Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Oh deer!

. . . . . . . . you really shouldn't be eating breakfast here!

As you know, I was invited to harvest my neighbor's veggies whilst he took
 a vacation and I was cat-sitting his sweet Ms. Nala the past couple of weeks. 
 He's home now and still so generous sharing cukes, peppers and tomatoes with me.
 I'm giving back to him by way of a nice chilled bowl of cucumber gazpacho, 
after chopping and whizzing those fresh-picked veggies in the food processor.

She arrived yesterday morning just before 8 AM. The sun was already 
brilliant, the air heavy and steamy from the humidity of another 
typical southern summer day.
Heading to pick up the newspaper on the driveway I made a quick return
 to the house to grab the camera. Yes, the crazy lady in her robe was out in
 the garden again and taking more photos.

She was calm, watched me between nibbles, and when I said "no, you must
 go to another restaurant" she looked at me and slowly walked away to the next
 house down the street. . . . . . where there are no veggies, but they 
do have lovely hostas if deer enjoy munching on them!

I love this photo with the sun shining through the ears and
illuminating the whiskers. I know she (at least I believe it's a female) has
 apparently made a home in the small wooded area across the street, but
 I wonder where her family are - haven't seen a second deer yet. 

Nature never ceases to amaze. 
There's always some animal, bird, insect or reptile (I don't like the latter, 
especially the dangerous copperhead snakes!) visiting the garden, despite
 the fact we are not in the country and just a block off a main thoroughfare
 north of the city.

Have you had any unexpected visitors - from the animal world -
in your garden this summer?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reaching New Heights. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . the smiling faces of the now tall sunflowers continue to face toward the east. 
My beauties, for some reason, don't turn to face the sun as it moves across
 the sky. . . . . . .instead they seem to enjoy the view down the street.

Each scorching day, when there's no rain, I'm out there giving them a
 gentle drink, watching the flowers unfurl, and of course taking photos.
Each one is so beautiful whether with fully opened ray flowers (yellow petals),
 or just peeping out from the bright green bracts. Love how they last so long, 
soaking up the heat and sunshine, preparing their awesome number of seeds
 for the bees now, later the birds. . . . . . .and possibly squirrels agile enough
 to climb and cling to them come autumn. 

I too will be gathering some of the seeds in hopes they will grow here in my
 garden next year. These have reached astounding heights, the tallest
are well over six feet!

Looks like the 'sunflower chronicles' are continuing - I just have to share them with you!
Previous recent posts of the sunflowers in my garden, if you missed them,
 are HERE and HERE.

Yesterday was a tad cooler, 91F, and the heavy rain Sunday evening
really helped the garden. Temperature climbing higher again today!

🌻 Enjoy the sunflowers of summertime 🌻

Monday, July 24, 2017

They love suet feeders. . . . . . . .

I was surprised by this Northern Flicker - perhaps the younger of these two 
guys I viewed a couple of weeks ago HERE.
He waited on the suet feeder in this position for a very long time on Saturday,
 10 minutes or more, only leaving when I eventually opened the back door in hopes
 I could get better photos than these taken through the steamy windows.
Boy was it ever hot out there and the humidity awful!  Maybe he was just resting
in the heat, can't say I blamed him, it was like being in the jungle without the 
screeching monkeys.

Notice how some dastardly night visitor - raccoon perhaps - has already chewed
 up my NEW suet feeder, grrrrrrr!  The woodpeckers love these feeders as they can
balance their weight and size on the tail 'fin'. Other birds come too. . . . . . . many
 love suet and require fat in their diet for energy even in summertime. If you feed
garden birds you should do it year round.

Such a handsome bird. 
I hope your parents showed up and they took you away to a
 cooler spot for the evening hours.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Still much too hot to be out here on the front porch.
104F today!
Even the trumpet vine looks frazzled.

Getting a bit tired of chilly meals so decided a quick oven flatbread wouldn't 
overheat the kitchen too much.
Readymade crust by Stonefire topped with thinly sliced tomatoes and fresh
 mozzarella, topped with a scattering of shredded low-moisture mozzarella,
 salt and pepper - baked for 15 minutes. 

Removed and topped with a garlicky basil and pine nut pesto whizzed in the
 food processor, a few fresh basil leaves, and a dusting of grated parmesan.
It was really, really good, honest!!!!

Storms tonight brought much-needed rainwater to the garden.
Fortunately no damage in this area but the lightning was serious and scary!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A cool Humboldt Fog rolls in. . . . . . . . .

Doing all we can to stay cool here in central North Carolina as the weather continues 
to heat up. End of week became dangerously hot with the actual temperature
 hovering at 100F yesterday and will continue over most of the weekend. 
The heat index will make it feel more like 110F and could be life threatening for
 those who don't take care! 
We know to stay out of the sun, in air conditioned spaces, drink plenty of water, and 
not do stupid things such as mowing lawns, pulling weeds, jogging - or even
 walking far outdoors!

Northern California coast - Trinidad, Humboldt County 2016

I've shared these foggy coastal photos before but couldn't resist displaying
 them again as they are so refreshing on these hot days.

San Carlos, CA wine bar - perfect cheese plate with
 fresh bread, apricots, honey and chutney, and great
 cheese choices.

So what should we eat in 100+ degrees?
Always looking for hot stove alternatives in oppressive, steamy weather.
Salads of course are always good. Chilled soups such as the cucumber gazpacho
 we've enjoyed lately - and luckily I've several pouches in my freezer as I made so
 much last week. . . . . . . . and how about cheese plates! 
I love cheese in any shape or form. When in California last year, wine
tasting also meant cheese tasting, and did we ever get some fabulous 
offerings both at wineries and restaurants!

High end wine tasting in Napa - the way to go!

After hot, sunny weather in and around Napa and Sonoma, it rained heavily
 for our visit to Northern California, but it was so beautiful and allowed for
 some mysterious looking photos of the coastline bathed in fog with crashing
 waves. . . . . . . . and the discovery of what has become one of my most
 favorite cheeses ever. . . . . . . . . . . 

. . . . . .Humboldt Fog - a soft-ripened goat cheese made in Arcata, CA.
 Winner of many awards both in the US and internationally,
with just four ingredients, pasteurized cultured goat milk, salt, enzymes 
and vegetable ash, this is a remarkable cheese. . . . . . and all can be
eaten including the rind and ash.

 Each handcrafted one pound mini wheel features, per the maker Cypress Grove
"a distinctive ribbon of edible vegetable ash, buttermilk and fresh cream,
 complemented with floral notes, herbaceous overtones, and a clean citrus finish.
 As Humboldt Fog matures, the creaminess develops and the flavor intensifies."

Yes, on these hotter than you know what days, I'll be prepared when it 
comes to eating and drinking. A somewhat expensive cheese, but Costco stores
 are offering Humboldt Fog mini wheels at an excellent price.

What to drink with this cheese?
While the cheese is young, a chilled
 Sauvignon Blanc - my always favorite white - or a demi-sec sparkling wine, 
is suggested. When ripe, a Pinot Grigio, Rosé (my summer drink), Vouvray,
 or a sweet sherry. When mature, a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir may be best.
If you prefer a thirst-quenching cold beer, the maker suggests wheat beer, 
IPA or Porter with a young cheese, pale ale
 with ripe, and IPA or Stout when the cheese has matured.

Do you have a favorite cheese?
I'm admitting to being a cheese-aholic. . . . . . . how
 about you?

The weekend's here again already - 
have a great one.
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