Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yay - A Quilt Shop!

Mr. Squash and I are currently in Maryland for the 2nd of 3 days.  The pace has been pretty fast so I haven't been able to post until now.  I thought I'd do a short post on today's find!

We headed out after breakfast to do a little exploring.  I Googled quilt shops and found there was one a few miles from our hotel.  Took us a while to find it, but we did!  It's called Lilies of the Field.  Mr. Squash is a real sport and didn't mind stopping to indulge my habit passion.
This beautiful quilt was hanging outside next to the door.  Looks like it might have been a Block of the Month.
Here is another BOM - applique fans would love this one.  We are in the heart of Colonial America and this one reminded me of something from that era.
Not only is this a quilt shop, but also a Bernina Dealer!  Since I'm a Bernina gal I was doubly happy!  Here you see a third BOM!
 Someone here is learning her new Bernina software.
They have a nice mix of fabrics, and I found some I couldn't go home without!
Here are the Christmas fabrics I bought for some of my secret Christmas sewing.

We've been having a great time, but I really do sympathize with all of you who live on the East Coast!  You have to really be here to feel how oppressive the heat and humidity is!  My first day here I nearly melted into a little puddle.  It is much cooler today and even a bit less humid, but we hear the temps are going back up in the next couple of days.  If you don't see anymore here through the weekend, stay tuned for next week - I'll have lots to show!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jetting Out!

Tomorrow morning bright and early Mr. Squash and I are flying off to the land of the Cake Boss and Tony Soprano for 10 days.  Mr. Squash's family reunion is on Saturday and the following Saturday is his 50th high school reunion.  Actually, Tony and Buddy are from N Jersey.  Mr. Squash is from S Jersey, or as they say back there "Down Jersey".  He grew up not far from the beautiful seaside at Cape May.

I hope to blog our trip along the way which also includes a trip to Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay mid-week.  

Thought I would show you something fun we did recently - a Jeep drive up to a mountain top above town!

Here we are at the top looking down over our little town.  You can tell how hot and dry it has been.
This abandoned building was at the top.
Check out the beautiful fields of wheat and chick peas - the main crops of our valley - well, not including the wine grapes.

We stopped here on the way up to take a photo looking back.
Why did we take the Jeep?  Check out the grade on the dirt road - it was straight up (or down if like)!  Mr. Squash's Jeep navigated the terrain like it was nothing!  Nevertheless, I hung on for dear life!
If you click on this photo you'll see a few farmhouses nestled in here and there.  It must be so peaceful and quiet out here at night!

So, stay tuned for posts from Down Jersey!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rattlesnake Fishing & BOM Progress

The other day we heard about some small stream fishing - our favorite kind - about 3 hours from us.  In the spirit of spontaneity we decided to jump in the car the next day and check it out.  Fishing has been nearly non-existent for us so far this year and we were ready to catch and release a few nice cutthroat or trout.  Plus the weather has been in the high 90's for what seems like forever and we knew it would be a tad cooler up higher.
Why rattlesnakes, you ask?  The river is called the Rattlesnake River!  We really hoped that it wasn't actually named after the snake.  There are a few rivers in this area that do have them and I am deathly afraid of the buggers!  But, Mr. Squash and I are most certainly adventurous so we thought we'd take a look!  We began by driving all the way up to a lake above the headwaters of the river.  This was the view on the way up.  The distant mountains are around Chinook Pass.
Here is the lake at the top.  We were amazed at how low it was and the campgrounds around it were undergoing a renovation so no one was there. 
We spotted some colorful birds and I was able to get a quick photo before one flew away.  Mr. Squash correctly identified it as a Western Tanager.  Click on the photo for a better look.
After that we drove 4 miles back down to the river.  Here is what we found - still high and fast and not suited for fishing!  We tried a few casts but all it got us was having to clean the gear for another day!  I did, however, see a snake!  Oh, Lordy, you should have seen me run!  I don't think it was a rattler, but it was certainly bigger than a garter snake (or perhaps a well fed garter snake!).
We drove down here after lunch but it was just a tiny stream and a lot of empty campsites.  We even stopped at the ranger station farther down to see if they knew anything about rattlers in the area, but they didn't.  Hopefully we can ask some fishing guides in the area what they know before we attempt to go back again!
Here is Block #6 of my Cottage Rose BOM.  I'm not crazy about this one - not enough contrast in lights and darks for my taste.  The shop that is running this closed their doors, but I was able to buy the rest of the months and have them shipped to me.  I was pretty bummed out by this, so I kind of lost my enthusiasm for the program, but I'm sure it will come back once I begin the next block!  I was enjoying getting one each month and making it right away. Now that they are all sitting in a pile kind of takes the excitement of getting a new one each month away.  Has this ever happened to you?
I had to do some major trimming of my European Cranberry the other day.  Rather than throw away all of the gorgeous branches with berries attached, I thought why not make an arrangement!  I mixed them with some lace leaf hydrangea - unusual, but pretty!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Garden Update & Squirrel Chasing

Here is it nearly mid-July and our garden is reaching it's peak.  Before things start to go downhill with all the heat we're having (96 today, 100 yesterday, but dry), I thought I would show you some of the progress.

