out how to turn that off!) The camera was on a tripod, and I used the 2-second timer to make sure there was no jiggle.

I got six other good shots. You can see them by clicking here.

I'm psyched! Lightning doesn't hold still the way food does.

Garden lunch

I'm loving the chard from my garden. Today I sautéed a bunch with garlic and shallots and then simmered it with some chicken broth and put it over bowtie pasta.
I cook the stems, too; just chop them up and throw them in the pan a few minutes before the leaves so they get a little more cooktime.

Maybe I should title this post "Give Peas a Chance." When you leave your garden alone for a few days, it lets the plants produce a lot of pods for an actual harvest. Whereas if you are in there every day, you eat the pods straight off the vine, a handful a day.

I'm submitting this post to Andrea's Grow Your Own roundup for this month. If you have a garden and enjoy its produce, consider submitting a photo of your own next month!

The good life

Photos of snoozing poodles over at My Black Poodles inspired me to fire up Photobooth for a quick shot of my own snoozer. She's happy I'm home, can you tell?

What is it? No. 13

Click on the photo to see if you guessed right!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back at home and back at work

Lifting barges, toting bales. Trip photos later.

Yawn. Too early for me

They were playing a Muzak version of a Jonatha Brooke song, which is a little freaky. She's kind of obscure.