11–20 of 20 entries from the month of: June 2013

Gardening NJ, II

June 13th

The second bed is in, and the first bed is going wild:

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

Grow, little tomatoes — grow!

The second bed is fairly uneven. I’m hoping the newspapers and other old carbons I put under the cardboard will help. Otherwise, I’ll watch the watering in the lower area.

Gardeners — any creative ideas in lieu of using a cage? I need to get something in place in the next week in bed #1. I have done teepees in the past for tomatoes, but it becomes a mess and can make reaching the tomatoes difficult. Other ideas? I may just buy more of that trellising, although each one is $7. The upside: I can fold them flat and move them with us, rather than throwing away money on round wire tomato cages, which are nearly impossible to move.

I’d love to hear your ideas.

~K

Posted in
Flora and Fauna, Happy Hippie, NJ + NYC
Comments (8)

Mexican Chocolate Cake

June 11th

Mexican Cake

Mexican Cake

Mexican Cake

Easy peasy recipe if you have house guests and need a quick no-frosting cake:

Take one chocolate cake mix (I like Betty Crocker triple fudge)

Add 3 eggs, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of cayenne, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of cardamom, 1/2 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of water. Mix thoroughly. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes in a well greased bundt pan. Serve with ice cream, or alone. Watch guests inhale.

This cake is slightly spicy, earthy and incredibly moist. It is absolutely delicious and a super simple answer when entertaining.

-K

Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade, Recipes
Comments (3)

Gardening NJ

June 11th

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

A friend on Facebook made the point that New Jersey has issues with heavy metal. No, not Bon Jovi, but harmful waste in the soil. When I planted a vegetable garden several couple weeks ago — I went the lasagna route. Cardboard, newspapers and other carbons, added with compost and organic top soil. I’m watering top down and these plants are going nuts. It helps that it rains here all the time.

Gardening NJ

I might have repurposed a few building materials as seen above from other areas of the property. As you can tell, most were buried under heaps of pine needles and I highly doubt if they will be missed by anyone other than the roly poly bugs who called them home.

Additionally, I wanted to start some seedlings to transplant. I’ve never had any luck with transplants, so who knows how this is going to go.

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

I very well may be too late in the season to be putting them in, but I am going to try.

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

Gardening NJ

It has been a lot of fun to have these little babies going on the kitchen windowsill. I will plant herbs this way in the future. Today, these will be transplanted into an garden extension, including a trellis for those green beans from Finny.  More importantly, I am now studying seed saving and will hopefully have seeds to share and save for next year’s garden too.

I may just pick up some basil seed to start this project again.

~K

 

Posted in
Flora and Fauna, NJ + NYC
Comments (6)

Barefoot in NYC

June 10th

Yesterday, I stood on Pier 66 in Manhattan in shorts and bare feet.

Kayaking the Hudson River

And it. was. awesome.

Kayaking the Hudson River

Some friends from Arizona are in town this week and they found a Groupon* for kayaking the Hudson. Along the edges of the pier, trash bobs in the waves. A corporate helipad sits just a few hundred feet north of the pier, making constant ripples and loud whipping noises as profiteers come and go. Folks enjoying a warm, gorgeous Sunday funday afternoon hooted and hollered from the Frying Pan — a bar on the next pier over.

Kayaking the Hudson River

Kayaking the Hudson River

Kayaking the Hudson River

D looked at the trash and then at me and swallowed hard. “Are we up to date with our vaccines?” He smiled. I laughed, throwing on my huge sun hat and smacked his paddle with mine.

“Come on! This is going to be a blast.” It had been years since I’d kayaked last, but I remember it being a killer workout and a great way to see the landscape.

Kayaking the Hudson River

After a brief introductory to the equipment, we slid into our single kayaks and headed out into the brown water.

Kayaking the Hudson River

Some 45 minutes of paddling later, I could barely pull myself back up on the pier. We caught the tide heading south toward the State of Liberty, which meant we fought our way home. The water was cooling as it dribbled down from our paddles on to our warm legs. It was also a beautiful dark blue once you got past the murkiness on the shore. We were all screaming and having the a great time until we realized we’d outlasted our welcome. I couldn’t physically paddle any more, but I didn’t want it to be done.

