Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Garden Progress

Saturday I did exactly what I wanted to do.  I went outside around 10:30am after some quality time with my coffee cup and CBS' Early Show: Saturday Edition. I stayed out there until about 7:30pm with the exception of a nooner trip to Lowe's.  It was a super fun day and luckily I had a great companion:
Oh hey Ralph, you are the king of the yard!  My main focus was the top left hand corner of this picture.  As you can see the bushes have grown up all in the fence and in the picture below you can see all sorts of weeds.
I started by pulling all of the weeds that had grown up and then began the task of removing the vines that had grown up, in, through and around the chain link fence.  That is what got me, it was really tough.  I had to cut and pull and cut and pull and then rip out a section and then repeat...needless to say this was pretty tough, but I feel good about having all, most, ok some of the vines gone from the fence.  This is a project that will continue all around the yard, probably all summer long, great.  Once I had the majority of the big bush gone from the fence to the left side I found a large piece of chicken wire half buried behind the old stump.  Well, I decided to remove it so I could finish my landscaping project and remove any danger for Ralph, (this was my down fall) I would hate for him to get tangled up in that one day.  Unfortunately that took up a large chunk of time, lead to some cuts on my arm and removed any possibility of putting in the vegetable garden on Saturday.  However, I am super glad the wire is all gone now and feel good that the area is now "properly landscaped."  Looking at this "after picture" is almost disappointing
because I feel like its not that different, but all the weeds are gone, the chicken wire is gone, the fence is clear and I have to remember that the most important part is what you can't see.  Underneath the pine straw there are now many little seeds all doing their thing, getting ready to pop up and provide the corner with some color.  So, if everything goes according to plan this area will soon be vibrant with a purple butterfly bush, orange daffodils, yellow and pink dahlias and multi colored anemones, HOORAY!  When that happens I will take a picture and show it to you again! 

Sincerely Loving Food and the garden,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stole Recipe Success: Heather's Linguine with Balsamic Tomatoes, Bacon & Manchego

Over the last few months I have really enjoyed having Heather's Dish in my blog reading rotation.  Heather has a black lab just like me and sports guy, the first thing on her "about me" dislikes is laundry and that would be my #1 in life dislike, and she is just a great writer.  I don't  know Heather (and now she probably thinks I am a crazy stalker, sorry I'm not, I just really like your blog) but I sort of feel like I do and I am so glad she shared this linguine recipe with me and the rest of the food blog world! 

I have had this linguine with balsamic tomatoes, bacon and manchego "pinned" on my pinterest board since January, and unfortunately I just got around to making it last night.  Believe me, I will make it again!  I followed Heather's instructions except for one small thing it was incredibly simple and incredibly tasty.  Basically you roast tomatoes in balsamic and puree them, fry some bacon and onions and then mix those things with pasta and cheese in a bowl and you are done!  The one change I made, which I make to almost all recipes: I halved the amount of pasta called for and substituted 2 cups of fresh spinach.  I roughly chopped the spinach and threw it in the bowl with the pasta right as it was coming out of the hot water.  The pasta is hot enough to wilt the spinach just enough and when covered with pasta sauce the spinach blends right in with the rest of the dish, more color, more flavor, more vitamins and minerals.  I have found this to be a great way to "bulk up" pasta dishes and make them more healthy.

Believe it or not this was my first time eating manchego cheese...It was quite expensive, but worth it.  I loved the buttery softness of the cheese and it gave the dish something extra...I'm not quite sure what it was, but I liked it.  I love all cheeses so its not like I was scared of not liking it, I just didn't know what to expect.  Do you like Manchego?  How have you used it?  I still have half of the block left and I'm looking for ideas!

Sincerely Loving Food,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Growing up is hard to do...

Remember when you were a child and all you wanted to do was grow up?  You thought that meant you would be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want.  Now here we are, all grown up, and most of the time still following rules, being told what to do and with whom we should do it.  This isn't all bad; I am a huge fan of structure and plans and following the rules, but from time to time I just want to scream like a five year old that it isn't fair.  I am thinking (hoping and praying) I am not alone with these feelings.  Today I am sitting here at work, dreaming about the bulbs I bough last night on my garden  shopping spree, and not light bulbs, flower bulbs, envisioning early July when my yard is full of purple, yellow, pink and white flowers, wishing that I was out in the garden today planting them and not considering the ramifications of if and when the Dow Jones is going to crash again...frankly I don't think this will happen, but it has been a big discussion in my work life lately...I just want to go and garden, is that too much to ask?

The other side of this tale is a bigger personal drama than wishing I was playing outside instead of sitting here at my desk.  At almost 30 years old, I have again been reminded about the "mean girl."  I would have thought that the days of crying over friends ended when I walked out of my high school for the last time, but unfortunately that isn't the case.  I have been reminded that growing up is hard to do, not only because things change, but because people change.  Life changes people, experiences change people and people change people.  Sometimes these changes are so big that a friendship that has lasted a long, long time comes to an end.  When you don't see that end coming, when you are blindsided by that end, when you didn't want the end to come, but it was forced on you, it is reminiscent of a middle school break up.  The feelings of rejection, as strong as they were at age 13, are back in your heart at age 28 and it is ever the more confusing when you are an adult, as you thought the days with those feelings were behind you.  You wonder "I still enjoy spending time with them, we had so many great memories, how do you not want to be my friend any more."  It's a sad time at any age when you feel "dumped" by a friend and you realize that the friendship really is over.

However, there is a bright side, sort of like in a garden.  When a wilted plant is surrounded by so many beautiful blooming plants the wilted one doesn't stick out as much.  The beauty of all the flowers around heal the eye sore of the faded, crunchy, dead leaves.  I have been reminded in the last few weeks how many truly great, blooming friends I have and how much they care.  I have seen how the heart heals quickly with the love of family and friends.  The ones who I appreciate so much and look forward to many more happy years of great memories with are so important and vibrant in my life.  As for the wilted friend, I am taking the attitude of thanks for the joy you gave me while you were around, best wishes for you, but its time to remove you from my thoughts and move on .

On Saturday I plan on being in the garden all day.  I have a new butterfly bush to plant, some hostas to separate and move, hydrangeas to cut back and water, and a grand plan for a raised vegetable bed (thanks to Pioneer Woman's Plan).  I am hopeful that all of these plants will make it through the summer and bloom in all of their glory, but I realize one or two might be lost along the way and that's alright.  I will just have to remember the fun that I had while planting them and realize that unfortunately some good things come to an end.  The flower wilted along the way does not destroy my love for gardening just like a mean girl does not destroy my love for all of the truly great people in my life.

If you got all the way here, thanks for reading and if all the parallels between a garden and friendship made your stomach hurt, sorry about that.  It just seemed to really fit the way I feel right now.  I realize this post is a little more serious than I usually write, but these were somethings I just had to get out and I couldn't think of a better place to do it then here.  I appreciate you reading and I can't wait to share some pictures of the garden development next week! Oh and maybe I will cook again and share a recipe or two...I bet the hubby would appreciate that...

Sincerely Loving Food and Sincere Friends,