This is the west side of the yard where Mr. Squash has the bulk of his tomatoes and his precious Marigolds. There are 5 tomato plants here but they're getting so bushy it's getting hard to tell them apart!  On either end are my semi- dwarf apple trees (Honeycrisp & Ginger Gold), but they won't begin producing for another year or two.  There is also a potato tower in the back, a trumpet vine on the fence which has yet to bloom, and an espaliered pear.
We had a late hailstorm and lost most of the pears save for several Red Bartletts which you see here. There is a yellow Bartlett up top that I didn't photograph.
This plant grows on a trellis on the other side of the fence, but it was so bright I couldn't get a good photo.  It creeps through the fence to the other side and we just let it continue to creep!
The fuschias in the window box out front are blooming.  Couldn't be prettier for a north facing box!
This part of the yard has been an experiment for me.  I'm trying out different textured and colored perennials. Mr. Squash had to sneak in some dwarf zinnias, too.
Here is our blueberry patch.  All the bushes (even the new immature ones) are loaded!  Mr. Squash goes out every other morning and picks them fresh for our cereal and some yummy desserts!
The grapes are coming along nicely!  If you click on the photo you can see how big they're getting!
This Hollyhock finally bloomed.  We have several but this is the only one to bloom so far.
You can tell how hot and dry it is from this photo.  The Echinacea are doing really well and look much better than the picture shows.
Right next door is a dwarf Buddleia davidii or commonly called Butterfly Bush.  I got it mail order as a tiny plant 2 years ago.  Look at it go!  The proof is in the pudding, too, as we are seeing lots of butterflies right now!
Check out my rhubarb!  It will go through the entire summer!  Anyone want to come over and pick some?  Lettuce is behind it.  I already picked the garlic to the left so only 2 lonely pepper plants are left.
Some things are doing better than others this year - namely the carrots which take up an entire box!
A look at some of the perennials.  Wish I had shown you these a few weeks ago - the blooms were incredible.
Check it out - we are finally getting green beans!  I plan to pickle some this year!
Here is Mr. Squash with his new, battery operated squirrel gun!  The little buggers go after the grape vines and the maple tree bark, not to mention the strawberries!
Any time we see one, he gets ready, aims, and can fire nearly a 20 foot stream of water!  It's fun to see them go running.  Lately, however, they sometimes just sit and cackle at him because of the heat!  The water actually cools them off and they come back for more!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Let's Eat!

Not much to write about here lately.  Mr. Squash and I are in a sort of "summer puttering around" mode.  Nothing too exciting, yet nothing too boring!  Our fishing adventure a while back turned out to be a non-fishing adventure.  The river was still too high and muddy because of all the rain we had in June.  Also, the river bank is brushy and thick which doesn't lend to very good casting.

I thought I'd do some more cooking posts just to spice things up!

How does this look?  Juicy and tender Beer-can Chicken with Roasted Veggies!
We got a new cooking gadget recently from one of my favorite catalogs, Williams-Sonoma.  It's a vertical chicken roaster.  If you watch any of the cooking shows you've probably seen a lot of grill chefs place a whole chicken over an open, full can of beer.  This gadget makes it much easier in my opinion.  Here's how you do it...
Clean and wash a whole 4-5 pound chicken, pat dry with paper towels.  Rub about 2 Tblsp olive oil over entire chicken then salt and pepper the bird.  Set aside while you prepare the veggies.

Wash and remove seeds from one red and one yellow bell pepper.  Slice both vertically into 1/4" thick slices.  Peel and half a whole onion (I chose to use a local Walla Walla Sweet onion, but you can also use a red onion) and cut into 1/4" slices.  Places in a bowl with about 2 Tblsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Place 1 cup of beer in center of your chicken roaster.  Any beer will do.  We don't drink so we just found an inexpensive single can of beer at the grocery store.
Set your grill up for indirect heating.  Place Mr. Chicken over the beer holder, legs down and onto the grill.  Oh, the indignity of it all for poor Mr. Chicken!
Add your veggies around the sides (you can see that I added some quartered red potatoes at the last minute) and begin roasting with the lid on.  Baste the bird every 15-20 minutes with your choice of bottled BBQ sauce.  We used a local sauce that we love.
Maintain the heat of the grill between 350 and 450F.
You might not want to do what I did - barbecue when it is 94 degrees outside!  It actually got to 95 a bit later.  At least we aren't suffering the humidity of the folks on the east coast!
Remove from the grill when the internal temp is 170 degrees F.  You can see the top is a bit browned here, which is because Mr. Chicken was so large he touched the top of the inside of the grill!  (I'll go smaller next time).  The good news is it didn't affect the meat at all.  Remove the veggies and chicken from the roaster.  Allow the chicken to sit at room temp for about 10 minutes before carving.
The chicken was moist, tender, and oh, so deeeelicious!  And the veggies were to die for!
What's for dessert, you say?  How about Crunchy Blueberry Tart from Marie over at the English Kitchen!  I've been making lots and lots of her desserts which are always so yummy!  Our blueberry crop is beginning to come on quite strong, so you may be seeing a lot of blueberry recipes here in the near future!
Serve with a bit of Greek Vanilla Yogurt and you have a meal made in heaven!