right now

right now

Jul 16, 2011

See Virginia! warning -Lots of photos :)

Imagine a place where you could get fuel, grab some peanuts, pawn some tools and get Saved all at the same time...  (wish I was being facetious but there actually are places like that here!)

When you think of Virginia, what comes to mind?  I thought that since I had to leave the metro area yesterday to take the kids to camp, I'd take you along!  The things you probably thought of as cliche' are still valid and true here, and they start happening only 20 minutes out of town.  Yes, we have the Virginia Beach Resort Strip, all the Colonial "stuff", NASA, shipyards, and the largest Naval Base in the world - but all of the above put together is such a tiny part of extreme southeastern Virginia, the rest of the state is agriculture, the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, the Appalachian Trail and the wonderful culture of the people that live there.  Here's a little mini-tour!

First we had to actually get out of the city - no small feat!  Actually it's not too bad leaving our house, that oncoming traffic is everyone headed TO the beach, we're leaving!  Fun fact:  we live off the very last exit on Interstate 64... the freeway just plain ends there at the Atlantic Ocean.  I never really thought about it until one of the kids asked!

Cotton Fields 

Peanut Fields

The town we went to for camp is known as the Peanut Capital of the World

there are peanuts at every stand, market, gas station, and store

Lots of places to buy your watermelons, collards & Confederate Flags... I wish I could say "just kidding", but I'm not :)

Of course, Virginia Hams...

Lots of ammo & guns & fishin'


If you ever wanted to know what many of the Virginia farms/plantation homes looked like, here you go.  Unfortunately, since the shutdown of the major peanut plant, pork packing facility, and paper mill out here many are falling into disrepair and becoming choked by Kudzu and the like, but there is no hiding their charm and there still are many that are very beautiful.

I noticed this while driving... I have no idea how a bobber got outside my windshield, but it seems like a good thing to have onboard supply-wise :)

Here we are turning into the drive that leads to camp!  It is right in the midst of plenty of agriculture, but it looks so different since this is on the edge of part of the Great Dismal Swamp, so it is lush and treed here with an abundance of water and canals.

The boys!

Does anyone remember my comic fascination with kids at camp that arrive with rolling suitcases bouncing down the dirt paths?  We saw a little girl that absolutely takes the cake on this one, look at the size of that thing!  It's a weekend camp!  Hubby deploys for 9 months with less crap than that LOL!  I bet her mom is at fault here :)

In contrast, "bad mom" here only lets my kid take this much...

Loch making his bunk and begging me to just leave already!

Finn's counselor looks like a giant around all these little shrimps!  

I checked with the mess hall before I left camp to see what was on the menu... wait for it.... Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & Collard Greens!  

I sure will miss all the true cliche's about this area, we live in a special place.  Although I don't want to live here forever, I sure am lucky I got to experience it all for so many years.

Last night we enjoyed a kid free night at a friend's house.  Nothing special except a bonfire, drinks, and catching up with friends we hadn't seen in far too long - which made it very special after all!

This evening, we are headed to another garden party at someone's house, I just love to spy on other people's gardens, so much fun!  The weekend is going far too quickly, and I'll have more photos I'm sure of the kids when we go to pick them up tomorrow - I can't wait until "full-week camp" !

I will also admit that the whole drive home yesterday I felt an urge to load up on ammo and trade the Outback in on a lifted pickup truck, and holler a few "yeehaaaaawwww"s out the window :)

Jul 15, 2011

Fantastic Friday!

Several reasons I am having such a great Friday...

Yesterday and today highs were only 80ยบ!  Although I didn't even go into the back yard garden at all yesterday, I did get after the neglected front yard beds, and it feels so good to have them presentable again.  The photos are of two beds, but the two beds are mirror images of each other so you get the gist of how cleaning it up made a difference.

Before, the beds were overgrown and weedy.  I have a "woodland" type shady garden out front, although I have a wall of sorts of Carolina Jessamine vine to screen out the neighbors' junk LOL, the vine tends to run away with itself sometimes.

