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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brain Picking, Part The Second

If you read yesterday's post about our Dylan's lust for 
polyester fiberfill and squeakers - how when they are 
inside a toy, they must be brought outside that toy - you 
may remember the pristine new
Alligator-Dinosaur-Dragon pictured 
alongside its bedraggled brothers.

Well, that pristine toy is pristine no longer.
Dylan, Gilda, and I . . . watching television last night in the study.
 I felt a little movement from Dylan.
 Yup.  He had the new toy, and was busily chewing its snout open.
He succeeded.
"Whew!  That was hard work!"

It's quite amazing how much fluff is contained in the head
of one of these little cheap toys.
 When he hopped down to get a drink of water,
I pounced on the toy and gave it a squeeze.
 That is not a big booger bubble coming out of what's left of New Toy's snout.
It's the plastic squeaker that had been in its belly.
Dylan has not eaten any fluff or any squeakers, but we take no chances.
Do you spot the OTHER two green toys on the floor?
Dylan returned.  He sniffed the toy suspiciously.
Mom had touched it.  Eeewww.....
But still, it was deemed snooze-worthy.

So now there are three disfigured Alligator-Dinosaur-Dragon toys.

And only one Dylan.
Many days I think that may be A Very Good Thing.
-- Cass

P. S.  Gilda, bless her heart, has zero interest in de-stuffing
         stuffies.  She just does not see the point.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Let Me Pick Your Brains . . . . Canine Style

If you don't care much for dogs,
you can skip today's post.  
Not that you need my permission to do that

Because it is about this guy,
our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,
Dylan DiPoochy.

 And these guys,
Dylan's beloved Alligator-Dinosaur-Dragons
We are not entirely sure which species these little stuffed toys represent.
Hence, the hyphenated names.

Since adopting Dylan during Hurricane Sandy last October,
our house has slowly filled with stuffed dog toys.
Dylan piles them up on sofas, and lies down on top of them.
He takes them for walkies in the yard, sometimes forgetting one
and rescuing it, dirty and bedraggled, hours later.

The only things he'd rather snuggle with than his toys
are his people and, sometimes, Gilda The Red, his Cavalier companion.

Luckily for Gilda and for us, he doesn't chew us open and pull out our stuffing.

Most of the time, when you find Dylan, you also find at least one.
Two.  Three.  More of his stuffed toys.

Some of Dylan's stuffed toys are quality items.
They have survived pretty much intact.  Most of those still have their guts.

But the little Alligator-Dinosaur-Dragons
are in the 2 for $5 bucket at the PetCo checkout counter.

Not really your quality items.

But Dylan loves them.
And we have managed to keep him from dining
on the white fluff he pulls out; thank goodness he's more interested
in the eviscerating than in the ingesting part of this process.

Which proves what those of us who shop for bargains,
and haunt thrift shops and secondhand emporiums,
are probably born knowing:
You can't judge the value of something by what you pay for it.

It's a rare picture of our Dylan that doesn't include at least
a glimpse of one of these little green toys.

So one may not have its snout, another may not have the top of its head,
and the new one will be similarly customized by our ferocious pooch . . . 
but they do look well loved, don't they?

By the way, during the photo shoot for these three toys, above, 
there was a quite frantic little dog bouncing up and down, up and down, 
at the side of my desk, worried that his little pals had disappeared forever.  

He got them back.
And so far, New Guy has not had a lobotomy.

May all of us find bargains that we cherish, 
and that amuse and comfort us!  -- Cass

Gilda thinks there was far too much talk about Dylan today.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sold! to #97 . . . A New Jersey Auction Adventure

'Scuse me while I go close the skylights in the sunroom;
it just got through to me that it is pouring rain.
Leaves blow in and get caught on the screening.  Looks awful, doesn't it?

I never claimed to be a MENSA candidate.

Done, and I'm back at my desk.
Watching the ferns fly in the wind.
Dear Howard: Where DO those extension cords on the metal chair belong?
Everything outside is wet and toppled over.

 These pictures are taken through the drippy sunroom glass.
The poor iris-es . . . they finally bloomed, and they're getting their iris-es kicked by the weather.

There's been a lot of rain, but thankfully Sunday was beautiful.
Clear, a little on the cool side, but a perfect day for this -
a barn auction in a gorgeous gentleman's farm setting.

Howard's carrying the coffee cups; we are ready to bid!

Where's Howard now?
Getting ready to bid on some small vintage chairs.

