Sunday, December 30, 2007


It's a cold gray day here. I'm sitting in my favorite blue chair in my home office with a cat on my lap. It's almost the new year. Happy New Year! That means a new garden to plan. The seed catalogs starting pouring in during the fall. I piled them in a stack on my bookshelf next to my blue chair. I'm not quite ready to start the planning process, not quite. I'm still recuperating from the fall clean up.

Of course there's always time to stop and take a picture of a pretty fall scene.

What happened to fall? There's practically no blog entries for fall, nothing for November (why am I pointing this out?) and certainly this will be the only one for December. Well, it's not that I didn't have anything to say, that's for sure. I even took pictures. I had pages written in my mind, but I couldn't get into the mood. When I started this blog, I told myself I'd only do it if I felt like it. I don't ever want it to become a chore or something I feel I have to do. Fall is probably the busiest season for me. There's the garden that must be ripped out and prepped for next year, there's tons of leaves to clean up, there's seeds to save, and on top of that, it's my busiest season for work (but I won't talk about that here). So fall is a blur for me. I just try to get through it as best as I can. I did take time to get some pictures here and there. I went apple picking too. If you've never gone apple picking, I highly recommend it. You just haven't eaten a really great apple till you've picked it yourself and stand next the the tree as you take a bite. I planted an apple tree of my own in my yard a couple years ago, but she hasn't produced fruit yet. Fingers crossed, maybe 2008 will be her year! I need to get one of the signs below for my garden, maybe change it to I Pick My Own. Don't want random people wandering in off the street.

"Pick Your Own," says the sign at Blue Jay Orchards. Thanks I think I will. Abundant apple trees don't disappoint, apple picking is a great fall activity.

One good thing about winter, I start to miss the garden. Why is that a good thing? Because by the end of summer and fall, I'm ready for a break. Especially after putting the garden to sleep for the year, one of the less fun tasks. Now I have to rely on other means of getting my daily intake of veggies. I can't just go out and pluck a tomato when I want it or a few handfuls of green beans for dinner. Although I do some canning, I don't do enough to feed us full time. It's mostly spaghetti sauce, salsa, and pickles on my shelves.

All that remains from the 2007 garden.

It really gives me a feeling of pride to see my bountiful shelves stocked with the fruits of my labor. Within those jars, a tasty meal or snack, that started out as just a seed less than a year ago. Many steps and much time went into making those jars of food. To me, plucking one from the shelf is much more satisfying than one from a supermarket shelf.

So, what does a gardener do during the winter, beside look at seed and plant catalogs? Why wood working of course! Don't see the connection? Well, me neither. To be honest, wood working was not a hobby I chose for myself. Hubby was interested and so I sort of went along for the ride. Just as hubby helps me with my hobby, I help him with his. I do like to design the things we build. But something changed for me this winter. I got tired of being the helper. It's really sort of boring holding this board, move that board. See? Boring. So I decided that I wanted to become a wood worker in my own right. Learn the tools myself from top to bottom. My goal is to be able to use any and all of our tools without explanation. I've given myself projects to do. Not big giant ones like our first project of a king sized bed. But smaller ones like these cutting boards. Not terribly hard to make on the difficulty scale, but still a good exercise in using the tools. The result, something useful and beautiful (to me at least). These maple butcher block cutting boards will last for years.

I made 4 cutting boards and kept the smallest for myself.

The other 3 were gifted to others, such as my neighbor (click here to see her blog).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Iris Eyes Are Smiling

It's not a typo. I'm not talking about Irish eyes. And, I'm not talking about the iris in your eye. This weather today reminded me of Ireland. This is basically how it was the entire time I was there, rainy, misty, cool. I can't very well complain about the weather today. We haven't had any appreciable amount of rain in weeks. Hubby has been watching the weather each day, just waiting for some rain to come and water our grassy lawn. It's been dry and there's only so much we can do for our lawn. It's just a little too much to water with our well. I like the grass okay, the cats play on it, and it makes a good backdrop for my pictures, but it's really hubby's bailiwick. So I'm happy it's raining today, we needed the rain.

One area I don't really have to worry too much about in dry conditions is my iris garden. What? Didn't you know I had an iris garden? As it turns out, this is my first year growing irises. Well, technically, I did plant the rhizomes last summer, but they bloom in the spring of the following year. By the time I started writing this blog, the irises stopped their blooming. I was on to strawberries, and veggies, and... well you remember. As I see it, it's never too late to take a look back. And see, they do make you smile, just cast your eyes on these babies.

