Coincidence? I Think Not.

OK, I know I've been away from LJ for a while -- I've been hanging out mostly on Facebook, and doing a lot of work at my kids' school... but now I'm back.

For your consideration:

The Sarah Palin is-it-sexist-or-is-it-not Newsweek cover:

The cover of the teen chick-lit book, Pretty Little Liars:

I'm just sayin'.

Recipes By Request

In response to a couple of emails, here are recipes I've promised folks:

Patti's AssKicking Curry Mayonnaise

Most homemade mayo recipes call for dry mustard - the problem is that dry mustard nearly always contains wheat flour, which I can't eat. So in the interest of kicking things up a notch, I put together a mayo recipe with curry powder instead -- naturally, the mayo looks a little yellow (my son thought it was pudding), but the flavor is awesome.

1/4 C. Eggbeaters
1/4 C. Olive oil
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. lemon juice

Add all of these to the bowl of your food processor, and blend together. Then slowly pour in:

1 C. canola oil

Mix off and on until it's nice and thick and creamy. Store in your fridge - it's good for two weeks or so, if you haven't eaten it all by then.

Basic Pesto Recipe

4 C freshly picked basil leaves, washed and packed
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1 C olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C toasted pine nuts (optional)
Salt and pepper

Blend them all together in your food processor or blender. Add to pasta, or (as in my case) eat with a spoon, smeared on cheese, or glopped onto a cracker. Nom nom nom.

First Harvest

Sunday was Litha, or Midsummer, so it's the time of year when the gardens are really starting to look good. It's not quite hot or dry enough for things to die yet, and everything is green and lush and full. I got back from a week and a half of vacation, and found that in my absence my tomato plants had shot up a good three feet, the sunflowers are as tall as I am, and the beans and cucumbers are not only climbing their trellises but also the neighboring fence.

The herb circle looks good, if a bit sparse -- I mulched it this year with straw, which makes for an odd appearance but far less weeding. The basil is nice and green, and the three sage clumps I transplanted back in the spring have survived nicely. They're flowering, so I plucked those off, and gathered up some lovely white sage to dry and burn. I trimmed back the nearby lemon balm, in hopes that better light will get to the rosemary, which seems a bit wanky so far. It's getting taller, but not much fuller.

Of the eight corn stands I put in at Breanna's request, five are looking good - about chest high already, and I can see where the cobs are beginning to form. The other three look sort of meh - I suspect the dog may have taken a nap on them when I wasn't looking. The greens are nice and thick, so I thinned them out, and so far Mr. McBunbuns has not been nibbling on them, so that's a good thing. First picking of the season, and here's what I got:

Two pounds of green onions
Half a pound of parsley
A boatload of basil - enough to make a full quart of pesto sauce
Enough arugula to fill TWO gallon-size ziplock bags
About a half pound of romaine lettuce

Also, in the interest of working smarter, not harder, I tried something new this year. Usually I pick my stuff, toss it in my giant basket, and bring it all in to clean it up in the kitchen. This leads to about four pounds of dirt and several surprised spiders in my kitchen sink each time, which I have to clean up. This year, I finally figured out that if I spray all the stuff off with the hose OUTSIDE before I toss it in the basket, there's a lot less dirt to sweep up in the house. It only took me a couple of decades of gardening to grok onto that.

So lunch today was an open-faced turkey sandwich on homemade bread, smeared with pesto, and a boatload of onions and arugula. I swear, my favorite meals are the ones I can get fresh from my back yard.

First Harvest

The Pleasures of Simple Shopping

So yesterday Dave and I decided to go try out a farmer's market I'd read about down in Lancaster, about 20 minutes away. Honestly, I figured I'd show up and find two or three tables with flea-market type items, a bunch of Avon ladies, and some limp looking strawberries for sale. Color me pleasantly surprised!

Two dozen tables, all local growers, selling items they had just picked -- I came home with lettuce and spinach (the spinach had been gathered just two hours earlier by a young lady who was celebrating her seventh birthday this weekend ), giant stalks of garlic including a complimentary piece of scape, a bundle of asparagus, and a sack of small red potatoes, as well as two dozen fresh eggs. Total shelled out? About $12, and then we also bought a chewy hoof for the dog.

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And so May winds down...

Spent the morning working in the vegetable garden -- fortunately, not much weeding was needed because of the layers of newspaper underneath the topsoil. The beans have sprouted and will need to be trellised soon, as will the cucumbers. Strawberries are looking good, although there's been one minor casualty - Brisco decided to take a nap in the sunny patch, and so one of the strawberry plants is a bit squashy looking, from being underneath the dog's rear end. It may survive, this remains to be seen. The corn is looking healthy and green, no losses yet, and I'm hoping that the old adage about "knee high by the 4th of July" holds true -- at the rate it's going, it might well be knee high by mid-June.
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Of fences and patios and such

So we spent the entire weekend doing manual labor out in the sun. It all began when I started to hate the fence at the end of the driveway. It's a 30-odd foot length of ugly-ass paneling with that cheap prefabricated latticework along the top. The fence has been in bad shape since we moved in six years ago, and has gotten progressively worse. Bad enough that it was ugly, but even worse, we couldn't open the gate between the driveway and the back yard, because of the fence's gradual collapse.

