31 May 2015

Succulents: Two Months Later...

A couple of months ago, I planted several succulents and hoped to keep them alive. This is what they looked like at that time...

  After a few weeks, I've had mixed results. The three I planted in these small white pots are looking pretty weak. They're still alive but look at the one on the left! It looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book!

And look at the dead parts on the bottom of this one. Not too attractive!

The jade plant, however, is doing great and has quite a bit of new growth. I think this might be my favorite.

And the three plants I put in other pots are also doing fine, with new growth on each of them. 

 I especially like this one! He will eventually need a larger pot.

So as much as I like the small white pots, I decided to move those wimpy succulents into a larger dish with a couple of new ones. My logic: Disguise their sickly appearance while giving them a bit more space!

I couldn't find quite the dish I envisioned but settled on this one because it has holes in the bottom and a nice little tray. It's designed for succulents so maybe that will give these guys a fighting chance!

I put a couple of shards (love that word!) in the bottom to lightly cover the holes and keep all the dirt from washing out.

Lily helped!

 As it turned out, I could only fit two of the wimpy plants in with the two new ones. I moved the Dr. Seuss plant to a slightly larger pot. Hopefully he will start to fill out.

 Awhile back, I found these decent-looking fake succulents at Target. If all else fails, I might have to buy a few more!

Change is good for everyone, including succulents, right? Cross your fingers!

29 May 2015

Feline Friday: Tiny Box, Big Bottom

Lily's prescription low-cal urinary happiness cat food comes in tiny cans stacked in tiny boxes. Shortly after bringing the box of food home, I found THIS:

How could this possibly be comfortable?

 And yes, Lily...this box does make your bottom look big! For a slimmer appearance, choose the bigger box! :)

27 May 2015

Patio & Porch Flowers: Better Late than Never!

As I mentioned in my last post, being gone a lot over the past month set me behind in a number of areas (OK, in ALL areas!), one of which is my gardening. I didn't want to have my cat sitter fuss with watering patio pots while we were gone, so I waited until we finished our traveling to plant them. Of course, the down side to waiting is that some nurseries were picked over, but I still managed to find quite a few very nice flowers. 

BUT...due to my tardiness getting purchasing plants, I had to violate not one but THREE of my own rules for patio pots this year!

1) I bought geraniums. UGH. I'm not a fan of geraniums, but I know people swear by their hardiness so I thought I'd try them in a couple of pots this year. I had poor luck with the dahlias I planted in these heavy urns last year. I'm hoping for better luck with the geraniums.

 2) I bought petunias. I don't like petunias at all, but I found some lovely double petunia hanging baskets this year which really don't look like petunias. They are huge, heavy, and beautiful right now. I hope I can keep them alive!

 3) I bought pink flowers. Sheesh, there are a LOT of pink flowers in greenhouses this year. I am not a fan of pink (or red!) ANYTHING, but I had to buy a few pink flowers here and there for lack of other suitable colors. I added a lot of purple and white so hopefully the pink will be somewhat disguised!

I also planted five pots of herbs, including basil, cilantro, rosemary, and sorrel. I have no idea what sorrel is, but it's a beautiful plant. There's a recipe on the back of the tag so we'll be giving it a try!

 We got a ton of rain this weekend, which was good timing for my newly planted pots!

I'm sure I've mentioned this is previous posts, but I like to overfill my pots. I am not patient enough to wait for flowers to fill in the empty spaces. Just today I added the dusty miller sprigs to many of the pots to fill in some blank areas.

  Argh...there are PINK vincas in my front porch pots! NO! I could not find white vincas anywhere over the weekend when I was filling the pots. Of course when I stopped by a greenhouse today, there were plenty. :)

  Although I'm whining about the pink flowers, I really do enjoy gardening season. Regardless of the color, I love having flowers around the yard and snipping blooms for bouquets. Now that the pots are planted, I hope to turn my attention to other neglected gardening tasks!

22 May 2015

Feline Friday: Kitten Obsession!

Blogging friends: Once again, I find myself apologizing for my recent lack of posts. But this time, I have a better excuse than usual -- we have made three trips to Indiana in the past four weeks. We've had a great time visiting our daughter! Of course, when you are gone so many days, it's easy to fall behind on lots of things, including blogging.

But I could NEVER miss Feline Friday! Today I'm sharing a sweet picture of Lily watching the TinyKittens kitten cam on my phone. It was actually dark when Spouse took this photo from across the room on his phone, so the quality isn't good -- not to mention my appearance...yikes! But I love how Lily is watching the kittens so intently!

I've also downloaded a game for her to "play" on my phone. So far, she just watches while I play the game! She much prefers the kittens, as do I! :)

Happy Feline Friday!

15 May 2015

Feline Friday: Breakfast with Lily

After the morning feeding frenzy, Lily plops herself on my lap while I read the paper and have a little breakfast. 

I don't think she's really all that interested in current events. She's just after my cereal milk. 

And ear scritches. She'll take all the scritches she can get. 

Love her to pieces.

14 May 2015

Brava to Our Girl!

 Before we had our daughter, I could not imagine what parenthood might be like. And although I knew that my parents loved me, I could not fathom the depth of that love until I became a parent myself. Sure, parenthood is hard (I feel like I'm STILL learning how to be a mom), but it also brings with it some pretty amazing moments. As it turns out, this girl -- this smart, talented, and very strong girl -- has brought me more joy as a parent than I ever thought possible.