Tahiti Sunrise

One thing you may have figured out by now, gardeners of all kinds are very generous people. We like to share our bounty with others, and doubtless it's because some other gardener has done the same for us at one time or another. Did you know, that I did not buy one rhizome for this garden as of yet? Two lovely gardening friends contributed the rhizomes that make up this garden. Most of them, over 20, came from one friend in Philadelphia (thanks Mit!). Irises must be dug up and divided every few years or they become overcrowded. This is a good time to share or trade rhizomes with friends. I look forward to sharing my irises when the time comes to renovate this iris bed.

Black Beard

There are countless varieties of irises, with new introductions every year. You can find them in just about every color of the rainbow (just about) and even black. The irises I grow are Tall Bearded Irises, but there are other types, really too many to list here. But you can read more about it if you click this link.

I can see how gardeners get addicted to irises. There are so many to choose from, the variety is endless. To me, they are some of the most beautiful flowers you can grow. They look so exotic, almost tropical. But you don't have to live in the tropics to have this perennial in your garden.

This iris below produced lots of blooms during the spring. They look so fancy. One would think they are hard to care for. On the contrary, irises are an easy plant to care for. That's probably the reason you may see them in a city park or planter.

Edith Wolford

Double Your Fun and Bonus Mama didn't bloom for me until September. They're still blooming now. I've read that they're rebloomers. So I'm anticipating blooms in spring and fall next year. Bonus Mama was the only one of my irises that grew a curvy stem. The rest were very straight.

Double Your Fun

Bonus Mama

Man About Town was known as "Mystery Iris" in my garden until a few days ago. My Philadelphia friend identified it for me. Handsome whatever you call him, still it's nice to know his name. I dig the stripes.

Man About Town

Returning Rose sounded to me like it was going to be a rebloomer, but she didn't bloom this fall. I think she gets her name from the fact that she just kept producing blooms over a long stretch in the spring. I photographed this one many times. I really like her. I'm sure we will be seeing more photos of her next year.

Returning Rose

Friday, October 5, 2007


The tomatofest offered a pre-mixed collection of tomatoes. One could buy tomatoes and
have them shipped home, or take them "to go".

This seems like the longest trip ever, doesn't it? Are you bored yet? I promise this is the last entry about our trip. Last but not least, we headed to Carmel, CA for a Tomatofest. This is a charity event that is put on by a seed company at a golf and spa resort. They emailed me back in June to say that we should come early and wait on the line. That the waiting line is an event in and of itself with food and entertainment. One thing, you might not know about me, I don't like getting places early and waiting (except when it's for work, getting there early makes me feel better, but that's different!). I just never see the point in standing in line. I have my ticket, I know I'm getting in, so what's the rush? Not ever having been to this event, I didn't want to take a chance that I would miss something. Then I might feel bad. So we dutifully went early as instructed. I have to say, the event was handled smoothly. Everything was very orderly and calm. But did we need to get there early? No! The "entertainment," some guys singing, was only in one spot, where we couldn't see/hear them. The food was popcorn and fried green tomatoes. I declined the popcorn. Who wants to fill up on that? I'm here for the tomatoes! This was my first time trying fried green tomatoes, and I gotta say, they aint bad! I always imagined that the tomato part would be bland having not ripened, but no, they were tangy. I like it. I'm not crazy about the greasiness of fried food in general and this was no exception.

Once the gates opened, we were let loose on tables of food (with tomatoes of course) prepared by chefs, a tasting table with 350 varieties of tomatoes, and wine tasting of many, many wineries. I headed straight for the tomato tasting tables. They were set up with a whole tomato in the middle, so you can see what it looks like, and then the cut up samples down below. I photographed the ones that we liked, so that we could remember for future reference. They had preprinted check lists available to mark seed purchases. Some of my favorites, however, were suspiciously missing from the checklist. Several ladies I met while circling the tomato table were surreptitiously saving seeds from the samples. I thought that silly at the time. I mean, who has time for that? This event is only four hours and there's a lot to see, eat, drink, taste in that time. Once I got my seed checklist and learned that some of my picks were not on there, or sold out, I was bummed. But since I have limited space and liked almost two dozen, there was no way I was going to get seeds and grow out that many any time soon.