And we got 'em.  Nine country Sheraton-style chairs.
Rush seats.  8 maple. 1 oak.  None is identical to any other.
They must have been collected over time.

Broken rush; we're keeping this one to use ourselves.
What do they say about the shoemaker's children going barefoot?

5 have seats in excellent shape; they're going to my antiques booth.
4 have holy smokes falling apart rush seats.
We're using them around the old oak table in our sunroom.

Slat backs, with thumb back posts.

Yup.  Boo-Boos on the seat of this one, but the chair is still
very sturdy and usable.  I'll trim and glue the rush,
and make nice ruffled squabs for the seats.
This one has little black rubber shoes.  None of the others has rubber shoes.
Possibly there's damage beneath that black rubber.  I'm ignoring it.
I think the little black feet are kind of adorable.  Like tap shoes.

Howard and I had talked - at length - about buying matching chairs
for around the sunroom table.  We just didn't think we'd find them
at an auction, and pay $4 apiece for them.  Yes, you read that right.

Other auction wins . . . .

For $5, a box full of old silver plated stuff.

Like, a couple of old dog trophies from the 60s that appear to be shrimp servers.
Those Weimaraner folks apparently love their shellfish.

And . . . meat platters, serving trays, serving dishes, and a water pitcher.
Some of these pieces are going to polish up nicely; they'll head for the booth, too.
Others?  Not salvageable.  I'm going to try painting them.
Never thought I'd do that . . . but there's a first time for everything.

To the right - Clothes from Goodwill for Anne's latest
costuming job, a revival of West Side Story.

As the deli man says, "And vat else?"

Among other auction wins - a big lot of brass candlesticks,
a cut crystal lamp, a child-size drop leaf table, a country-style
Windsor bench, a brass tray on a stand, a Chippendale-style hanging shelf,
a box of antique linens - most of them useable! - and this:
a lamp made out of an old water pump, mounted on a piece of barn wood.

Yeah.  It's no great beauty, is it?  However, it brings back memories
of when my sister and I pumped oceans of water
from Grandma's backyard well to keep her garden in good health
when she took her annual summer visit to Aunt Bertha in Vermont.

I can still hear that distinctive squeak of the pump.
And how Peggy and I were sure that if we filched
a warm ripe tomato off a vine, that Grandma  - 
across Long Island Sound and many miles north - would know.

Well, I'll clean up this strange old lamp, and 
rewire it, and then decide - keep or sell?
It might look good in the sunroom.  Hey, you never know.

At least Dylan can't break it when he sneaks up
on the corner table to get a better view out of the windows.

How our Dylan spends a rainy day.  Love the damp curls!
Well, I have putzed around at the computer long enough.
Time to make myself useful.  -- Cass

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nuking Garlic, and Drowning Poppies

We wait each spring for the first
brilliant red poppies to pop into bloom
in front of the stone wall behind That Old House.

I got quite damp taking these pictures, and had to keep my camera facing down so as not to get the lens wet!

 The first few bloomed on Thursday morning.  And got rained on.
Lots.  Lots of rain on fragile poppies is not A Good Thing.
This morning: more poppies.
More rain.  More wind.
Watching them getting drenched and buffeted made me think
of my favorite scene in Mel Brooks' brilliant 1968 movie, The Producers.  

Yes, my poppies are wet; they're wet and they're hysterical.
Poppies have a short bloom life; these may only last a day or two with this weather.

Every blooming thing is lagging behind schedule this season.
I guess we really did have a long cold winter.

Finally, one iris is in bloom.  It, too, is wet and hysterical.
One of its petals is all shriveled and weird.  Icky.

There are dozens more iris blossoms still in bud.  Hiding.
They may be 3 weeks late, but they will bloom.

Do you hear that, Crown Imperial, who did not bother
to do more than make a token show of ugly leaves this year?

The clump of chives is in bloom.  I know; it's best to pinch
out the flowers, but I do love the look of them.  Even wet.

Maybe we'll use chives in eggs this weekend.

Which brings me to the garlic
mentioned in the post title.
Because chives and garlic go to the same family reunions, as they are kissin' cousins,
but no one wants to sit next to them.  You know . . . the smell.

Anyway.  Garlic.
The older I get, the lazier more efficient a cook I become.
After thwacking countless heads (bulbs?) of papery garlic
over the decades, I have discovered the joys of pre-peeled raw garlic cloves.

Ain't they darlin'?

