Monday, July 27, 2009

Yesterdays antics

Evidence that I did cook all day, incase you dont believe me!

I had lots more pictures, but since Ive temporarily misplaced my camera, I had to use Dannys and its way too complicated, so they were all blurry!

My lemon plum tomato, isnt it cute!

So of course I came home and picked tons more tomatoes and cucumbers this afternoon. Why couldnt you have been ready yesterday to go in the marinara? eh.

I went cycling after work today and managed to see a turkey wandering through the woods and a rather large, and I suspect rather poisonous snake sunbathing in the road. When I got home I went out into the flower bed I had planned to do yesterday to at least get a start. I was considering going in to cook dinner when something that sounded awfully large moved in the bushes, very quickly. Since I had seen the snake in the road I instantly thought it was a snake and as I was only wearing sandles I decided to bolt out of the flower bed. I of course wanted to know what it was though! We have only ever had one large snake in the back, because of the dogs I suppose, and it was a King Snake, shame the dogs ripped it to shreds really, they are good to have around. So I stood on the bench out of harms way (on the other side of the small fence) and poked around with a stick and it moved again. Well it was the largest toad I have ever seen in my life. It was about as long as both of my fists together and as wide as one and a half. I fully intend to get a picture of him/her tomorrow if its still there. Oh mini-camera, where oh where are you!?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Still enjoying my Sunday!

I succeeded in making all of the things that I wanted to make and cooked so much today that I am not cooking dinner! 7 jars of fig ginger preserve, 2 quarts of marinara, 4 french baguettes, 16 bagels, two loaves and 5 rolls of multi-grain bread and 3 jars of pesto, oh and two cups of tea! I have eaten one bagel, and shared one multi-grain roll and a baguette and am about to eat two mini-cinnamon scones from the freezer. Ive got rather a lot of burns from stupidity and picked more tomatoes and cucumbers when I was out scouting for parsley. Now Im settling down to an evening of tv to ready myself for a week of work.

Enjoying my sunday

Today begun tremendously stormy with instantaneous lightening and thunder so of course both Tux and I were scared. I made sure I had a manly arm across my side (as I now have my very own man home!) and Tux made sure he was perfectly positioned next to my side of the bed getting tickled behind the ears. It was so dark in the room because of the black clouds that before I knew it, it was 9am! Thats about the latest Ive stayed in bed, asleep, for probably months!

Today is an ambitious one for me. I started french baguettes yesterday so I get to bake them today. I have already prepared bagels and multi-grain bread, Im just letting them rise. I pruned the rosemary bush yesterday so I intend to make garlic focaccia bread today also, but I might prepare it and put the dough in the fridge for tomorrow. Its not all for me! In fact I probably wont keep much of the bread I make today. It was my friends mums birthday friday so I thought Id send her some jam and fresh bread. My girlies have expressed an interest in some baguettes (although Im going to keep one of those!). I am making some as a thank you for Glenn Wilson, a gentleman from work who brought me 3 bags of blackberries, 2 bags of plums and 2 bags of figs during the week. And I thought my handsome young husband would like some fresh hot bagels for his breakfast, if he ever gets out of bed! Its 1030am already! While all of the bread is proofing Im going to attempt to make my own recipe up for fig and ginger preserve, which I am especially excited about! The list goes on... I have an entire colander full of tomatoes from my garden so Im going to make some marinara with those and finally I have to trim to the basil so Im going to make pesto, although I couldnt find pine nuts at the supermarket yesterday so its going to be roasted hazelnuts instead.

Oh and its stopped raining now and should be clear til about 3pm so I might go out and weed a flower bed! Ive got a new outlook on weeding... rather than being daunted by it and never getting started because there is too much to do, Im just going to go out and do a flower bed and then quit for the day. Yesterday I did a small flower bed by the house and the veggie patch. It only took about 4 hours and it felt good to get some done but I didnt feel exhausted and like Id spent my entire day in the garden. So which bed today!?