We met a lot of nice people at the event. We were some of the last to leave, mostly because I was going over my tomato list. Sticking around, we were given tomatoes by different people we met. I didn't feel I could decline the tomatoes. That would be rude. But, let's face it, at the end of a four hour tomato tasting event, you're a bit tomatoed out. Plus, we were leaving the next day to fly home. I didn't think the airline would allow me to carry on tomatoes with the new regulations. I didn't want to eat anymore tomatoes that day either. So I gave all my tomatoes to the shuttle bus driver that took us back to the hotel. She seemed happy to have them. When it comes to tomatoes, it never hurts to pay it forward.

Toothpicks were available for picking up a taste of each neatly labeled variety.
I did find some mislabeled and misspelled. My reward? More tomatoes! Thanks.

We only had one day in Carmel, unfortunately. After the tomatofest, we got the car and went for a drive. We drove down to the cute town area, parked and went to the beach. We walked along it for a bit. It was surprisingly busy for an overcast early evening. We could see the pebble beach golf course and decided to get back into the car and go for a drive.

To enter this scenic drive along the coast, with mansions and look out points along the way, one has to pay admission. If I remember correctly, it was $9. I found this a bit humorous for some reason. We wanted to see it, so we paid the price. I think the views were worth the price of admission. The overcast clouds cleared out and left behind just the right amout of clouds to make it interesting. The light was beautiful. We happened to be there at just the perfect time of day for picture taking. For the rest, well there's not much to say. So I'll let the pictures do the talking. Have a good one!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

San Francisco Here We Come

Street corners have the names stamped into the pavement (right). You don't have to look up confused at the signs to know where you are.

This trip was my first time in San Francisco. It's a nice city. It's funny, the things that make it unique, are also the same things people label as touristy. I don't mind seeing touristy things, after all, I AM a tourist. People will say, you have to see the real city, like a local. Well, I'm not about to get up at 6:00 a.m. shower, shave, blow dry, iron an outfit and go out on my merry way to work. Isn't that what I'd do if I were a local? I'd much rather be a tourist. Roll out of bed when I feel like it and meander around wherever the mood takes me, and of course, take pictures (okay, that is my job, to take pictures, don't get all technical with me).

Before we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, into San Francisco, we had to stop and take a picture. It was early evening and the light had a golden quality to it. A very pretty time of day. Across the bay, San Francisco looks foggy. The Golden Gate Bridge has a team of full time painters keeping it that bright orange color. When they get to the end, they start all over again. I wonder if they have a hard time keeping employees.

One of the days we were there, we took a boat ride around the bay. These sail boats were heading out all in a line. In the background, you can see Alcatraz.

We cruised by The Rock and that was enough for me to see it from the outside. The boat tour featured an audio recording with interviews from past inmates of Alcatraz. One man spoke of seeing the federal penitentiary in the bay as he grew up in San Francisco. How it was a looming presence. He never imagined he'd end up there. Another man said he only ever looked out the window once while incarcerated there. He couldn't bare to see the teasing bright lights of the city. The sight of people living their lives in the distance was too much to think about.

Something I never knew about that I found intriguing. Americans Indians (I was taught to say Native Americans, but that is now out. So indigenous peoples of the Americas...), occupied Alcatraz Island 1969-1971. It was supposed to be a symbolic occupation carried out by urban college students, but turned into a full scale occupation that lasted 18 months. This sign below was on the side of a building on Alcatraz Island. Read more about it here, click this link.

Back on land, we saw some cable cars. I like looking at them. Especially the ones that look like this. Sort of like an airstream trailer with 1950's diner paint job. Most of them just look like regular city buses attached to cables.

Down at Fisherman's Wharf, on Pier 39, you can see all the Sea Lions you want. They like to hang out on the rafts here and started doing so in 1990. The Sea Lions alone make it worth the trip down to Fisherman's Wharf. Their barking is quite loud and boisterous. They fight with each other, sun themselves, groom themselves, and just sit around looking cute posing for pictures. I think they like the attention.

See that Sea Lion (Lioness?) and her (I think it's a her) three babies? She chased away any other Sea Lions that got too close to her little ones. They're trying to take a nap and they don't need some barker waking them up.

