Thursday, July 20, 2017

Asian Market shopping and cooking. . . . . . . .

On a hunt for foods to serve on these very hot days, I remembered I needed
 rice paper wrappers to make Asian summer rolls. I use veggies (lettuce, carrots,
 radishes, cucumbers, fresh mint and basil leaves) and shrimp.
 A peanut dipping sauce is really good served alongside.
Our favorite fresh rolls are always part of the meal at our local Thai restaurant.
 Instruction on how to make them at home was given to me by my
 Vietnamese manicurist as these rolls are actually a Vietnamese delicacy.
  Always delicious. . . . . . light, cool and nutritious on a hot day.

Last night's supper - Summer rolls with shrimp, peanut sauce and chili-lime almonds.

A stop at the Asian Market this week. . . . . . 
. . . . . . . a place of wonder, plus colorful photo opportunities!
The owner is Thai and very helpful when people like me keep
 picking up, pointing, or asking, "what's this, what do you do with that, 
how do I cook this" etc?

I asked if I could take photos with my iPhone as I didn't have a camera
 with me - he smiled and said, "go ahead take many."

Rows of shelves were groaning under the weight of thousands of items.
I had no idea as to what most were let alone how to cook them
into tasty and fragrant Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese etc. dishes.
Freezers were stuffed with plastic bags hiding shapes I didn't even wish
 to know about. . . . . but the fresh produce was interesting.

My favorites were the fruits and vegetables not usually found in
the regular grocery chains.

These are dragon fruit, a type of cactus - talk about colorful!
Since coming home and reading about them I think I'll go back soon 
and buy a couple. They are great to add to a fruit salad, nutritious,
 low calorie, and so pretty when cut open.  Their flavor resembles a cross
 between a kiwifruit and a pear. Have you ever tried one?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

More golden faces. . . . . .

. . . . . .while on the subject of sunflowers (please forgive me if all this is a bit
 repetitious) I just have to show you how they look today, the first one is fully
 opened and the bees, both big and small, seem to be in heaven collecting
 pollen off those hundreds of what will become seeds.  

Oh how we all - humans and animals - seem to love sunflower seeds!

. . . . . . and look at this!  Had no idea until I looked at the photo on the
 computer - a small bee zooming directly in for a landing, wheels legs down,
 feast ahead!

More buds opening soon!
Now I'm wishing I'd planted many more.

Honey bee and bumble bee sharing a meal. . . . . . . . . so beautiful!

Thank you for your kind comments on the previous 'sunflower post' - hope you
enjoy these additional photos also.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sunflowers are blooming. . . . . . . . . .

Back in early June I planted a packet of sunflower seeds along the low brick wall
 in the front garden in hopes they'd take root and grow before the squirrels found
 them and dug them up!  I've been watching them carefully, fascinated by their 
healthy growth, reminding Bob not to mow over them, and watering them when
there's been no rain and the temperatures have climbed into the 90's.

Just a few days ago the sunflowers were still in bud - the heavy rain from the 
thunderstorm on Thursday evening brought renewal to the garden. 
Funny how rain does such a better job than the garden hoses. How precious
is water falling from those huge clouds billowing across the skies.

Of course they are facing east, toward the rising sun, away from the cottage.
Each morning I pop over and take their picture from my neighbor's side of
 the wall - the same wall I cross to go care for the neighbor's cat Ms. Nala.
Just today and tomorrow remaining as our neighbor returns in the evening.

So, hanging out the 'sunflower flag' this week seems appropriate.
 The gold and green colors of the huge flowers are beautiful and already
 I'm picking other spots where I plan to try growing sunflowers next summer. 
 They will provide late summer food for the birds. . . . . . . . . . oh yes, perhaps
 the squirrels also!

Wishing you all a wonderful summer weekend.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Up to no good as usual . . . . . . . .

Whilst on a mission to take bird photos in the back garden recently there were,
 as always, bushy-tailed interlopers practicing gymnastics. . . . .and these two playing
 peek-a-boo on a tree. I swear squirrels smile - don't you see them doing that here,
 with a glint in those beady eyes?

Of course they too were after the birdseed - they eat more than the sweet 
birds - but we keep filling the feeders out of the goodness of our hearts, 
for the love of nature, and the entertainment they provide while we're 
enjoying a cool summer supper, or just sipping a couple of refreshing
chilled drinks, in the screened gazebo.

Right now the temperatures have soared even higher - today the heat 
index will be 106F and this will continue throughout the coming weekend.
If I was in a fur coat I would not be chasing or playing with anything -
I'd be skinny dipping in the birdbaths!

"Thanks for the snack Mr. or Mrs. Homeowner". We cleaned out the suet 
feeder BTW - any chance of a refill?"

"Cool birdbaths you say - I'm headed for a dip right now!"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . . . . . . . Dot and line

. . . . . . . .be creative with a black dot and a straight line!