 This past weekend, we celebrated with her as she graduated with High Distinction from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, with a Bachelor of Music Education - Percussion, the equivalent of a second major in choral music education, and minors in conducting and Spanish. IU's music curriculum is one of the most rigorous in the nation, yet she insists that this achievement was "no big deal" -- she says she just did what was asked of her. But her father and I know that she has worked extremely hard and prepared herself exceedingly well with support from the incredible music faculty. 

 Look back with me to August of 2010, when we left home with this girl sick with worry in the back seat of the SUV. I minimized it in that blog post, but trust me: She was incredibly apprehensive about being 8 hours from home and very fearful about how she would fare in such a big program. We knew she would be just fine, but she had to prove it to herself. And in very short order, she did.

If pride is a sin, I'm absolutely guilty. I could not be more proud of this girl. So it was a complete joy to participate in this milestone event, one that I could never have imagined 22 years ago.

 As luck would have it, the students from the college of music were accidentally seated in the front row -- out of 11,000 graduates in attendance.

And as luck would also have it, the rain which threatened to derail the event held off until the moment we left the stadium.

The commencement speaker was sports broadcaster and IU graduate Sage Steele, who asked the graduates, "How will you choose to live your life?" and challenged them to "choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong". Good advice for all of us.

The celebration continued with a ceremony at Jacobs, where each student was recognized and shook the hand of the dean.

Bailey was one of 350+ graduates of the music school, which included (I'm guessing) fewer than 20 from the percussion department. Here she is with her some of her fellow percussion graduates. (I knew she was short, but...!)

Now I don't have any hard and fast numbers, but I can tell you that for whatever reason, there are (in general) very few female percussionists. There are even fewer percussionists who pursue a music education degree. (The vast majority seek to play rather than teach.) So it follows that there are very, very few female band directors who specialize in percussion. Although she may not agree, I know that it is often harder to be one of few than one of many, and I applaud her for being a role model for others to follow. We know that Bailey's unique background and skills will help her become a great music educator.
So here's to our girl, with a grateful heart for all the joy she has given us over the years. And here's to all the joy that is yet to come. Her father and I can't wait to watch her future unfold!

08 May 2015

Feline Friday

 Ohai guise! Is it FRIDAI yet?

Yep, Lily! It is indeed! 
Have a great Feline Friday!

07 May 2015

Recipe: Turkish Spiced Chicken Minus a Few Things

Hello and happy Thursday!
Last week I tried a great new recipe from The Splendid Table. I listen to this NPR show every time I get the chance, and I'm always amazed by Lynn Rossetto Kasper's seemingly endless knowledge about all food-type things. Her easy-going, positive manner makes even ME think I'm capable of doing big things in the kitchen!

Alas, true to form, I left out some of the ingredients in the title. Good grief. Still, the recipe was yummy, and I can only imagine how good it would be if you made it correctly! :) 

First, I couldn't find green or red chiles at the grocery store. So I substituted a red bell pepper (not spicy at all but RED!) and a green poblano pepper (mildly spicy and also GREEN!). I also forgot to buy the green olives. But I had some kalamata olives in the fridge (I hoard them) so sacrificed a FEW for the good of the cause. I also used regular balsamic vinegar instead of white. Who knew there was such a thing anyway? And finally, I do not have a ridged pan, so I just used a regular skillet. My chicken (I actually used breasts, not thighs) didn't look as FANCY it might have, but it was still good!

So here's a link to the recipe, Turkish Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish. For convenience, I've copied it below. Do visit the website for more information. I highly recommend this recipe, with or without forgetting a few ingredients! :)

Turkish Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish

For the chicken:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

For the relish:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • sea salt flakes 
  • 1 green chile
  • 1 red chile
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • leaves from 8 sprigs of 
mint, torn
  • 1/3 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • good squeeze of lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve

To marinate the chicken, mix the regular oil, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper together to make a marinade. Make little slits all over the underside of the pieces of chicken with the point of a knife. Put the chicken into a dish. Add the marinade and roll the chicken in it to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.

 Make the relish just before you cook the chicken. Put the garlic and salt into a mortar and bash it with a pestle until it is crushed. Halve and seed both chiles and chop them roughly. Add them to the mortar with the cilantro, mint, and olives and bash everything together, gradually adding the virgin olive oil and balsamic until you have a rough paste (it should be chunky, not puréed). Add lemon juice to taste and set aside.

(OK, PEOPLE...the relish is good enough to eat with a spoon! And I did!)

 Heat a ridged grill pan. Lift the chicken out of the marinade, shake off the excess, and set it on the pan. Start off cooking it on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 4 minutes. The chicken should be cooked right through and charred, but not burnt.

Serve the chicken with lemon wedges, rice or flatbread, a bowl of Greek yogurt, and the relish. Cucumber and a green salad are good, too.

From A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley 2015.

01 May 2015

Feline Friday: Monorail Tinsel

I recently found Tinsel doing a fine bit of monorailing, a noteworthy cat position which is possible now that we have a couch with a narrow back. 

If you're going to be a Monorail Cat, you have to do it properly -- NOT like Lily's past attempts. See more of her Monorail Fails HERE.

Good job, Tinsel!