Archive for June, 2013

Just plain pretty! Enjoy


Ever since I (Sincerely, Emily) planted larkspur and poppies, they come up in new and different sports around the gardens each year. They surprised me and came up in the vegetable garden 2 seasons ago, and each year some self-seed before I take them out. It is hard to take them out when they are still blooming (the butterflies thank me). So more come up each year. They are pretty!

volunteer larkspur***

My (Alexandra) garden is about to peak. I do a garden party every year and try to judge just when it will hit. I might be a little early this year, but when everything hits that bloom-moment together, pretty just doesn’t say enough.


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Summer has been here for a while now in South Texas. Our heat index has been above 100F all week and the vegetable garden is sure showing signs of stress. Heck, I am showing signs of stress and I wilt at the mire thought of stepping outside.

Tomatoes - not looking good 6-2013The heat and humidity that we have been experiencing has really set me back with my recovery and my over all breathing. I am still doing well. Going to physical therapy 2-3 times a week. But three weeks ago when our temps started staying in the high 90’s I could barely get through a physical therapy session. We took out all the weights and resistant bands and I just went through the motions and even that was a struggle, so I can understand how those tomato plants must be feeling out there.

Dilled tomatoes 1The cherry tomatoes plants that my mom planted when she was here in early March have seen better days. They certainly aren’t going to win a beauty contest. Little by little their leaves are drying out and dieing. In the end of July we have our second planting for tomatoes, so on Friday I took some cuttings from the plants and potted them up to get them ready for planting in about month of so.

These cherry tomato plants are still FULL of green cherry tomatoes. Full! Most of them would probably not survive long enough to even start to blush. Besides the heat, I have the birds out there to compete with. They have been out there peeking away. First they started with the ones that started to blush, now they just seem to be peeking anything.

Dilled tomoates 2What to do with all those green cherry tomatoes? Well, I filed away an idea that I saw over Nancy post about over at Homesteading in Maine. Dilled Green Cherry Tomatoes! Luckily my brain was working a few days ago and I started picking all the green cherry tomatoes because I was on a mission.

I ended up with 2 quarts, 4 pints and 2 1/2 pints all heading to the refrigerator to sit for four weeks to develop their flavor.  I can’t wait to try them. To me, this is a great way to make use of something that probably wouldn’t make it to maturity and harvest. Instead of ending up in the compost tumbler, it ended up in the refrigerator. my other option was to make green tomato chutney, but I just didn’t have the energy. If some of the tomato plants start looking terrible, I will conjure up the energy and give the green tomato chutney a try. I know I would love it.

What would you do with an abundance of green tomatoes?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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1. Move to a farm, so there are actually things to do at 5 a.m.

2. Check the garden to see what the rabbits destroyed overnight.

3. Check the weather report at 5 or 6 different sites, to see if they agree.

4. Depending on your mood, believe either the worst or the best of them.

5. Try to go back to bed.

6. See if you can identify how many robins are currently singing.

7. Get up and wander around looking for something to do.

8. Realize if you were a slightly better person you’d wash the dishes you left in the sink last night.

9. Admit that if you were a much better person, you wouldn’t have left the dishes in the sink last night.

10. Discover that early morning talk radio is even more awful than midday talk radio.

11. Go back to bed

12. And NPR’s not much better.

13. Decide that the basement is still too creepy at this hour to go and fold the laundry.

14. Absolutely, positively DO NOT CHECK YOUR EMAIL, for pity’s sake, you are pathetic.

15. Check your email

16. Realize that if you brush your teeth, it means you’re not going back to bed.

17. Brush your teeth.

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Look up!    Sky


I (Sincerely, Emily) dug back into my photos to find some good sky photos.

Sudeley Castle July 2012

Sudeley Castle July 2012 (England)

SAS Shoe Factory - San Antonio, Texas

SAS Shoe Factory – San Antonio, Texas

This is more typical of our summer sky’s. Clear, Blue and full of heat!


I (Alexandra) grew up in Philadelphia, where I didn’t really think about the sky. Between the hills, the trees, and the buildings, you couldn’t really see it. Moving to the prairie in my early teens felt like coming home. When living in the mountains in college, I missed the sky more than anything else. I think it’s why I need to live by the lake.

Prairie sky

Lake sky


What does the sky mean to you?



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I have invited and openly welcomed quite a few weeds into our yard over the past 5 years. A few of my friends shake their heads and can’t quite figure out why I would get so excited about weeds. You know, things like dandelions (taraxacum officinale) and lambsquarter (chenopodium album), or plantain (Plantago major) and purslane (Portulaca oleracea), and those are just a few of the edible and useable weeds I get excited about growing on purpose.



Then there is straggler daisy (calyptocarpus vialis). I did a post on it over on my personal blog this past week. There are a lot of mixed reviews on it in my area. Some LOVE it, others absolutely HATE it. That is one weed I wasn’t sure about when we moved here, but then again, it was spreading all through every garden and choking out other things. Once I got it out of the garden areas and started planting the herbs and natives I wanted I was much happier. It took a lot of work to get it out of the places I didn’t want it, but I do like it in my yard. It is a great ground cover.

Straggler Daisy

Straggler Daisy

One weed we struggle with is the Coastal Sandspur (Cenchrus spinifex Cav.) That is one weed I could do without completely.

Sandspur 1Some of the other “weeds” that make up our yard I have spent some time identifying… others, I have not taken the time to figure out yet.

An assortment of "weeds"

An assortment of “weeds” – lambsquarter, henbit, larkspur, thistle and poppy

It is always interesting to see what pops up each year. It is amazing how much it can vary. One year we may have a particularly pesky weed and some very pretty flowering ones and the year after there are new things out there.

Some years I have to pick my battles with things I really don’t want out there. I haven’t come up with a great way to get rid of the coastal sandspurs, other than hand digging them.

Where do you draw the line? What weeds do you embrace?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Things he now has to do for himself:

Make the bed

Wash the dishes

Write a budget

Call friends

Pay taxes

Balance the checkbook

Go grocery shopping




Find a plumber (and an electrician)

Plan entertainment

Water the plants

What would you hate having to learn how to do, or do without, if the housekeeper your spouse wasn’t around anymore?

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Easterners, are you sick of all the rain yet? Just remember last year, when we went 4 months without a drop.


Here in Chicago I (Xan) actually couldn’t ask for a better rain schedule– it’s been a reliable 1-2 inches per week since mid April. I’ve barely had to water at all. Now if we could just get some warmth…



Down here is South Texas we are seeing more rain than we have in years. Some areas to the west and South of San Antonio really got dumped on again Thursday and Friday…. all of it has managed to miss my yard (Sincerely, Emily.)

On May 24th & 25th we managed to get over 10″ – that is a lot of water….

Nope, not going to get out of the neighborhood that way.

Nope, not going to get out of the neighborhood that way.

We were unable to get out of our neighborhood for a while. we didn’t “need” to get anywhere, so that was fine.

No way out here either!

No way out here either!

Things are dry here in our yard, so I have been back to watering. Storms keep popping up all around us, they just dissipate over our house (it seems) then build back up and continue on… I am glad someone is getting the rain in our area.


Are some of you doing rain dances to bring the rain in or send it away?

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