Kayaking the Hudson River

A kayak just may be the way to see the island that never sleeps. I’d love to see if I could maneuver around the entire thing. We plan to ride our bikes around the entire island at some point this summer with another friend. There is something so much more enjoyable about discovering a new place when it is done outside of the confines of public transport, or a cramped Civic. When the four of us got back to my little car, we were all exhausted. It was 7 pm on Sunday and we’d all traveled, worked and reached the end of our weekend to-do list. We climbed in and prepared to make the typical 45 minute drive home, where dinner was bubbling away in the Crockpot.

Kayaking the Hudson River

A little more than an hour later, our car had barely budged. We had unknowingly driven into the middle of this 100,000-plus person demonstration. When we finally did get around the countless school busses full of Hasidic Jews and their male children, we could barely think. It took more than two hours to get home. God bless Mr. Crockpot for his technology; dinner was still ready regardless of our late arrival.

Kayaking the Hudson River

Regardless of the crazy traffic, I cannot wait to go again. Manhattan Kayak actually rents space by the month. I may just buy one of these babies. There are several spots nearby on rivers near our home that offer hourly rates for canoes and kayaks. I may just sign us up again this weekend. I’m wondering if I can get Nelson interested in going along too. He would look pretty cute at the front of a boat.

-K

*Groupon might be the best way to get to know a new place. Signing up for the “adventure” section gets you out of the house doing crazy fun things for just a few dollars, while the food category can quickly help you find the best mom and pop spots in town.

 

 

 

Posted in
NJ + NYC
Comments (11)

Books: A Year of Biblical Womanhood

June 8th

Reading

I recently finished Rachel Held Evan’s “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.” I was unfamiliar with Evans, or her popular blog on Christianity, until my friend Sarah and her husband Matt visited Colorado last summer. They mentioned Evans as a voice for contemporary Christian thought — not shy of her evangelical roots, but also seeking understanding in a loving way. And as a woman, catching heaps of flack for her voice.

This book is not tongue in cheek. She chronicles a year of living up to being a “Biblical woman.” Prior to reading this, I didn’t know such terminology existed. Sure, I’d read Proverbs 31. I’d heard the few stories of the strong women in the Bible repeated over again and again. But I did not know there was a Bible-based conservative movement defining the role of women. Namely, that women should be submissive, quiet, in the home, and working to keep their husbands happy. If these women were unable to bear children, it is a great failure and sin.

My faith does not fit this mold. Granted, my grandmother and my mother were both stay at home moms. They did work to keep their husbands happy. They were responsible for the bulk of the household duties. But they were never submissive, quiet, or without their 50% share of any family vote. My grandmother and mother fit the notion of a Proverbs 31 woman: they often rose before dawn, worked in gardens, helped to feed the needy and work with the poor, etc. And they did this with a smile because happiness and joy came from their families and from their relationships with God. However, I never heard once in my life that this would be my expected role in life. My brother and I were fairly given our share of chores. He knows how to wash a dish as well as I know how to mow a lawn; gender was never taken into consideration when it came to getting the work done.

Evan’s is not shy about having grown up as an evangelical, or of being scared to have children. She is happily in love with her husband — who is not into submission. In fact, the month she has to call him “master” completely (and I would say rightly) freaks him out.

There are times of life when a book keeps crossing your path. I’d heard of Evan’s latest for a while, but it wasn’t until I was playing house girlfriend in New Jersey that I read page 1. As we figure out house hold responsibilities, talk about careers and priorities and try to sketch out a plan for the future — I was reading about varied stories of women in the Bible who did all this too — some with happier outcomes than others.

I so appreciate Evan’s bravery; there is a strong wave of hatred for her work online that I cannot understand, other than it is threatening to those who have their wives under some sort of trance to behave or else be damned. She writes each chapter with a great balance of humor and Biblical understanding, and I dogeared too many pages to share. (I think the chapter where she learns to sew and knit are my favorite. Or maybe when she bakes pies that bleed butter. The woman is a solid writer and a mediocre crafter, which provides lots of comedic fodder.)