I found a bright green tree frog hidden among the cucumber and bean vines, so Ill try and get a picture of him if I can just find my camera! The veggie patch is beginning to look a bit better, with all this rain. Some of the tomato plants are dying (too much water!) but some are thriving and I finally got some Plum Lemons; they are incredible, bright yellow and just like a lemon! Ive now got marigold bushes, zinnias and sunflowers within the tomatoes so it even looks pretty! There are lots of little cucumbers getting ready and some green beans. Summer 's grandfathers hot pepper plant has gone crazy this year and the basil and oregano is finally growing well, but other than that, its a bit of a loss this year, no squash or zucchini, no bell or banana peppers and the corn all got eaten while I was away.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An ode to my boys

I am home alone with nobody but my furkids to keep me company. I tried to snap some pictures of them earlier, the light was low and my photographer is away right now so please forgive the terrible photos. Infact upon closer inspection, my pictures are terrible but here is one of them together and one of Mr Mojo's wonderful haircut. I promise to get better pictures at the weekend when Danny comes home. They have been good to me this week, my babies!

Oh, and his ears arent always up like this, its just that the camera made a funny noise when focusing without a flash and his ears perked up every time!

I made another amazing discovery tonight! If you are busy one evening but want a delicious dinner, you must try making this, its a cinch! This makes enough for two. Erm, what shall we call it, Butternut squash and fig spaghetti, not a very original name eh!

Preheat oven to 400F
Peel and thinly slice half a butternut squash (my slices were about 0.5 cm wide)
Slice half an onion
Place in baking dish with some vegetable oil and honey and bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile get a saucepan ready with water for wholewheat spaghetti and cook according to package directions.
Add a handful of halved figs to baking dish and bake a further 8-10 minutes.
Toss the baked food with the spaghetti and if you like, throw in some feta, blue or gorganzola cheese. Absolutely delicious and oh so simple! I can tell this is going to be a household favourite in the fall!

Collected some more tomatoes today, some of the big ones! Might make marinara for my love at the weekend! Or some tomato basil soup for myself!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The rain is following me!

I swear to you, the rain is following me! I cant say rain during the summer in Mississippi is a bad thing though, so I wont moan about it.

Im home!

Some minor disasters on the way home, but nothing we cant handle. I had no tv for the duration of my 9 hour flight from Amsterdam. Only unfortunate because I was actually looking forward to watching some movies and because they actually had some I wanted to watch. Lots of people actually didnt have tv's in service, so it wasnt just me. I found the government car that Danny had left me just fine, although I did have to put gas in it, yeah thanks Danny. Picked up the dogs and drove home, getting increasingly tired. Went to the lab to get the car, let the dogs run around the grounds a little, unsurprisingly they were extraordinarily excited. This is where we hit our largest issue, although it was easily fixed, thanks to Megan and Andy... my car was dead. Someone (mentioning no names, Danny!) had left an interior light on and the battery was dead. Luckily Andy was just down the road and also luckily Danny had recently bought jumper cables, so I was on my way in no time! Left the car running a while when I got home, just in case. Picked some tomatoes and cucumbers as night crept in, ate some ice cream and went to bed, absolultely exhausted!

It rained on and off all day so I didnt get outside into the increasingly unkept garden. I cleaned the kitchen thoroughly, fridge and oven and all! Very satisfying. Shaved and shampooed Mr Mojo, at least until the thunder started up again and he wanted to go inside, but at that stage I only had his belly left, so I figured it wasnt so bad to leave it. Had my full body massage during the afternoon and bought a few things from the Farmers Market, since my vegetable patch isnt doing very well. I did make a lovely salad for lunch though, from my garden, mostly... cucumber, tomato, corn and pine nuts ( the last of which were not from my garden) with soy sauce, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar and a dash of honey, salt and pepper. Delicious! I did enjoy being waited on hand and foot and my parents house last week and ate yummy dinners in Lower Bourne but if you like cooking, there is nothing like cooking for yourself. For dinner today I had some white fish from the freezer (I think Charlie Bryant caught it in the spring) with a peach and blueberry chutney (which incidentally was delicious: peaches chopped, blueberries, onions, balsamic vinegar, nutmeg, cinnamon and a small amount of honey, yummy!), zucchini, green beans and boiled potatoes! So simple and so delicious. 20 minutes from start to finish.