After, I hacked back the huge spirea bushes to promote new growth, re-staked my falling down in the wind topiary evergreens and weeded.  The birds can find their little teak water bowl now :)

The bed in the center of the yard needed no care, although I did plant my 2 flats of free bedding flowers in there finally.  They were on clearance about 6 weeks ago (I guess because they needed to be deadheaded?) at a big box store for $2 a flat, and I had a $5 coupon with no minimum purchase, so that's free, and we like free. :)  I still have the sidewalk "hell strip" bed to contend with, but that is truly hellish and I don't want to think about it today - and we have to powerwash the house soon... the pollen of spring and the weeks of rain and heat have got it looking pretty icky.

Another reason for happiness - after telling the kids repeatedly to stop running in the house, when they finally did spill the big cup of lemonade on the table, I made them clean it up themselves!  Finn thought about protesting and blaming it on the dog, but my look said otherwise.  This is a new thing for me, normally I don't "like" the way they would clean something and so I do it myself, but no more.... I feel free :)

HUGE reason to have a fantastic Friday - I'm leaving in a few to take the boys to 4-H camp, woohoo!  Sad?  Not even a little bit!  Camp rocks, I wish I was going!  Check out the photo of Finn's supplies, do you notice anything?

Oh, yes... a stick of that horrible AXE deodorant!  We were at the store the other day picking up a few last minute trial size shampoos for them and Finn said he "must have the "Adventure Stick"... LOL, this was another occasion where I chose my battles carefully.  At 49 cents I let him have it, and he has been ridiculous with it since we got home.  Every 20 minutes he puts it on, then he puts it on his stomach, arm, etc...  I'm just hoping he loses it at camp!

I don't really have time to get out this afternoon and tackle the garden in earnest in this beautiful weather since we have to leave soon, but I was able to throw together some refrigerator pickles in about 20 minutes.  The jar of cukes has garlic, dill, peppercorn, mini bell peppers & Fish hot peppers (fish because they look like Koi, not because they taste like fish LOL).  The other jar has a bunch of Sigaretta diBergamo sweet peppers with a couple of the leftover hot peppers and dill, both jars with fresh picked grape leaves in the bottom - it really does work to keep things crisp, I've been doing it that way for 3 years now and I swear by them!

Unfortunately, I'll probably come home to an empty house tonight.  Hubby was deployed last year so couldn't make the trip to camp, and this year he is working crazy hours again.  I was hoping to take advantage of this weekend without the kids to go camping or go visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello plantation, but I'm out of luck.  It's a 2 hour drive to camp and he won't get off early enough to go, and he has to work when I have to pick them up, too.  Day before yesterday was a 15 hour day for him, grrrrrr.  He's "the boss" now so he can't just make up excuses like the junior personnel anymore :)  It's times like these when I actually wish he was just deployed.  At least the kids understand "deployed", and he gets extra pay when he's deployed, and we desperately need that!  Oh, well, more wine for me tonight then, eh?

Well, we're off to camp!

Jul 13, 2011

A slice of heaven!

Aside from eating plain, I can't imagine a better application for the Brandywine tomato.

I'm not even sure why I added the veggie burger in there!


Jul 12, 2011

Garden? What garden?

Whatever happens, happens out there.  Woke up to temps in the 90's already, we won't say what it is right now :)

Yesterday we went to the beach-

That's hubby swimming, he takes it pretty serious out there with his fins and distance.

Here it looks like he decided to keep playing in the sand after the kids abandoned him.

You know you are at a military beach when you can wave to the Special Ops guys and they wave back at you!

This is a busy area since we are at exactly the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay where it dumps into the Atlantic Ocean.  I like the beach here since the water is shallow for a ways out, perfect sandy bottom with no rip currents - perfect for kids and swimming.

In the evening we headed out again, this time to the ocean which is closer to us, for some surf fishing.  A different military base this time, and we were about the only ones on the beach.  The air was much cooler here this time of day, but very heavy and humid.  

Hubby doing the pre flight checks on my pink rod :)

Finnegan caught his very 1st fish last night, a little croaker!