As a woman and a Christian trying to figure out my place in this world spiritually — this book was the perfect read. And a great reminder Jesus surrounded himself with strong-willed, bold women who loved God and never gave up on Him. In fact, they were the ones to discover He’d risen.

Review: five out of five bananas

-K

Posted in
Faith, Media
Comments (6)

In Bloom

June 6th

A walk through our neighborhood this week:

June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

~K

Posted in
Flora and Fauna, NJ + NYC
Comments (4)

One Community

June 5th

one community
One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and community with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

This month’s four words are: door, yellow, breakfast and sweetness.

Door:

A few of the interesting “doors” in our new neighborhood:

One Community

One Community

One Community

One Community

Yellow:

Fields of flowers in bloom on the Appalachian Trail.

One Community

Breakfast:

I love being able to start the day with French press coffee. With a lot of milk, that’s all I need until midday. While waiting for the coffee, I scramble a couple eggs and whatever protein is left over from dinner for a burrito. I wrap this in tin foil and have it ready for D to grab on his way to work. (Cherries not included.)

One Community

Sweetness:

Baking for friends. I love the house to smell of cinnamon and all spice. I love the way brown sugar melts into a puddle of deliciousness with butter when whipping up banana bread. This week I baked a few small thank you loaves and made cupcakes for house guests staying with us while working in the area. No time for breakfast in the morning? Fine. Grab a couple of these and a cup of coffee to go and you won’t be cranky at 10 am, tapping your toe waiting for a lunch break.

One Community

Other One Community participants:

Sarah is a life-long Missourian who shares her home with her husband, one (soon to be 2) son(s), and an old grumpy dachshund. Like every good Midwesterner, she can (and will) talk to you at length about the weather.  Sarah blogs at www.beautyschooldropout.net.

Colleen lives with her handsome hubster and two feisty felines in Portland, Oregon. She loves rain and sun (in that order), words and pictures, and chatting up the neighbors. She blogs at:www.underaredroof.com

Rebekah lives in Kilkenny, Ireland with her husband. An American by birth, she’s discovering what it means to be an expat on the Emerald Isle. She blogs at Honeysuckle Life.

Kara is a cheerful nerd living in downtown Phoenix, AZ with her law-studying husband and an anxious pound puppy. She works full time in the mental health field but in her off time enjoys sunshine, great food and the occasional craft beer.  www.sunshine-cupcakes.com

Stephanie from Wyoming.  Her blog is www.nowicanseethemoon.com

(If you are interested in participating, shoot me an email: africankelli@gmail.com)

Posted in
Community, Media, Photography
Comments (5)

Repurposed

June 3rd

Sometimes it works...

Sometimes it works...

Sometimes it works...

Sometimes it works...

It is lovely to be able to go into the garden to trim a bouquet for flowers around the house. Also, it gives me a smug sense of satisfaction to be able to use something I already had in a different way, and add color to our home for no expense. With any luck, I’ll get some lavender and bulbs planted so we have lots of flowers next spring too.

-K

Posted in
Domestic Art, Reuse, Style
Comments (0)

Blood Sucking Parasites

June 2nd

I am watching my budget with more scrutiny while between jobs. I love being frugal — no surprise to friends, family or long-time readers. I am treating this time of life like a game: how rich can my life be without spending money?

NJ Appalachian Trail Hike

The answer — very. However, this weekend was a hilarious series of expensive missteps. With a little Internet research, I discovered the Appalachian Trail just 50 miles from our home. With a bit more digging, I found a free place to park in the Delaware Water Gap. Score! Since reading Bill Bryson, I’ve wanted to hike a bit of the AT. I’d pack a backpack, grab Nelson’s leash, and we’d made a day of it. The gas for a 100 miles is about $12 — totally manageable for a day’s adventure. (Cheaper than a movie or taking a gander through Target, by far.)

NJ Appalachian Trail Hike

Among other aspects I didn’t consider was the humidity. The trail was wet in some places and the air was sticky. We hiked 1.5 hours along a ridge line when Nelson found some shade and curled up. We had some water and a snack and I realized we needed to turn around.