Going to try and stay busy this week so that I dont notice that I am man-less for four more days.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An unexpected day!

I got up and went for a jog nice and early before work this morning. Very refreshing!

The weather had said light rain all day but it is beautifully sunny. We drove almost two hours to a site in West Sussex that looked at least chest deep! So we drove on back and went to a site on the Blackwater River that was also too deep for me to do my work. Instead I helped Tom and we got finished in just a couple of hours. Since there are no more sites left, today has become the last day of field work! Awesome! So instead of having to work hard in the rain for two more days, it seems I just had to take some notes down for someone for an afternoon!

Back to the rents ranch tomorrow then for another relaxing weekend of nothingness until I go back to office work. Im rather excited about seeing my babies monday evening!

We are going to eat at the same pub we ate at last night where I had possibly the best crab cakes Ive ever had in my life! and possibly a good old English dessert is in store!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Old Friends...

I was especially fortunate last night to get to visit with my two closest friends at University. It was such a pleasure to see Lisa and Buzzy, it really was.

My evening started out a little disastrously though, I must confess! I thought we had arranged that Lisa would pick me up at Winchester train station but that I would call her with a time, since I didnt know what time fieldwork would end. So I was happily sitting on the train reading my book when I received a text message from Lisa. I picked up my phone to read the text and inadvertently switched it off. When I switched it back on it did the worst possible thing, it black screened! The only time it has done this to me before was when I was trying to meet up with Anais in Paris. I guess my phone just doesnt like me seeing friends. Jealousy is an ugly thing, particularly in a telephone. So my phone rendered totally useless, I was stranded. I got off at Winchester and waited at the entrance to the station. No Lisa. Somehow, goodness knows how, I remembered my parents phone number and called Dave. I asked him to look in the phone as I had dialed her number sunday and there should a number in the phone that he didnt recognise. Alas, it only stores the 10 last dialed numbers and she was number 11. Ok. Ill just wait at Winchester a little longer, ever hopeful. Having collected my mum from the station, lucky her! Dave called me back at the pay phone which I was standing outside like a real dodgy character; he had checked the other phone and her number was there! He had called her and she said to go to Southampton and to call her and let her know what time it got in. So I buy a ticket and was about to call her when the train arrives so I dash to the platform and board the train. Well, there are two Southampton Train Stations. yeay. Im sure Dave told me which one, but in my excitement at no longer being stranded in the middle of no where, I guess I didnt hear it. So I got off at Southampton Central, which inevitably was the wrong train station. I had to throw myself at the mercy of the station staff and ask them to let me board a train back to Southampton Airport Station without buying a new ticket and they said it would be fine. So eventually, about 3 hours after I departed from my B&B, Buzzy and Lisa were there to greet me at the station! I actually cried with relief at seeing them!

We had a lovely evening. Lisa made fajhitas and I drank the new trendy drink for the summer in England, pear cider. Despite being very skeptical, it was really nice. Too nice actually, as I drank too much of it alongside some fizzy wine, yes, we are classy, and dehydration from the day in the field. That with going to bed at about 1am and getting up at 6am meant that this morning was a little bit of a struggle for me! But it was totally totally worth it!

The important friends in life are the ones you can not see for three or four years and jump straight back in to conversation with as if it were yesterday that you were attending 8am monday morning remote sensing classes with. The friends that are important to me are the ones that I dont have to try with, I know that is selfish, but Im lazy and I just want to surround myself with people I feel comfortable with. So thank you, Lisa and Buzzy, for a wonderfully comfortable and effort free night. I did remember how annoying being around two particularly tall women was though! If thats all I have to complain about, then our friendships will last the decades. I hope so at least. Thank you! You are wonderful people.

Here's to great friends, where ever you are in the world.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The nasty things that grow alongside rivers...

Stinging netttles
Stinging netttles
Stinging netttles

Stinging netttles, poison ivy, mosquitos. What is it with rivers and things that irritate your skin and make you itch?