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In Touch Magazine Has Teh Stoopid

In Touch magazine, which sits right by the front door at Barnes and Noble just released their fully obnoxious "Best Beach Bodies" issue for the summer. In this, they trash female celebrities like Lindsay Lohan for being too thin, Uma Thurman for having naturally sagging boobs, and Kate Hudson for "flaunting" her curves. In other words, if you're a chick, you're pretty much damned if you do, damned if you don't.
On the dude side of the spectrum, Harry Connick Jr. and Jack Black are poked fun at for their portly physiques, but I guarantee you no one will ever tell either of them that they can't find work until they drop some weight. Hell, look at some of last year's photos of my boyfriend Russell Crowe -- he gained a good thirty or more pounds, and he's still been tapped to play Robin Hood ( a side note, here -- Russell could gain all the weight he wants, he's still on the top of my list, at any size. Mrow.).

The only thing about In Touch that makes me not want to set it on fire is that they named Hugh Jackman as having one of the "best beach bodies" this year. Now, having seen Wolverine once, and planning to lick the cover of the DVD box as many times as I can, I can say without a doubt that this was indeed a wise choice. Note to producers of the next Wolverine movie: we can haz more naked wet claw time, please? But Jackman, like Crowe and all those other guys who get a shitload of money for every movie, can change their appearance all the time and still work. Women who gain weight get stuck as the "funny friend" or the "depressed fat girl" in movies. Just once I'd like to see a movie with Janeane Garafolo or Margaret Cho or Camryn Manheim as the female lead in a film where she ends up with some hottie like Hugh Jackman. Even guys like Jack Black end up with hot chicks in the movies, because we all know skinny girls love funny chunky dudes - why do you think Seth Rogan is getting all Teh Ladiez?

What us girls really want

Yes, apparently our delicate minds are too fragile to do really hard thingies on the computer like write manuscripts, edit HTML code, play WOW or reprogram our husband's display so that the screen is upside down when he logs on (happy birthday, dear). All those things like logic and communication are just icky, or at least, that's what the folks at Dell think.

Now, if you're a girl, you don't have to have one of those complicated ol' BOY computers! No, you get yourvery own DELLA, which has programs on it that let you make grocery lists, plan your yoga workout, and count your calories. Yay! What fun!

Oh, and the promotional blurb points out in the very first sentence how CUTE they are! Because I don't give a shit if my laptop is portable, has an assload of memory and a kick-ass video enhancer. No, I want it to be cute, with sparkles and puppies and unicorns or babies sitting in flowerpots. I wonder if the Guys Edition will be called XTREME DELLZ and have automated porn updates and a Fantasy Football app. Oh, wait, no, because guys don't have to get stereotyped -- Teh Menfolx unnerstand them thar compooters!

Worst marketing plan EVER, Dell people. Jesus. It's like when Mattel came out with that Barbie doll that talked, and all it said was "Math is hard!" and "Let's go shopping!"

Dear Dell Marketing Department -
You've just reduced 51% of the population to a stereotype, so you can fucking bite me.

Why Gardens are Good

Spent the weekend prepping the beds for planting over the next few days. I've got my beans and tomatoes started, and this year (per Breanna's request) we're going to try a small patch of corn. I'm moving the tomatoes to a new bed this year, since the last two years the soil on the east fence was sort of "meh" for the tomatoes. Everything else seems to like growing over there, so I've added a bit of dried blood to the soil for extra nutrients. This years' spread will include: tomatoes, beans, onions, three different kinds of peppers, corn, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, more onions, arugula and red lettuce, strawberries, and sunflowers. I'm also counting on a few renegade squash vines to surface as they always do -- I refuse to buy plants because I'm the only one in the family who actually eats squash, but I'm happy to devour any noms that volunteer on their own.

As it was Mothers' Day, I got my annual gift of two yards of dirt (that's two truckloads, for you non-gardeny types), with a third promised today for the middle of the week. Also, Dave and Zac are building me a compost bin, which I've been asking for, and Breanna is officially in charge of making sure we fill every single container with some sort of flower or edible item. She's been diagramming and making sketches, filling in and crossing out. She mapped the herb garden out for me, after I moved the giant sage plant from the north corner to the herb circle (plans for expanding the patio would infringe on the sage's existing spot, so I figured I better move it now before it gets bigger). The herb garden this year will have sage, basil (lots of pesto! yum!), oregano, chives, mint (yes, in a pot), rosemary, parsley and the stray bits of fennel that are already peeking up through the dirt.

So this kept us all busy, and the kids were fascinated by the concept of laying down newspaper under the dirt we brought in, and I had to explain that whole "keeps the weeds away and then biodegrades" bit to them, and much fun was had in spraying the newspapers to get them good and wet. A side note: if you are like me and you don't actually GET the newspaper, be prepared for some odd looks when you go to retrieve a batch OUT of the recycling bin). Lots of work was done, even put Cait and her boyfriend to shoveling loads of soil, as well as mowing. The grand thing about all of this was that it kept my mind off of Tanner, and I did pretty well. When I sat down for dinner, though, I looked at his spot by the fence and burst into tears. This too shall pass, but I don't have to like it. Working on the yard kept me from thinking about it, at least for a little while, and let me focus on the bringing of new life into the soil, rather than the loss of it.

Today I went to the greenhouse to look at trees -- we're going to plant a Tanner Tree back by the fence, although I'm thinking a nice shade bush like a rhodedendron might be better. Zac's buddy Sam brought us a sympathy card and a memorial stone with a pawprint, so we can put it under our Tanner Tree when we get it in  place. It's little things like that which remind us how fortunate we are, in that we have so many people who care about us.