They remind me of cats when they sun themselves and squeeze their eyes shut tight. Hmm, this is the life.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scenic California

Ocean view at a State Beach near Bodega Bay. Hear the waves crashing. Feel the wind blowing.

Leaving for a trip is always the hardest part. So many things to do. Last minute work to be done, packing, line up a catsitter, and on and on the list goes. Getting out of the house, is the biggest step. The next hurdle is getting ourselves to the airport. We don't "travel light" as they say. We travel heavy. Very heavy. Camera, golf clubs, clothing X 2 people adds up. Well, we both need our cameras don't we? Believe me, one camera is one too few when you have two photographers traveling to a scenic place such as California. So we don't fight it. We've given in to the reality that we are not capable of traveling light and that is okay. Hubby is a good packer. He has a list, a plan and a spot for each thing. Each of us is assigned a carry-on item and we check the golf bags and suitcases. We've discovered the easiest, most economical way to get ourselves and our stuff to the airport, is to drive there and then park at a nearby hotel. The hotel shuttle takes you to the airport. The shuttle driver helps load and unload the stuff, and the car is safe at the hotel's parking lot. While waiting for the shuttle in front of the hotel the day of our outbound flight, a car pulls up and parks with one wheel on the curb, just feet away from me and my bags. An older man gets out. I couldn't help but notice him considering the way he parked. The license plate on his car read California.

"Long drive." I say to him.
"Oh, yeah, I hate driving in this city [New York]. People drive crazy!"
"Oh, yes. It's not easy," I say, "I'm on my way to California now." I nod my head toward his license plate.
"What part?"
"Napa, San Francisco, Carmel"
He kind of snarls, "You should go to Bodega Bay! My father was born there! Beautiful place! The Birds was filmed there! You see it?"
"Oh really, yes, I've seen The Birds. I'll have to check it out."

Well, really didn't think I would. But for some reason, that cantankerous old guy got stuck in my head. I guess I've always had a soft spot for cranky old guys. I told hubby about the conversation he missed while he was inside. I tucked that pieced of info away in my mind for later.

After Napa, our plan was to head over to San Francisco and stop at Muir Woods along the way to see the redwood trees. I'm not sure how it came to be, but we weren't in any particular hurry and figured this was our day to drive around some. So we took the scenic route and headed over to Bodega Bay. The GPS took us on a long country road, past farms, open fields, and mountains. Not much civilization as I see it. Thank goodness we found a convenience store, some might call it a bodega (and yes they had wine), with a port-a-potty out back at a critical moment. Then it was on to Bodega Bay.

We found a visitor information center upon entering town. We stopped and told the lady we wanted to see redwoods after Bodega Bay, and then end up in San Francisco. She suggested a route for us and told us to go to Guerneville to see the redwood trees. Gave us a map with a highlighted route and we were set to go. The first stop was an ocean view at Sonoma Coast State Beach at the end of a road that winds around the edge of Bodega harbor. On our way, along the winding road, we stopped at a store (they have bodegas in Bodega Bay!) and got picnic fixin's. We ate our lunch atop a peak with beautiful views of the ocean. The only birds around were the seagulls, who wanted a taste of my lunch. They were polite enough about it. I told them I wasn't willing to share and they found some other gullible person to feed them.

View from our picnic spot.

After that we drove North on Route 1 and saw beautiful wide open spaces like this one. That red horse was curious about me as I stepped from the car to get his photo. I hopped over a ditch to get close enough to point my lens over the fence and had to sidestep a raccoon skeleton laying there.

Further North on Route 1 we came to Gleason Beach. I love how those rocks poke out of the water. This looks like it would be a romantic spot for holding hands or maybe a picnic.

After some driving, we finally arrived at the redwoods in Guerneville. They are quite beautiful. One might even say majestic. If you look closely in this photo, you'll see hubby in the bottom right corner. He's wearing a blue shirt and red hat. See my tiny husband? I could probably fit him in my pocket at this scale.

The sun streams through the trees. It's pretty dark in the woods, except for the occasional ray of sunshine. The wind blew and the giant trees swayed. Standing still and looking up, you feel as though you are the one moving.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Left, a Copia tomato still ripening on the vine, named after Copia the place. It's red with gold stripes. Right, an heirloom, Yoder's German Yellow Tomato. A beauty of a tomato, freshly picked by Copia's head gardener.