Im off to visit Lisa Ponty down on the south coast in Titchfield. Awesome!

Monday, July 13, 2009

First day of work

545am: wake up
550am: grapefruit juice down the hatch
615am: driven to the train station
645am: board commuter train to London Kings Cross
720am: disembark train at London Kings Cross and walk to underground
725am: Victoria line to Warren Street
730am: Northern line to Waterloo Station
740am: walk to train station and wait to see what platform to go to. Platform 8.
815am: Leave Waterloo Train station on Portsmouth Harbour train.
850am: Disembark at Farnborough and get met by Tom, my contact at Kings College.
Drive to field site on the Rother in Sussex and Minijet all day in a field full of Bulls.
5pm: Leave fieldsite (and bulls) and drive to B&B in Farnham. Lovely place.
515pm: Shower.
545pm: Drive to Angela Gurnells house to meet the Kings College contacts and go out for a curry.
915pm: Get back to room exhausted but pleasantly full.

All day: Miss my wonderful husband.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The other side of the pond

So Im in England. Again! Isnt it great!

I arrived very early thursday morning, having not slept a wink on the plane. Dave was not only kind enough to pick me up from the airport but to then make me a cooked English breakfast when we got home! I couldnt help thinking how jealous my handsome husband would be that I was eating good bacon without him! Dave let me take a nap but woke me up after an hour; when I begged for longer, he let me sleep another 30 minutes. We picked mum up after work and went out for Chinese.

Friday I had to actually do some work! It was alright though; after a week of rain, I got lucky to stay warm and dry all day. Especially lucky since I didnt bring a rain jacket!

The weather is definitely not as I expected. I brought summer dresses and shorts and just threw in a pair of jeans last minute, and boy am I glad I did! It rained most of the day saturday and was pretty chilly (that is at least coming from someone who has been used to 100F weather!). We tried to go to Cambridge but there was tons of traffic and tourists for the strawberry festival so we just headed down to Epping to meet my sister, where upon we got stuck in a traffic jam on the M11. Great. Lunch was nice though. Mum and I ordered sandwiches and then this huge plate of at least 6 different cured meats and 5 thick slices of bread got placed infront of Jade, the smallest one at the table! I found myself again thinking of how jealous Danny would be of all the meat Jade was consuming! Why do I always think of Danny when there is food around!

Ive enjoyed two days of having nothing to get up for! I wake up around 7am and lay there until around 930am. Unheard of at home! Ive now spent the day doing nothing, and I see why people do it. Its rather relaxing. Although its not 3pm and I also see why I dont do this more than about once a year! I got up around 930am, had some juice. We rode to the train station to buy my ticket for tomorrow morning where the little guy in the booth told me I was a Lulu and he just couldnt believe my stupidity for not realising that I could buy a ticket straight to Farnborough rather than having to buy one from here to Kings Cross then one from Waterloo to Farnborough. Different companies own the trains, how was I supposed to know! Then I went for a jog out in the blustery but sunny weather. Its really frustrating being unfit when you are not used to it. I walked a lot, again, something Im not used to doing when out for a jog. Took a shower, ate some homemade jam on bread and sat outside reading my book and listening to the incredible strong winds and singing birds around me. I think the rest of the afternoon brings a Skype converstation with my beloved and a roast dinner made by my mummy. Yeay!

Off to work nice and early tomorrow morning. Got to catch the 645am with my mum to arrive in Farnborough around 9am ish. Ah well, guess they sent me here so I spose I should do some work!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Getting ready

Sometimes you are rushing around frantically before a trip, trying to get ready. Its even worse when going on a fieldtrip, particularly when you are in charge, because you dont just have to remember your clothes but you have to remember field clothes and waders and anything that you feel you need with you in the field. But sometimes, and this is one of those times, there really is nothing to think about. Im not in charge of the fieldtrip, so I just have to make sure I get on a couple of planes and meet Dave at the other end thursday morning. I also finished a major project at work last week so havent really had anything to do. Oh, and my boss away so there is no one asking me for things. I squared everyone away on other fieldtrips and equipment from now until September and Ive got my few things together. So there I was at 1400 hours today, staring at my empty computer screen wondering what on earth to do with myself. So I decided that was silly and I came home to pack, which I am especially grateful for because now I dont have to rush around doing it tonight.

