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Adventures in Gardening

We're back with another edition of "Hey, we used to be bloggers." I am not so sure who reads blogs much anymore (hi Moms!) but hell, if e-newsletters are in again and the '90s "flatform" shoe is making a comeback, maybe we have a shot.

As I nurse a gin and tonic made of nothing but the finest (here's to you, cheap Chek tonic cans from the Mount Pleasant, SC Bi-Lo - sometimes you just buy things to get the job done, especially when you're en route to Vacation Weekend after a slight detour to fix a flat tire on I-26...), I'm mulling over what's happening so far in our garden plots. 
We went Tomato Crazy this year, planting 6+ mixed varieties in our raised beds that kinda-sorta get sufficient sunlight in our backyard, and 8 seedlings in one of our two Winterfield Community Garden plots. Hopefully we'll soon pick beautiful Red Delicious, San Marzano, Black Krim, Blue Gold Cherry, Brandywine, and a few "mystery" tomatoes, and I can …
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Take Comfort

Little did I know when I made dinner on Election Day that I'd be serving up comfort in a time when right now we're all scratching our heads and wondering what's next.

I just thought I was being savvy making a batch of stew in a Crock-Pot, saving some time for a night when I worked a late shift. Of all my kitchen appliances, this Crock-Pot gets the least amount of skin in the game. I use it maybe 3 or 4 times per year. But when I saw this Slow Cooker Beef & Barley Stew in Cooking Light, I figured since I had most of the ingredients on hand, I should give it a shot. 
Maybe my slow cooker is reaaaaaaally slow, but after six of the eight hour cooking time on the low setting, the carrots were still crisp. So I bumped the cooker up to "high" and two hours later, the carrots were mostly tender. 
The night before I made roasted chicken, and I popped in three beets while the oven was on. With those beets I made a salad with greens and crumbles of pungent and rich bleu…

Tea Time

Fall finally decided to show up here in Charlotte, NC this week.

Hoodies and sweaters were pulled out of closets, socks and slippers donned for the first time in months, and denim could be worn comfortably.

Oh denim. I've never understood people who wear jeans in Southern humidity. They're like sweaty straightjackets for your legs and torso. Skin was meant to breathe, y'all.

So with a chill in the air, one must make certain adjustments in all areas of life, from the closet to the kitchen. Gin & tonics are replaced with red wine. We buy apples and dried fruit for cereal instead of berries. And I trade daily cold drinks of seltzer for my favorite comfort of the cooler seasons - tea.

Scott & I share an affinity for tea, and we have our rituals. "Tea and Books and Bed" is a totally innocent affair that involves piling up with reading material and decaffeinated brews. You do have to watch Scott with tea - one drowsy moment can result in a messy spill, turning …

Hot Dogs and Cold Drinks in the Southern Summer

As I type, there's a very warm and furry canine snuggled to my left (she claims she can proofread) and an icy Campari and soda to my right.

Oh, the contrast.

Every summer we say "No more" to the Southern humidity, but here we are again, sweatin' and cussin' as we take turns watering the community garden plots in the mornings, and ducking in and out of the evening heat, the back screen door slamming, to take things on and off the grill.

Scott is especially drawn to the west coast this time of year, or at the very least the high country areas of Western North Carolina, where the temps are 10+ degrees cooler than down here in the flatlands.  I wouldn't mind a little mountain getaway for this time of year. Normally Scott is the more sensitive one, but this weekend I nearly had a meltdown in all kinds of ways at the Charlotte Regional Farmers
Market. Too many people + 90 degrees by 10 am = one escalation of a situation for this crazed lady. Let's just say I put…

Avoiding A Scarborough Fair Reference: We're Growing Herbs

After several weeks of unimpressive basil growth from three plants - two Italian large leaf and one Sweet Thai -- in our herb garden at the head of our driveway, I gave up and booked it to the garden center this week.

I purchased two plants - a large Genovese and a small-ish Pesto basil - and sought growing tips from the garden center owner. He advised that I plant these in containers instead of in the ground, and fertilize them.

I'm already excited about the potential for these two and I plan on transplanting the Thai basil to a container to see if I can salvage it and increase the leaf-age. It would be great for the Thai Summer Shrimp Rolls I want to make but have procrastinated since forever - so much that I should probably double check the rice paper wrappers in our pantry for the expiry date.

Below is a photo of our herb garden. It also has two varieties of Oregano that exploded with growth last month, some Cilantro that bolted weeks ago but I am too sad about to remove (I wa…

Living On The Edge

This is an interesting time to garden.

It's pretty hot outside - the kind of warm that makes you reconsider your ban on grandma linen capri pants that you bought 2 pairs of a few years ago in a moment of humidity-induced weakness. (Or not. Maybe that's just me. I have three summer wardrobes: one that's meant for external audiences, a dowdy but comfy look that is Borderline Bag Lady, and a few "breath-able" things that could make a pastor blush.)
In Charlotte it rains nearly every other day, either as torrential downpours or blink-and-you-miss-'em showers. I love the rain -- thanks to Mother Nature I get more time to sleep in the a.m. instead of lugging the hose to our backyard raised beds and our two plots in the community garden. 
And the vegetable plants in the garden are right on the verge of exploding... but not quite. 
You see the flowers popping up on the tomato, cukes and squash plants. Your green bean plants double their height overnight. Everything …

Minty Fresh

Knowing that mint will spread like fire when planted in the ground, I put two spearmint and peppermint plants in our front yard beds last fall. Gleefully, I didn't care at the time. I detest weeds in those beds and I love mint - especially a little brewed with my iced tea (a little sugar included, y'all know I am southern. Wouldn't be natural otherwise).

But now the mint is coming in and mingling with my black eyed susans, and I worry that the spreading mint might choke the pretty flowers before they all bloom. 
All my fault if it happens, I was warned and I went mint-mad! If anyone in Charlotte needs mint, Holla! 
What are you getting into this weekend?