They are available (and usually overpriced) at supermarkets, but warehouse stores
are a better buy -- although the bags are ginormous and you better love garlic.
We usually get ours at a local Korean greengrocer.  

While the pre-peeled cloves are undoubtedly real, normal,
true-blue American garlic, they don't cook up in exactly
the same way as garlic fresh from its papery shrouds.

Look Ma!  I have a tiny potato for a hat!

Sometimes, they stay hard.  As in, almost-raw-hard.
Even after getting all sizzling hot and bothered in a saute pan
with their BFFs from the Onion Family.

Anne, who does a lot of the cooking at That Old House,
and I decided to find a quick and easy way
of getting this garlic to cooperate in a saute pan.  

We found it.
You put the cloves in a micro-safe bowl and massage them
with a tiny bit of olive oil, or other oil if you must.
I used less than 1/2 teaspoon for this batch.

Into the microwave, covered or not, and set it on HIGH for a minute.
Open ... watch out for all the steam! ... jiggle the bits around again,
go for another minute.  And you are done.

Your garlic will be soft and squooshable, quite like roasted garlic.
And mellow, too.  Ditto.
I do this when there's no time to oven-roast garlic; it's a great alternative.

Okay, that's it for Garlic 101.
Did you notice that wee tiny potato in the garlic picture?
Anne roasted them last night to serve with
marinated pork tenderloin and sauteed zucchini.
These little spuds are the cutest things.

I almost feel as if we've robbed the cradle using such teeny taters.
But, oh my . . . they are so good.  Those 3 in that picture?
Yeah.  They've already given their all for my lunch.

This is getting to be a long and goofy post.

But before we say our Goodbyes, Dylan and Gilda would like to point out
that the post title could be read as ". . . and Drowning Puppies" with a quick glance.

"Yes, I know there is a Dylan behind me, waiting to pounce!"

My dogs are such nags.

I hope your Memorial Day plans come off swimmingly.
That is not a rain joke.  -- Cass

Join all sorts of other Food Fans at the Foodie Friday blog party
at Rattlebridge Farm blog, hosted by Michael Lee West.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hangin' 'Em High

Week before last, in this post, I wrote about the
ferns we hang each summer on our front porch.
Sometimes asparagus ferns.  Sometimes Boston.  

Most of you liked the Boston's leafy, beefy good looks,
but also understood the lure of the asparagus' airy, easygoing ways.

Visits to my usual garden center haunts yielded no Boston ferns at all,
and my no-fail source for big healthy asparagus-es yielded only dinky little ones.  

But from that grower, I got her last Balcony Geranium.  
She doesn't look like much, yet.  Come back in July!
Have you ever marveled at the enormous cascading geraniums
you see in Germany and Switzerland?  
Picture from The Christian Science Monitor
This is one of those.  I've never grown one,
so I've hung her up with the Boston boys, and will hope for the best.

Please ignore the raggedy old wreath, and Howard's collection of coiled-up extension cords.
Yes, we live like hillbillies.

So where did I get those Boston ferns,
if they were not at the garden centers?
Same place we buy our hummus and our haloumi.
Trader Joe's!
Three gorgeous big bad Boston boys,
waiting right inside the door of our local Trader Joe's.
Come to mama!

And they did.  Anne took an extra shopping cart, and we piled
3 big hanging ferns and our groceries all in together.  Serendipity!

The town we used to live in has a few wholesale growers who sell to the public. 
My favorite grower had the Balcony Geranium, and she also had absolutely gorgeous
Fuchsia plants, those wacky, over-the-top wonders of nature.
Yes, fuchsia are finicky but Anne fell in love with them, and she's promised
to either keep up with the care herself, or nag me till I do it.
Madame Fuchsia is on the front porch, on a suitably shabby pedestal
that I got at our church's yard sale eons ago.

Anne took a batch of fuchsia pictures this afternoon.

 I mean, really . . . how amazing are these flowers?

Ain't they purty?

I'm not sure how long they'll last, but my grower friend only charged me
$7 for the basket, so if Madame Fuchsia kicks the bucket after a few weeks,
I'll think of her as cut flowers - beautiful while she lasted.
Ooops.  At the top of the steps, we parked an empty iced tea jug that we use as a watering can.
See?  Hillbillies.  I told you.
Almost in bloom: the irises behind the house.  Finally!
And so many plants being tucked into the dirt here at
That Old House.
Stop by next Wednesday for some garden and patio pictures. -- Cass

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