An Afternoon on the Lake

image
Beautiful Pearl Lake in Lisbon, New Hampshire

 

 

 

My husband and I are practicing spontaneity in our new life. One Sunday afternoon, on a whim , we decided to pack up the little boat and go to Pearl Lake in Lisbon, New Hampshire.  It had been a few years since I rode in the boat, far too long to stay away from this vehicle of peace. Life gets hectic and filled with plans and every time Tom got the boat out it was for a long fishing night when I had other things to do.

 

 

With a bottle of bug spray, a tall blue cooler jug of ice water and my trusty camera, I boarded the boat. Tom brought his fly fishing pole and kit of flys and his trusty binoculars he brings everywhere, with hopes of discovering wild life.  I expected a quiet afternoon and couldn’t wait to snap photos.

 

 

 

Tom backed his Chevy truck back on the  boat ramp. Getting out, he warned me that poison ivy was laced along the bank and to stay away from it. I’m dreadfully allergic to it and always end up going to the doctors for a prescription when I come in contact with it. With significant apprehension, I squeezed by it. This endeavor was worth the risk, for once in awhile a peaceful adventure involves a little peril.

 

image
A swamp like edge of the lake

 

 

 

 

 

image

 

 

 

 

 

Cool water lopped at the sides of the boat, as my husband rowed us into a swampy area with lily pads and strewn logs. A hot sun cooked our faces and arms, as if we were roasting in an oven. Nearby lively teenagers hooted about their catch. Don’t they know the rules of devout fishermen? No making noise, for that scares the fish away! But seriously it was awesome to see teens enjoying the outdoors! Quiet whispers came from our boat, as I snapped photos of the welcoming country landscape and my handsome husband.

 

 

” Look over on there!” Tom pointed out two turtles sun batheing on a smooth rock. There was a mother Painted turtle and her young offspring.  Tom said they resembled Jurassic creatures. I agreed, as I peered through the binoculars to get a clear view. Their shells were dark with a faint colorful design, while their underbellys had a rich red pattern. Their heads poked out proudly, reminding me of snakes for some reason. I liked the looks of these guys but don’t particularly like snakes.

 

image

 

 

Tom cast his line and  it cut a few feet away in the water. Something jumped ten feet away, leaving a big pool.  Wow, a huge bass or trout! I watched as he calmly and effortlessly reeled in a small perch. It bounced wildly in the boat with a free will to survive. He smiled and dug his little trusty tool from the lining of his pocket. With a snappy thrust, the hook was removed and Tom threw him back home. ” I’ll catch him another time.” His usual statement, as most of the time this nature lovin’ man practices catch and release.

 

 

After a few hours we looked at each other, heard our rumbling tummies expectant of a late dinner. Tom rowed us to shore and led the bow on land.  He gingerly stepped out first. I stood up too quickly! I guess this was my inexperience, rocking the craft on the water. I almost lost my balance and I imagine those onlooking teen boys got a good laugh!

 

 

image

 

 

It was a relaxing and peaceful boat ride and I do hope we do it again before a few years pass. Have you gone on a boat ride lately? Possibly on a familiar body of water or maybe in a new exciting spot?

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Flea Frenzy😝

Here we are engulfed in a blazing hot summer in beautiful New Hampshire. As you all know, this season brings numerous insects and creatures out. Many thrive with the intense heat, such as those annoying  fleas. I’ve heard people mention fleas on their pets nonchalantly so I never thought twice about it. Slap a flea collar on and they should be all set, right? ( at least that was my belief) Think again.

 

 

 

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image

 

 

 

I haven’t written as much as I’d like lately for my household has a lot of activity. As most of you know, our son’s getting ready and packing for college. Not only do we have that chaos of boxes and trash bags, but unwelcome visitors once again. ( see my blog in December about flying red squirrels!) This time our family had fair warning of their arrival, but we all looked passed the signs, not considering the possibility of fleas.