We spent a morning at Copia in the town of Napa, California. Copia calls itself, the American Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts. There's a building that resembles a museum that houses a restaurant Julia's Kitchen (named after Julia Child), and Galleries with exhibitions. You really could spend an entire day or maybe two at Copia. So we were only able to sample a taste of it, instead of a feast.

Outside is a garden of edibles that are used in the food prepared at Julia's Kitchen. This place was right up my alley. Many, if not most, of the plantings are clearly labeled, although not always specific. The gardens are open for visitors to explore with wide grass lined paths. We had the opportunity to see many things that we are not able to grow in our region. Each garden bed is intensively planted with a variety of plants. I felt right at home.

A good time to practice restraint. I imagine it would be fun to harvest my own pomegranates, but I will have to just imagine as they are only hardy to zone 7. A great source of antioxidants whether you eat the fruit or drink the juice. If you haven't ever eaten a pomegranate, I highly recommend you try this delicious fruit. Inside are beautiful jewel like arils, juicy flesh covered seeds. That's the part you eat. Leave the pith and skin for the compost heap.

Pomegranates still on the tree.

Another tree I've never seen in person before, Pistachio. The fruits are quite beautiful at this stage. Inside is the seed, the part we eat. Copia must be a great place to live if you're a squirrel, although I did not see any. I did see some birds.

Pistachio fruit still on the tree.

I must have been fascinated with olive trees, as I photographed them over and over again. I think they would make a lovely ornamental tree, if only they would live through the winter. Alas, they will only survive in very warm climates.

A close up view of olives still on the tree.

After the olive trees, you come to a fence. Beyond the fence is a public street. We exit the gate and cross the street to see the rest of the gardens. That's where most of the food crops for the restaurant are grown. I met the head gardener and an intern gardener who were busy harvesting, while I poked around their tomato plantings. Harvesting is done on Wednesdays and Fridays, I am told. I had been wondering about that, as I saw some ripe fruits and vegetables on the other side of the garden before we crossed the street. The gardeners are pleasant and seem happy to entertain our questions. They use shallow cardboard boxes to contain the tomatoes they harvest. Hey, I do that too! Except their boxes are loaded onto a golf cart. Oh, that's too cool.

At the back of this garden is a children's garden. It's set up to teach about different aspects of gardening. There are compost bins, a spinning chart diagramming what vegetables are grown for each season, and a few other activities. It was in this area that I found a passionflower plant. I've seen these many places we've visited over the years, but I never get tired of them. This bee feels similarly I think.

Bee passionate!

Back inside the building, we saw an exhibition, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. The show features large photographs of 30 families, in their kitchens, from around the world with a weeks worth of food displayed before them (in the photograph). Beside each photograph is a list of what's pictured, where they are from, and how much it costs. I found it fascinating. Most of the photographs had an abundance of food in them. More than I would think a family would eat in a week. A book of the same title, was published in 2005.

In the lobby, wine stations lined a wall. (You'll have to click that link to see the photo. Blogger only allows five images per entry, although they are hosted on my website, go figure.) They're sort of wine tasting vending machines. Visitors can purchase a card with a spending amount, and then select the wine of your choosing from the vending machines by inserting the card. A taste, half or full portion is poured from a spout into your waiting glass. It was early in the day and we didn't feel like trying it. No one else was either. They thought of everything, down to a spit bucket supplied next to each machine for pouring out whatever you choose not to finish. I noticed at the tastings we had been to, most people drink most of what they are given to taste. I did not see one person actually spit wine from their mouth after tasting, although books on the subject insist this is how it's done. I imagine it would get pretty unhygienic pretty fast, so I'm glad people just swallowed their wine. Everywhere we went in Central California, we found wine tasting. I found this a bit amusing. Not surprising that wineries would have wine tasting, but I saw tastings set up even in little roadside delicatessens. I imagine it would go something like this, "Yeah, I'll take a pint of potato salad, a ham and cheese sandwich, and uh, set me up a flight of wine, will ya?"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Napa, CA

Recently, hubby and I took a trip out to California. We'd never been there together and never been to this part of the big state. We saw a lot of sites on this trip. It wasn't so much a relaxing vacation, as it was a drive around and see things vacation. A change of scenery is good every once in a while. Makes you come home with fresh eyes.