NJ Appalachian Trail Hike

The walk was gorgeous. The cicadas are out and humming like mad. The birds were chirping. Flowers were in bloom. The smell of a New Jersey forest is entirely different than the Rockies — less pine and aspen, more birch. It was peaceful, and we only saw a few hikers who were all friendly.

NJ Appalachian Trail Hike

NJ Appalachian Trail Hike

NJ Appalachian Trail Hike

Neither of us are used to the humidity. My clothes were totally drenched by the time we made it back to the car seemingly unscathed. At some point during the drive home, I realized Nelson was acting strangely. He couldn’t get settled on the back seat and kept nipping at his sides. This wasn’t like him; after a good hike, he is quick to turn in circles three times before napping like a champ. Driving down a major highway it was hard to tell what was happening with him in the back seat … until I saw something jump off of him.

NJ Appalachian Trail Hike

He was covered in ticks. Then I looked down at my legs, wearing 3/4 length yoga pants and realized I had several on me too. I drove home as quickly as possible, kept him in the front yard, went inside for his grooming scissors and proceeded to spend another hour outside slowly cutting some 200+ ticks out of his hair and carefully wiggling out those that had made it to his skin. He was in agony — both annoyed with me messing with him, and with all of these tiny creatures crawling all over him.

I, in turn, was breathing deeply and really trying not to wave my hands toward the heavens and scream obscenities. I’d seen a tick before when a found one on my stomach after hiking through rain forest in Nicaragua. But this was unreal. I couldn’t get them off of him fast enough. And as I would find them, they would bury into him, making him welp. (It didn’t help that at one point I skimmed him with the scissors.) My hands were shaking and I had sweat pouring into my face.

A trip to the pet store later, I’d cleaned the house and given him a tick/flea bath. He is already on tick medication, but there were so many — I was concerned. As I bathed him, I watched more and more dark ticks come to the surface of his blond hair. I rinsed him carefully and let him air dry on the patio.

NJ Appalachian Trail Hike

You haven’t really lived until you’ve carefully taken off all of your clothes and examined every crease and crack of your body for ticks. Even more so when you find them and try desperately to keep your cool and get them off of you. After I showered, and complained loudly to friends on Facebook about the experience, the reaction was binary:

All of my friends west of the Mississippi responded: “OH MY GOD. THAT IS THE WORST EVER.”

Eastern friends, by contrast: “Meh, ticks. That’s life out east. Welcome!” Several emailed me their strategies for hiking with their dogs when they know ticks are present and how to guard yourself. I wish I’d known before starting this adventure.

Last night, I flipped him on his back and carefully went through each of his toes. I found another 15, happily sucking away at him. He seemed to sigh with relief when I finally let him rest.

This morning while getting ready for church, I found a rather full little sucker stuck to my scalp. Lyme disease was recorded in 3800 people in the state of New Jersey last year; God knows how many dogs are hobbling around with the painful chronic illness because they weren’t treated. It is a bacterial infection that if it isn’t treated quickly, can become a life-long, crippling disease.

I’m starting a round of antibiotics this afternoon; I wasn’t going to bother until a friend in Maryland called this morning to say she has several friends with Lyme and it isn’t something to mess around with. Thankfully, a friend of ours was able to call in a prescription. Nelson goes to the vet tomorrow.

The morale to this story? When it doubt, just go to Target.

~K

Posted in
NJ + NYC
Comments (18)

A Swing and a Miss

June 1st

Sometimes my crafts go horribly wrong. This could be directly related to my lack of interest in precision, paired nicely with having a short fuse.

Example 1:

Sometimes it works...

An adorable poster D bought for me as a housewarming gift.

Colorado? Cycling? WPA-era inspired style?

Win, win, win.

I love it!

Sometimes it works...

Trying to find a frame and mat for it that would work? Torture. I tried framing this sucker twice with different mats and fabrics. The end result was lots of swears and a bloody finger. Plus, I pretty much ruined the frame with a slip of the screwdriver, which stabbed my finger.

Solution:

Sometimes it works...

Simplicity.

And deep breaths.

The frame went out in the recycling, and I do say it looks rather sweet right there next to my other WPA print. 

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art
Comments (1)