 

 

 

 

About 6 weeks ago our cat Smokey started itching all the time. A few weeks into it, he started losing quite a bit of hair. Patches would fall on my rug, a sure sign of something wrong. So I took him in the crowded cat carrier to a vet twenty minutes away. It was a haunting ride of terrified squeals and meows, he was a poor little fellow of ebony with uncertainty floating about him.

 

 

 

The vet thought Smokey had anxiety. Had any new changes happened to our family? Was he depressed? I laughed at this because I didn’t know cats had depression. No, no changes, the same comfty window waited for him, a scratch of love everyday, comforting talks from us, a nice bowl of water,and  two feedings a day.

 

 

 

When I got home that afternoon I noticed our other cat furiously scratching as well. Then I knew. Parting her brownish gray fur, it took a scant few seconds to spy little black bugs scurrying in there. Fleas! Yuck!  We have had cats for almost twenty years. Never, never, never had we had to deal with or even think of fleas! Now it’s our turn to suffer and fight the fight!

 

 

 

Not only did we have a good month of cats harboring fleas, but our home was simultaneously being infested. Unfortunately our livingroom diningroom, stairs and upstairs hallway is all carpeted. It’s a breeding ground for these pesky insects and really difficult to eliminate.

 

 

 

After reading much information on the Internet, we decided to buy Cat Armour Plus, similar to  Frontline topical medicine at Wal- mart. You apply it to the cats back of neck where they can’t reach. It’s supposed to work within 24 hours and last a month. Let me tell you, as a concerned mother and house wife with most of  the responsibilities of their extermination, you can’t always believe the package. 24 hours passed by, then days and finally weeks with little results. Meanwhile I started my new exercise routine of swinging the 45 pound vacuum here and there for three hours a day. I pulled out furniture and snuck in the tightest spaces to vac in cracks and crannies. I sprinkled Borax down every night and kept our pets secluded in an untreated bedroom. My son and I religiously combed their fur once a day ( sometimes twice a day for good measure) and found numerous critters.

 

 

 

Okay, so this is how Im spending my summer off from school! Most teachers and paras are lying on the beach, traveling or doing what they love and I’m inside vacuuming and picking fleas off my cats. All I can surmise is that God is teaching me patience and this is a test that I must pass to be flea free. At my lowest moment in this mess, I was feeling sorry for myself and even crying in misery when I received a phone call. It was my co worker who has fought cancer for about three years. I was telling her about my flea situation when she filled me in on her vacation…that she had just had brain surgery last week to remove a tumor. Silence. Stupidity. I was tongue tied and shocked. That’s when I knew in my heart that this was a lesson and that my God had dealt it. I guess fighting fleas wasn’t so bad or the end of the world, while this woman I know was fighting a much bigger fight. Cancer.

 

 

I won’t ramble on about outrageous flea baths, a bombing incident that lasted a day or the silly soap and water traps I left out one night. Now our kitties have Seresto  flea collars on their necks.  It’s been one day and I noticed they’re not scratching. I know this isn’t over yet….for we have to rid the house of them. So the vacuuming, spraying and paranoid drama continues. And that was my summer.

 

As I write this and lovingly watch my cats sleep with some relief, I realize there are bigger and more encompassing problems in this life. If anything ,this is a nuisance but it will pass. The fleas will die and life will carry on. If I can give any of you advice, it would be this, embrace difficulties, take them for what they are, lessons. Remember this too shall pass.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

 

A CUCUMBER FOR THE AGES

 

 

 

It’s been a hot fiery summer in our state and my garden is showing it. Everything seems to be thriving from good ole Mrs. Sun. Despite this, we all know a cleansing rain shower feeds the plants as well and makes a difference in growth. The last couple of days have been cooler with the anticipated showers soaking the patch.