I'm only going to show just a few pictures of the different areas we visited. Just to give a sense of what it was like. They are not in chronological order or anything like that. Below we have a picture from an early morning. We decided to get up early and go take pictures. That's more my kind of lighting than the sharp, hot afternoon sun of Napa. This was actually, our last day there. I had briefly considered getting up at 5:00 a.m. to go on a hot air balloon ride, and then let that idea drift right on out of my head. Guess it wasn't meant to be. I took this picture as they were landing in an open area of a vineyard. We watched them deflate the balloon. Something neither one of us had ever seen before. It's quite beautiful. It's so cool and quiet out there. They just simply stop giving the balloon hot air and then give the fabric a tug. The balloon cascades down to the ground like a waterfall with a sound akin to rain.

This view is from the observation deck at Sterling Vineyard. We were told we had to go there by a few different sources. You take a tram up a hill from the parking area to the building. Then you go on a self-guided tour, stopping along the way to watch flat panel video screens with talking heads. Every so often, a human appears at a station where you get a taste of wine in your glass, which you've been carrying around with you. The observation deck is but one stop along the way, where you get a taste of Rosé. A beautiful view, I will admit. At the end, you're funneled into a less scenic deck and wine shop where you taste a few more wines and if you wish, purchase some. I found Sterling to be a bit cold and impersonal, such as it's name implies. Well, we did our prerequisite stop there, so we were allowed to leave Napa unscathed.

Some cows grazing in a pasture. Behind me, were workers picking grapes. Morning is the best time for harvesting grapes as it is still cool. We drew some curious looks from humans and beast alike, as we were on a back road away from the noise and crazed morning drivers heading off to work. Somethings are the same where ever you go.

What would a trip to Napa be without a picture of grapes. They're here, there, and everywhere. Even in the front yards of people's homes. FYI, these were in a vineyard.

An olive grove at Rutterford Hill Winery. The olives produced on these trees are sent out and processed into their own olive oil. I found the olive trees quite pretty with their small leaves and fruits. The leaves fall to the ground creating their own mulch, which is pretty and useful. The staff of this Winery were warm and welcoming. They gave us a (human) guided tour and tastes of many of their delicious wines. Another unique feature of this winery is the man-made wine caves cut into the hillside. These caves keep the temperature at an even sixty degrees, regardless of the outdoor weather. No air conditioning required.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Duck, Duck, Geese!

Okay, it's catch up time. I have lots to tell you and show you. Where have I been? California. But lets not put the cart before the horse, right. First, I have some more photos from the fair to show you... other than my last post of winnings.

First since I mentioned them, the ducks. Aren't they cute with their little head puffs? I wish I could have fowl, but alas, it is not allowed in our zoning. Yes, I learned that the day of our closing on our house. Funny as it may seem, that is actually stipulated in the rules for our subdivision. At the time, that was a bit a joke to me. I even made a joke about it. Our lawyer, ever the serious one, informed me what fowl was, as if I didn't know. Anyway, on to the ducks.

Isn't that funny how they positioned themselves? Just ducky.

Can't have ducks without geese can we? These aren't your average geese, not your golf course poopin' variety. I just want to reach out and smooth those neck feathers.

A pretty cow, if I ever saw one. She even has long eyelashes. What's your secret Miss?

Look at this precious little lamb. Doesn't he look cold without his wool?
I just want to give him a hug.

I love this Llama. So contemplative. Or maybe he's just hamming it up for the camera.
Something tells me he's the life of the party. He's lookin a mighty wistful.

I love farm animals.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

How Do Ya Like Dem 'Maters!

I know I haven't posted in a while. I've just been non-stop busy. No time for blogging. Not much time even for replying to emails no less. It's that time of year, the time when tomatoes are just about ready to take over my house. They even show up in my dreams. It's the avalanche of tomatoes. I've been busy preserving the harvest. I've made sauce, salsa, V8 juice (note to self, count the number of "V's" may really be V7 juice), canned tomatoes, pickles and dilly beans. Oh and I made a small batch of strawberry jam back in June, which I’m hording for the winter. I have some more ideas about ways to use my tomatoes, but time will tell if I get around to it.