I topped and tailed 2 lbs of green beans, blanched them and put them up in the freezer. I skinned, pitted and sliced an entire box of peaches, which was so slimy that it was fun! And then I began thinking, is this normal? Is it really normal for a person to put so much food up!? So please tell me, do normal people do this kind of thing? I also just realised that I have to grate the zucchini for the freezer too. Righto. Best get on that!

My faithful boys are lying at my feet, unawares that tomorrow morning will be their last walk in two weeks. This knowledge makes me sad as I know how much they love to go walking and exploring. agh. Nothing to be done about it.

Since I have just been dropping milestones randomly into my posts lately (some of which probably go unnoticed!)... some of you may have known that I was working on a blanket for my mother for about the past 3 years. Well, yes, I finally finished it in time for her birthday this year! I was actually really sad to give it up. Really sad. It is a master piece! Now I get to make something for myself :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fresh fruit and veg!

Well every saturday morning I get up in time to be at the farmers market at 7am so that I get the pick of the crop. I love it! I have never liked peaches and blueberries before but I have become addicted lately! Then there is the beautifully crunchy zucchini and the organic hormone and antibiotic free chicken, pork and beef. My wonderful husband even rode out into the country and climbed a ladder to pick fresh plums from a work colleagues tree. Awesome! So last saturday I made about 5 jars of spiced plum and apple butter (apples I put up from the farmers market last fall), 7 jars of ginger spiced plums, and 8 jars each of blueberry marmalade and blueberry cherry preserve. It really does take a long time to pit and chop 3 cups of cherries!

So you know what I did last saturday afternoon! Im pretty behind eh!

Last week was pretty uneventful so lets skip forward to this weekend! I laid in front of the tv thursday afternoon, that was particularly uncharacteristic and relaxing, I wasnt feeling well... you knew there had to be a reason! Friday I went shopping to Jackson MS with my girlfriends and bought the bedding I had been coveting for months! It always pays to wait for the things you want, just to make sure you want them! They are beautiful and its like sleeping in a posh hotel! When we redecorate out bedroom, Ill take a pic of it all. We have redecorated our closet. You may be thinking, why waste money and time on a closet. But you have no idea how refreshing it is to go into your closet and not have this impulse to rip all the clothes off the shelves because it was so cluttered and awful. But not any more! I havent taken a photo of it yet, but Danny out did himself again, it is beautiful, clean and organised! I love it! Now just the bathroom and bedroom to finish it off!

Saturday we went to Aunt Pat's, ate lots of food and played on the lake for 4th July. Fun fun fun! I skipped out on the Grove band and fireworks saturday evening as I was rather tired and successfully ironed most of my pile. I did some more sunday and tonight and gave up on the last three shirts (Danny has three nemesis shirts and I just cant bear them!) so he is finishing them off right now!

We have watched more tv in the past few days than I have watched in weeks!

Oh, something else that I forgot that is rather exciting... we have had the first tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden! They are delicious! Since Im not going to be here to eat them, I am have marinaded them and am drying them to get packed in oil. Delicious on salads and pizzas in the winter when you cant get fresh tomatoes. Im a little disappointed with my garden this year to be honest. The area by the fence that I have used for years needs to be rested. The bell peppers have all been eaten by bugs. The zucchini and squash just hasnt grown and the basil, which usually blooms in my garden, is not doing so well at all. Im really disappointed as we had a wonderful crop of pesto last year that saw us all the way through til June, but I dont think thats going to happen this year. Sad. Fingers crossed that the deer and rabbits dont go to town next week when Im not here to defend it.

So I leave wednesday for England. On my own. I hate travelling on my own. ugh. But I get to see my family, again! Which is wonderful!

There is not too much blooming in my garden right now, we had our first rain in over a month yesterday, so I leave you these blooms from when we got back from our vacation.