Loch fished hard, but no success.  We missed fishing the tide by about an hour but there's always next time.  He had already had his "1st Fish" a few years back in northern Wisconsin, so I'm glad he was able to let Finn have his moment without too much upset.

We fished on into the evening, enjoying the early appearing moon.

Finn's a regular fisherman now, although he was having trouble with the "catch and release" concept.  One day he'll catch one that's big enough to keep and then he'll have something to compare his first catch to.  I explained that you would have to have a whole "mess of croaker" in order to get enough to eat!

I hope these guys have photos just like this one when they are 20, 40, and 60 years old - I'm not normally a very emotional mommy but this sight brought a twinge of a tear to my eye :)

 Today is a different story - over 100 degrees so I'm canning the past few days' worth of tomatoes and enjoying Finn's suggestion for the ideal Jalapeno seeding outfit...

The colors of the orange and yellow Hillbillies with the pink Brandywines looked so pretty I didn't want to blend them today so I just canned the stewed chunks with pepper, garlic, oregano, marjoram & basil from the garden, will be good added to chili or pasta in winter!

Think cool thoughts, y'all!

Jul 11, 2011

I'm not having fun anymore!

Gardening here has officially turned into "foraging"!  Due to daily temps in the upper 90's and weeks of daily rain, the garden is a complete nightmare.  Although we have sand for soil here so drainage is normally not a problem, our high water table at about 6-12 feet has now been saturated so the ground is a kind of squishy yuck.  The mosquitoes have taken on B-horror movie status and everything outside appears to be growing tentacles!   The absolute last thing I want to do is work out there.  Last night we went out at 7:30 to at least pull some weeds and try and dry out some of the things around the patio/living area since we are having out of town visitors next week, but we were eaten alive in the hour we were out there.

Here's some gross:  the rain and humidity and heat were so bad that our outdoor fiber rug on the cement patio had algae growing on it!  I'll spare you photos of that scrubbing evolution.  I'm hoping to at least get the gravel perennial beds and sitting area cleaned up. Hubby's sister and brother in law that are coming are from Arizona and are used to heat, but she's well into her summer pregnancy and I fear she may suffer greatly when hit with our humidity here!

There are SVB killed squash vines that need to be pulled, tomatoes that need to have blight trimmed, a couple of the Hillbilly plants have to be ripped out they are so far gone.  I won't even talk of the grapevines and weeds that have taken over...

This is my pathway in front of the garden, you can see the grapevines have now crossed over into the perennial garden and have started attaching themselves to the ornamental grasses.  Above that it's hard to see but the Scarlet Runner beans have crossed over at head level and attached themselves to the Purple Vitex tree LOL.  I need a machete and a bug suit!

In the photo below it looks pretty enough, but on closer inspection, some of the yard long beans have wrapped all around the Poblano peppers and there are BUGS everywhere!

In the shade all of the oregano is blooming and alive with bees.  I just allow it to self sow every year and my oregano patch is now huge and is a regular part of the perennial gravel patio area.

The harvest yesterday -

I made an easy pasta salad with some of the tomatoes and peas from the freezer with balsamic dressing and feta, easy dinner, but it didn't make a dent in the tomatoes LOL, I'll be saucing again tomorrow after harvesting a few more.

Yesterday brought the largest Brandywine of the season so far at 2 lbs, 1 oz - even if it does look like a butt :)

The loads of tomatoes ripening are almost all picked out, tomato plants don't set fruit well when temps are in the 90's consistently, so I'm hoping the plants make it to late August and September when they really kick into their final big production.

Tomorrow is supposed to be 100 degrees with super high humidity so the heat index will be well above that - you would think I would take advantage of the mere 90's we are having today to get some work done? - NO WAY!  We're going to the beach!  I'm purposely not heading to the beach until after lunch so I can pack a dinner of easy sandwiches since I know after being in the heat all day there's no way I will want to cook when we get home.  Maybe another hour tonight of garden machete fun?  Have to find my bug suit.....