A few years ago, Molly had asked me to enter some vegetables in the fair. I sort of brushed off the idea. I doubted my stuff was fair material. Then with prodding from other family members too, I decided that I’d do it this year. I’ve never been a competitive person. I really don’t compare myself to others usually. Only trying do to better than I had before. Only in competition with myself. But also, I open to change as the years go on. Just because I never did something before, doesn’t mean that I can’t do it now and vice versa.

Thursday night was the time to bring my entries to the fair. The tough part is knowing what is going to be looking good by then. The timing is just a week or two later than my peak for veggies and flowers. Everything was looking picture perfect not long ago. The entry form has to be submitted ahead of time, and then they mail back to you tags to attach to your entries. So I signed up for things that were looking good at the time, not knowing if they’d make it or not.

So Thursday night, I was having a hard time getting myself together. Just one of those days. All the tasks that had to get done looming over me, made me feel as though I was stuck in molasses or something. I started to think about throwing in the towel and forget about entering anything. Hubby rallied me and after some coaxing, I snapped out of the molasses and kicked it into high gear. These were my entires:

Sungold tomatoes in the Tomatoes – cherry – orange category, 10 to a plate.

Black Cherry tomatoes in the Tomatoes – other category, they didn’t specify how many, but I figured it should be 10 like the cherry categories.

Viva Italia in the Tomatoes – Red Plum category, 5 to a plate.

Aurora Peppers in the Peppers – other category, 5 to a plate.

Annual flowers- Nasturtiums – 2-5 stems

Baking – Sugar Cookies – 6 to a plate.

Baking – Banana-bran muffins in the muffins other category.

Canning – Spaghetti Sauce

Canning – Salsa

I had signed up for some other things, but really didn’t feel they were perfect enough to enter that day. So they stayed home. Here are the results. Of the nine categories I entered, only two did not result in ribbons. Not bad for a first try.

My first year making Salsa for canning purposes. Third place is not bad. The volunteer working the canning section, told me Spaghetti Sauce was their biggest category with the most entries. Said first place was impressive.

My first place plum tomatoes. They sure are pretty. We ate these folded within some chicken cutlets for dinner Sunday night. They finally fulfilled their destiny. They were some tasty prize winning tomatoes.

My first place Sugar Cookies. I make a mean sugar cookie.

Black Cherry tomatoes took second place in the "Tomatoes Other" class. First place went to some tiny current tomatoes.

My favorites, Sungolds took second place to only a slightly larger, less orange entry.

Aurora Peppers took first place in their class.

Sunday, I got to take my entries back and pick up my ribbons attached to them. According to the premium book, I have some money coming to me too. It’s not much, a few dollars for each prize. I think that just may cover my seed purchases that will resume this winter. Well, SOME of my seed purchases at least. Hey, it’s seed money!

We harvested a lot of tomatoes this weekend as I mentioned. I forgot to weigh them, but the dining room table was covered with all types, large beefsteak, medium, paste (plum), and cherry. I fretted about what to do with this wealth of lycopene enriched goodness. I ate one for lunch, not much of a dent in the pile, but every bit helps. I sent some over to various neighbors, but still had quite a bit left after that. Already exhausted from making sauce and pickles this weekend, I couldn’t face doing anymore this week.

I put the tomatoes gently in a box and set them by my mailbox in front of my house. “Free Tomatoes” a sign read. Went about my business of going to the fair to pick up, returned home and it did not look as though anyone had helped themselves. Sad, but Sunday is a quiet day around the neighborhood. I really couldn’t stand to think of them going to waste. I thought, maybe some of the staff would be around at the town golf course up the road. It never hurts to butter them up. Drove my box of ‘maters up to the golf course and it was pretty desolate with a sign on the door “Course Closed”. Huh? Turns out it was a tournament.

The restaurant, Café on the Green (a nice place with pretty views of the greens) and snack bar were both open with golfers hanging around. Hubby thought maybe they might take some tomatoes home. He brought the box in to the snack bar and spotted the restaurant owner sitting there eating his dinner. Tracy is his name. Hubby had played golf with him a few times, being paired up as singles. He asked him if it would be okay for us to give away these tomatoes. Tracy popped a few cherry tomatoes in his mouth and said, “Don’t give them away. I’ll pay you.” He gave us $20 for the box of tomatoes. Considering we were going to give them away for free, that was pretty good. More seed money! I was quite tickled by the exchange. Tracy told me to bring up any extra I cared to sell him in the future. Voila! I’m now officially a farmer.