third time is the charm with a spot for a lamp

I have this table in the family room that I have been trying to find a lamp that was just right for it for a few years.

Above is lamp number three. And the third time is the charm!

I went out to the Smithfield Barn today. My friend Kristin had just acquired this newly rewired converted antique oil lamp. It’s green glass.

I love colored glass.

The lamp had a chimney and a plain white shade. I won’t tell you exactly what I paid because I bundled, but trust me it was next to nothing.

But when I came home I realized the pierced and hand cut and colored vintage lampshade I had been resisting getting rid of was the perfect shade for this lamp!

I am very psyched that I now finally have found the lamp that works best!

desserts from memory lane

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A ladyfingers cake photo I found on the Internet

I have been hunting through my recipe binder for my banana cake recipe.  What I found instead was this old recipe for…wait for it…. ladyfinger cake…

I have zero idea where it came from, someone gave it to me ages (as in decades) ago.  Tiramasu is sort of a ladyfingers cake too isn’t it? And some Icebox cakes?

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I went a Googling and found  additional recipes for ladyfinger cake:

Tia Spring’s Lady Finger Cake

Bittersweet Chocolate-Rum Icebox Cake

Strawberry Ladyfinger Icebox Cake

Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cake

There are actually a LOT of ladyfinger cake recipes.  I am guessing what is old is new again?

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Another photo of a ladyfinger cake found on the Internet….

small pots

So Sunday I went over to my friend Kristin’s to learn how to make vertical succulent gardens . What I made (with Kristin’s guidance) is above.

Originally I wanted to make a succulent frame but the drill battery died so we couldn’t screw a back to a vintage picture frame, so I went hunting in her barn for something else to plant with so I chose a vintage mesh strainer or deep fryer basket.

As you can see above, it’s not a huge thing. The basket is about 6 inches in diameter.

First I lined the basket with burlap. I stitched it in up top on the rim with thick thread. You could also use thin twine, fishing line, or something like that. It was suggested to do a quick whip stitch around the circumference and a couple of tack stitches inside the basket to keep it from shifting.

Next I added the soil, and packed it in. After that we cut a chicken wire circle a few inches bigger than the opening and bent it over the dirt and around the edges like a lid. I used a thin, pliable wire to “stitch” it to the rim of the basket.

I was now ready to pick my succulents. Kristin had bought this amazing array of little succulents from a succulent farm (yes there is such a thing!)

I just started stuffing little plants in the holes of the chicken wire until it was kind of full. Then I gave it a sprinkle of water and took it home and hung it up.

The trick for me will be keeping succulents just moist enough to live. I am not a huge succulent person because, well, I kill them. But slowly I have conquered my fear of orchids and citrus plants, so I am trying succulents once again.

But succulents and I have been trying to co-exist since I was like 8 years old and the local bank at the time would give little succulents out every time you made a deposit to your account. So I kept depositing bits of change and a dollar or two here or there with my mother’s help until I had an entire windowsill full of little succulent plants.

Then I killed them one by one. Probably by overwatering. However, the fact that most of them also sat on a large drafty windowsill of a large 19th window with original glass – not the lovely modern low-E glass. – I am guessing I overwatered and froze them.

I am thinking I will spritz my succulents occasionally with a water bottle. I am not sure what I will do with this when winter arrives.

I found this article HERE from Good Succulents that seems to be a good guide to creating your own hanging succulent vertical garden/wall planter. Good Succulents also has an article on caring for succulents indoors.

Also when I was rummaging around in Kristin’s barn yesterday I came across two small Guy Wolfe pottery pots. I have been obsessed with these Connecticut-made flower pots that are reminiscent of their English-made cousins for decades.

So since Kristin got me to try succulents again, so when I went to Home Depot today I bought two small inexpensive succulents. I purchased a jade plant and an aloe plant. And a small bag of citrus/cactus potting soil. I think they look perfect in the Guy Wolfe pots.

I think these are my last pots being planted for the season. But hey it’s me, so never say never….

mother nature is a cruel mistress.

Have you seen the bitty baby fawn?” My neighbors asked.

Everyone on my road was so excited by the baby fawn and the mama doe who would appear at dusk in the cornfield like clockwork. I was the only one who hadn’t seen it yet. I kept my camera on the ready at dusk but I would only see adult deer not the baby.

Until about an hour ago.

Earlier this afternoon I was over at my friends house and she had been conducting this class on vertical succulent gardening made out of re-purposed items. Well I made one and I wanted to hang it on the wall on my front porch.

So I went out to the porch. All I heard was the buzzing of flies. Then there was a slight breeze and this unmistakable odor of death walked by. At first I didn’t see anything. And I knew from the smell something was dead somewhere and then all of a sudden I saw it- the baby fawn my neighbors were so excited to see.