Oh gosh, for a non-artist like me today's challenge 'thrown out' by our
 creative host Michael was really difficult. I searched through many, and
 I mean MANY, of my own photos and couldn't come up with anything to turn
 into a meaningful sketch. I was about give up and then thought
 'stick figure' - anyone can turn one into something made up of a black dot
 and a straight line.

My husband loves baseball. Each Summer he returns to his home town
to meet up with his brother for baseball and beers for a few days.
He'll be off to lovely cooler, greener, New Hampshire next week, enjoying
brotherly pursuits . . . . .and I'll be happy knowing he's happy. . . . . and I 
don't have to cook dinner for a few unbearable hot nights. 
Wine and cheese anyone!

SCRIBBLE PICNIC continues to bring out the best in our 
wonderful artists - do go visit Michael's blog today and see what
they've come up with.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Birds and their offspring. . . . . . . .

The garden has been exceptionally busy these past few weeks - many new
 family members now learning the ropes regarding eating, bathing and doing
whatever parent birds teach their youngsters. We keep the feeders filled - not cheap
 by any means - however we love our birds. The birdbaths are cleaned and refilled for both
 the birds and squirrels during this hot weather, and to get rid of pesky mosquitoes.

Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinenis

Handsome slate-gray bird with black crown and long, thin black bill. 
Often seen with tail lifted exposing a chestnut-colored patch, 
just visible here.

This young catbird is busy learning its way around my garden with
 a parent (male and female have same appearance) close at hand
 on the suet feeder.

A secretive bird, the catbird was named 'Bird That Cries With Grief' by
 the Chippewa Indians due to its raspy call.

Brown Thrasher - Toxostoma rufum

A baby Brown thrasher perched on a birdbath considering a drink or
 a dip perhaps. . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . . while one parent watches from the bench. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . and the other checks out the food supply!

Again, male and female are identical, a little larger than the American robin,
 with streaked breast, rusty coloring, and yellow eyes. The male has the largest
 documented song repertoire of all North American birds with over 1,100 song types.
This pair have either two or three youngsters - lovely to watch them interact.

I actually parked myself in a chair - with a camera of course - on the back deck
 for a while yesterday morning to watch the busy birds and squirrels.
Guess what? Cute squirrel photos coming next time!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sicily - Summer Fashions. . . . . . . . .

Seems ages since I did a 'fashion' post.

No, didn't do much shopping at all whilst in Sicily - other than a 
useful lemon squeezer - oh my, the Sicilian lemons are the world's best -
and definitely no clothes or shoes this time, bags were already overstuffed 
for the cruise, and this time orders were, "we are not buying another suitcase to
get things home." 
However I still enjoyed looking, and window shopping, and as you probably
 know, I love taking photos of shop windows. Just something really interesting 
 about reflections. . . . . . .and the mannequins are amazing these days.

Being in Italy and NOT buying shoes was hard!  While in Siracusa, I really was
 interested in these handmade sandals in gorgeous black and silver leather,
170.00 euros was just a bit much for sandals! I passed them up - and I kick
 myself daily on these 98F melting days and wish I had them - so different from
 anything I've seen around here.

via Anthropologie

But I do have these pants!  Not from Italy, from Anthropologie, and they 
are my best summertime buy this year!  I could live in these pants, and almost do,
 as they are so comfortable, a bit baggy, lightweight and cool, and despite wrinkling
 as linen does, having the fine stripe seems to mask creases really well. I throw 
them in the washer and dryer and put them back on. They fall just above the ankle
 or can be rolled twice to make them cropped at a good length (I'm quite tall - 5'8"), 
and can be dressed up or down with different tops and accessories.
If you bump into me any day this summer don't be surprised if I'm
wearing these pants!

Here I'm in the car heading west - yes, I even did that recent road trip to the
 North Carolina mountains wearing these comfortable pants.

Did you find something to wear this summer which you are really enjoying?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sicily - Siracusa

May 11, 2017 - 7 AM - Island Sky docked at her berth at Siracusa (Syracuse). 
This was our last port of call in Sicily.

The approach to the city was somewhat murky that morning, however 
the closer we got the deeper the colors became. . . . . . .soon the details of
 the ancient ochre buildings became clear, beautiful and welcoming.

Our ship, Noble Caledonia's Island Sky, moving in toward her berth at 
the Syracuse waterfront - aways fun to watch the crew maneuvering a ship alongside
 and, as you can see, we couldn't have been closer to town which was great.

That morning I was really feeling the effects of the 'Euro-bug' which had hit me, 
several other passengers, plus the Island Sky's chef, quite hard.
I'd already croaked for three days with laryngitis, then a burgeoning cough over
 several days had me feeling lousy. 
Not going ashore was out of the question - most likely I would never be here
in Sicily again - so off I went, camera around my neck, bag stuffed with tissues,
Ricolas for my throat, and sunnies to hide my red, watery, no makeup eyes.

Still a few more stories to come from the May Sicily/Malta cruise - such a wonderful
 voyage to new to me places.

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