 

 

 

 

In past summers,  I’ve noticed that the saving rain brings forth miracles. Let me explain before you think I’m crazy…after rain showers I wait a day to dry up my crop. I really don’t mind getting my gardening clothes damp by walking through or working in a wet patch, but have found that the day off brings unexpected surprises!After a day’s wait,  I have entered my squash patch to find numerous treasures ready to pick and ripe red tomatoes bursting for my picking. Just yesterday a miracle veggie hung on my new fence, vines trailing up the lattice. When I approached this amazing wonder, there was a jaw dropping cucumber for the ages. It’s definitely the longest and  most hearty one I’ve ever grown!

 

 

 

 

Tom and I couldn’t stop laughing at this miracle and chalked it up to the fertile soil and the splash of mother nature’s juice. While taking a picture for posterity ( because you never know if this gem will ever be matched), promising thoughts of our town’s special annual day popped up …wouldn’t it be hilarious to showcase the town’s potential longest cucumber on display at the town hall? People from every corner of its borders would relish in this wonder! Saturday is the big day, a day of celebration, a firemen’s auction and community dinner and playing band to wrap up the day and my 18 inch cuke could be a part of it! Haha.

 

 

With the cuke harvest in full swing, I dream of delicious creamy cucumber salad and scrumptious cuke sandwiches! Cuke sandwiches are simple and so easy to make! Once you taste one, you may just be addicted. Here’s a warning, though, it must be made with fresh grown cucumbers, preferably from a local garden.

 

 

Simply choose your favorite bread ( I like multi grain from the store’s bakery) and spread a thin layer of mayo on both sides. I love sliced onion and tomatoes and lay them down first. Follow with sliced cukes. Sprinkle with McCormick’s Salad Seasoning, which is a delicious spice combination of paprika, poppy seeds, celery seed, black pepper,sesame seed, Romano cheese, salt, sunflower oil and a few more things. Add salt and pepper and you’re ready to eat! It’s very tasty and adds some punch to your veggie sandwich!

 

 

image
Yesterday’s picking, washed and drying

 

If anyone knows wonderful cucumbers recipes, please share! I’m bombarded with cukes! I would like to give away some but my veggie table isn’t working. People are not stopping so I need to find a different way to give them away!

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

A Work in Progress

 

 

imageimage

 

 

 

Last September my husband, brother- in- law Chris and my son Dylan tore down a decrepit shed/ barn that was attached to the house. At first our plan was to build an adjoining garage to the house in the shed’s place. But one day I looked out our bedroom window with a charming view of our little yard overlooking the pond and suddenly I didn’t care for the idea. I tried to convince Tom but words wouldn’t make the difference, so I told him to look out that window. It didn’t take long for Tom to admire the beauty and dream, as I did about our bedroom view. ( which will be even superior with the other window we intend to install.)

 

In June Tom’s long time friend, Mike stopped by and on a whim offered to bring his tractor over. He offered to help dig and level for the post and beam garage. The dream was beginning to be reality and the first promising step taken!

imageimage

Then a few weeks later Tom hauled discarded telephone poles to the site. They would strongly be the frame for the garage. The next step was to rent a machine to dig the holes and help place the posts. Our son Dylan worked a weekend with him inserting the poles into the dug holes.

 

image

image
A happy father and son duo

imageimage

 

image

In just a few fleeting days a frame appeared. With the use of a trusty ladder, my talented husband hoisted up boards to nail down. He was so speedy that I missed taking pictures of some steps. Here are some of the latest ones of this amazing project.

 

 

imageimage

As summer days breeze on by, the garage continues to evolve. A determined man of many skills vows to complete as much as he can before snow flies( which could very well be in October around here!) Until it’s finished and cars are parked securely in its bays, I’m keeping track of every step along the way. After all, years down the road we may forget steps or memories may fade…but pictures and journaling will be reminders of the process.