My first reaction was to scream. Actually it was probably closer to a guttural howl because to see that juxtaposition of innocence and death is a little more than I can handle.

Then I started to cry. Then I called to my husband, only to remember he wasn’t home yet.

Mother Nature isn’t just a cruel mistress today, she’s a bitch. I understand this is the theory of Darwinism in effect, but it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s easy to see roadkill on the side of the road and keep on going, because you won’t have to think about it again. But to see this, literally in the middle of one of my flowerbeds underneath an azalea bush, is just gut-wrenching.

I can’t clean baby fawn up. I don’t think I am even going to be able to sit on my front porch for quite a while. All I hear, even in the air conditioning, is the buzzing of all those damn flies.

My husband says from what he can tell it looks like it came to my garden to hide and die. I just feel so awful I didn’t even know it was there. He’s not sure it was actually attacked. He thinks it came to my garden to die.

There is also another dead fawn deep in our woods my husband tells me. He took baby fawn to be buried. The second fawn doesn’t look like it was attacked so maybe it was deer wasting disease?

I was having an awesome day until this. Mother Nature you are a joy sucker today. I know my husband thinks I am being a drama queen and it’s a wild animal and it’s nature, but I just am so sad right in this moment.

RIP baby fawn.

not your grandmother’s cucumber salad

One of my favorite cucumber salads is made by Hu Nan Restaurant in Ardmore. It’s hot and sweet. They do a similar cabbage salad as well.

I have never been able to exactly replicate their cucumber salad, but they have inspired my updating a summer staple.

I take three English hothouse cucumbers and peel and slice them into thin rounds. These are the cucumbers considered “burpless”. If I don’t like the way they look at the grocery store, I will use regular cucumbers and peel and cut them in half and scoop out the seeds.

When my cucumbers are all sliced I put them in a bowl and toss them with salt to taste and about 4 tablespoons of white sugar and set aside.

Salt. I am in love with a locally made seasoning salt my husband found for me. It’s called Jake’s Prime Seasoning Salt. It’s a small batch salt from Wallingford, PA. You can order it on their website. It is the first seasoning salt that I think can give Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt a run for her money.

Next I slice up thin one red onion and cut it into more bite size pieces. I add that to my bowl.

Sometimes I add a chopped up red bell pepper to this, but never a green bell pepper.

Following adding the red onion to the bowl, I add the fresh dill. I love dill and do not have a set pre-measured amount. I just chop up a healthy handful from my garden (if I have it and at present almost depleted thanks to the rain), or I buy a bunch at the grocery store.

Next comes the “dressing”. I usually just eyeball it but will attempt to write it down:

1/4 white wine vinegar (or half wine vinegar and half rice wine vinegar)

2 teaspoons of sesame seed oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes or Hatch green chile flakes

I wisk the dressing together in a little bowl, pour it over the cucumbers and onions and dill in the larger bowl and mix it all up. Then I cover and refrigerate until it’s time for dinner (or lunch as it also makes a lovely luncheon salad.)

Enjoy!

even in the rain there are garden bright spots

I will admit, I have spent the past couple of days being garden cranky. Too much rain! I missed the memo where they moved Chester County, PA to Seattle, WA.

The woodland toads are happy, the slugs are happy, but me? I’m getting tired of small pools of ponding water everywhere in my garden. I just have to accept if we don’t get some good sun soon, some of my plants will rot, except I think some are already starting to rot.

I have done my best to bit by bit try to amend the soil in places where it is a heavy clay content, but all the rain has shown me where I missed. The soil in spots is extra bad with all of the rain. Shiny bright clay. Ugh. Time to dig in more grit, more sand.

But even in the midst of soggy city, where weeds grow faster than I can pull them some days, there are just so many pretty things starting to bloom now.

Hydrangeas, monarda, roses, echinacea, and daylilies all popping open one by one. The march of summer colors has begun.

Color makes a garden sing. Just make sure your colors are harmonious or you might create the headache space instead. It’s true. I have over the years had to move things because the colors were jarring where they were.

All of the rain this spring has caused a jungle lushness. And things are blooming or getting ready to bloom ahead of schedule – like a lot of my hostas. A lot of my hostas have seemingly overnight shot up flower stalks and buds.

Before the thunderstorms and crazy downpour, I wandered the garden doing a little deadheading and weeding. I also finally transplanted the zinnias I grew from seed. But mostly I just enjoyed the vibrant garden colors of June.

I also checked out where I needed to do more work. Like put down more stone on a path. With all the rain I could see where I needed more stone. Groan…I wish I did not have to put down more stone anymore than the fact I still have more wood chips to put down. Sadly, gardening isn’t all planting pretty flowers.

But we do need to take the time to sit back and look at the pretty flowers. Even in the rain.

Rain rain go away….