 

This is garage project/ dream just solidifies my proud feelings. This man, my husband, knows everything there is to know about cars, building, welding, electricity, plumbing and the list goes on. Not only do I love this man, but relish in his God given talents and independence of getting everything done by himself.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

Photo Challenge: Morning

via Photo Challenge: Morning

 

 

image

 

 

As I walk silently with a purpose across the lawn, I notice sparkling sunlight welcoming me, the family gardener. Ahh…there is an enveloping cool air, a sure sign of summer in New Hampshire. Visions of digging in dirt overcome me. The growing patch bathes in glowing sun rays as little birds chirp and whistle, ” Good Morning!” Morning spent in the garden equals harmony and essential for a great day, well spent.

Happy morning to you all wherever you may be!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

 

Plenty of Summer Squash And A Few Recipe Ideas

 

image
This mornings picking. I realize the big ones went a little too long but will be good for stuffed squash.

 

 

 

One of my favorite summer morning activities is rising bright and early to watch my garden thrive beyond its bordered fence. The squash leaves strut with glory  and keep growing ,as bees dance from blossom to blossom. While the busy humming bees travel busily, the majestic gold sun warms my skin. As a young child I feared their presence, now I carry a stark opposite reaction. The gardener in me thanks God for bees and how they help my plants. Sometimes I crouch weeding or tending to a plant while a morning fog encloses me and I feel like I’m immersed in a cloud. It’s just me and the bees in this small patch.

 

 

Yesterday afternoon it was much too hot and steamy to be in the garden but there I was in capris and a tank top, tolerating it so I could pick. With a big mixing bowl and little herb snipping scissors I began in the squashes. Six strong summer squashes take most of the space as butternut squash  vines intertwine among them.  Mmmmm…bright  yellow veggies are ready to pick and entice my appetite for dinner later. I noticed some have a bumpy skin with a curled shape, must be a crookneck variety. Others have smooth flesh with stems just ready to snip.

image
Sunlit leaves growing with grace.
image
A garden grown with love and a lot of hope.

 

 

 

 

image

image
A beautiful sight of the squash sisters

 

 

Every year when the garden starts its grand performance, it’s time to plan dishes to use all these fresh veggies. One great resource that I use that never fails is Pinterest. If you haven’t experienced this site before, I highly recommend it. At first it’s overwhelming and as you scan through the pages, pictures are everywhere of all different things. It’s a nightmare for ADD tendencies, but if you stick with it and learn it, it’s a valuable search engine for garden veggies dishes. In this case I would type in summer squash recipes and hundreds would pop up.

 

 

 

One of our favorite summer squash dishes is frying it. Simply slice the squash in rounds. Dredge with flour, dip in beaten egg, and then panko bread crumbs. I use plain or Italian, both are really tasty! Heat canola oil in frypan and place squash rounds in. Fry for a few minutes on each side so that they are golden brown. Once fried, place on plate with paper towels to soak up extra grease. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and fresh Basil from the garden. This is a great side dish with anything, fish, chicken, even seafood.

 

Another delicious idea to use that summer squash surplus is a casserole. Slice squash in rounds. ( You can use just summer or mix it up with zucchini or even both with fresh tomatoes for a unique taste) sliced Vidalia sweet onion and layer with the squash. Make a cheese sauce and pour over. Top with crushed ritz crackers and a dot with a few tabs of butter.

 

My husband loves it when I stuff summer squash or zucchini. There are many different ways to do this. One way is to hollow out the squash and set aside. Prepare stuffing and add cooked crumbled sausage. Fill the squash boat, top with cherry tomatoes and sprinkle cheddar cheese atop. Bake 350 F for about 20 minutes or so.

 

With all my extra squash I’ve decided to start a new project, Pay it forward Veggies. It involves a small rickety table placed in our front yard, adorned with deep yellow squash and a simple cardboard sign saying, Free squash! Please pay it forward! Every time I pick I’ll choose a few for the table and help others complete their meals and maybe spread a little kindness in doing so.

image

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️