Monday, June 30, 2014


On a whim yesterday we headed down to Princeton NJ to go to the Princeton University Art Museum, have lunch and hopefully meet up with friends who live there.

The first plus is the museum is free, but they recommend a $5.00 donation. Worth every single cent. We did not linger long in the museum due to having a two year old in tow. He did well in there, but after we left the cool horses from the Han Dynasty, paintings by Ruben and Kandinsky and others did not hold his interest. My husband led him out while I sprinted from room to room, agog at such a wondrous collection of art. Honestly, it was pretty amazing.

We also walked around the campus of the prestigious University. Marvelous architecture abounds and it made me wish I had done way better than I had done in high school and was a touch more academically ambitious. Say what you want about Ivy League schools, too liberal or too elitist or too whatever. Sidebar: You can't mention costs because the Ivies do have some of the biggest endowments in the Nation.
There is a vibe about them that you don't find at just any college campus. Not to dismiss other places like UCLA or Texas A&M or University of Michigan. It's just different and of course, not for everyone.
The University itself is in the heart of downtown Princeton which was incredibly bustling. There were also quite a few college tours happening for prospective students as well as sports camps for all age ranges. Very nice.

We did end up meeting our friends and having lunch at a Greek restaurant which was really very lovely. We also got ice cream at the Halo Pub. Delicious!!

Here are some photos from our little excursion.

Because I was in a rush, I did not necessarily check the names of the artists I took pictures of so I do apologize.

I do know the below is Rubens.

This is the Medieval Art and Islamic Art area. There were beautiful Islamic tiles and stained glass from Churches, I really need to get back there and spend more time.
 Photos of the campus.

This is the Princeton University Chapel. There was a tour right inside the doors and I did not want to intrude. Stunning place.
 Door handle on chapel door.

As we were walking, this little garden caught our eyes and we both knew immediately that is was a memorial to something. Well, it is a memorial garden for Princeton Alumni that lost their lives on that horrific day known forever as 9/11. Very moving.

So if you are ever in NJ, check out Princeton and enjoy!


Monday, June 23, 2014

As They Say, The More You Know

As a bonafide city kid, one can note that I have taken to certain parts of country living well. Open space, farms, wildlife of all kinds, hiking trails, nice parks. Others, not so much. Sidewalks. We need sidewalks in my town dammit! And a Trader Joe's. Petty issues yes, but I can complain a little can't I?

One thing I really love about where I live is the constant sounds of birds. All types of birds. It is sort of amazing how many different songs one can hear in an hour in the morning.

As you can see by the photo, I have a cute little nesting box on my garage. Currently a family of bluebirds have taken up residence there. I put the shepherds hook there awhile back when I realized they were moving in and figured it would gave them a place to sit, observe and protect.

I used to have bird feeders but the squirrels and deer were too aggressive with them. One morning I went out and my suet cake holder was gone. I looked everywhere and never found it. Bear, deer, raccoon, who knows what the hell took it so that was when I decided to just provide clean water and sunflowers for the birds to have fun.

Since I am ignorant to birding as a whole I have begun some research. One of the first things I was interested in doing was getting more birdhouses. I started to look up what types of boxes I needed and lo and behold I came across the fact that we have two very aggressive species in NJ that will kill, yes kill, my pretty little bluebirds to nest in the birdhouse. The House Sparrow and European Starlings are considered invasive brutes and we can humanely euthanize them if we catch them because they are such a threat to our native species. (See here.) Personally I am not killing anything, but I will do what I can to prevent the little buggers from screwing with the current residents of the birdhouse. I am happy to say I have only heard the calls of these particular birds and not seen them in my yard, but one never knows. I have witnessed the bluebirds fighting off other small birds, but not the House Sparrow or Starling.

On another fun note, I have a house finch nesting in one of my hanging plants. She has about 4 eggs in there so I am letting her be and trying to water the plant best I can. I do think it is sort of cool to have them there though so I see no reason to make a fuss.

Thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I am hip to all things birds.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Easiest Pickled Beets Ever from Blind Pig & the Acorn and a Random Photo

Seriously, if I get beets again in my CSA, I think I am going to give this recipe a sincere shot.

Easiest Pickled Beets EVER

And because I am tired and feeling sort of loopy, I wanted to share this photo I took of Dave Vanian of The Damned. I was at one of their first farewell tour shows, this one was 1989 in NYC at The Ritz, and my friend and I won a contest to meet them. Rock on.

Grimly Fiendish for those who want a flashback.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Duke Farms

For Father's Day we took a trip down to Hillsborough, NJ and visited Duke Farms.

There is a lot of history behind the place, read here, but in a nutshell this tobacco/power company magnate left his daughter, the philanthropic heiress Doris Duke, some serious cash and property. The property in NJ was famous for its gardens which apparently trustees, newly appointed of course, closed in 2008 because you know, greed is an ugly  thing. Anyway, Duke Farms has been converted into a more "stewards of the land" sort of situation which is fabulous, but probably not something Doris imagined or had specified in her will. Speaking of which, I found it amusing,  in a dark way mind you, that Duke University in North Carolina contested the will saying they deserved some of the assets. Really? Really? Asses. But I digress...

The land itself is lovely and it is a free park where you can walk the immense property, take the tram or ride your bikes. You can actually bring your own or rent the bikes.

They have managed to get the outbuildings LEED platinum certified which is no small feat. We took a tram ride to the orchid conservatory and it was stunning. Miss Duke apparently adored orchids and she was a cultivator, propagator and hybridizer of the species.

I have never seen so many unusual orchids and the conservatory itself was hauntingly misty, the sounds of water fountains filling the space. People spoke in low voices and all you heard were cameras clicking. There were so many types of plants there and I loved the Spanish moss everywhere too. I would visit it everyday if I could.

My son was not as enthralled as I was, but he did love the water features.

So if you ever in NJ, stop by Duke Farms, you won't be disappointed.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

The More You Know

I cannot believe that in all my years, I have never, ever thought to do this with my duvet.

How-To: Put On A Duvet Cover Magic Burrito Style

My bed making game has officially changed.


Monday, June 9, 2014

A Bounty of Food

This past Thursday was the "opening day" pick up for our half share from the CSA. Here is what we got.
A huge tomato, green onions, beets, parsley, radishes, spinach, lettuce, asparagus and kale.
I admit I always feel a small amount of pressure to get everything prepared so nothing goes to waste. I made salad the first night which was great and I still have some left for lunch today. Tonight I will roast the asparagus and make some fish and perhaps Israeli cous cous as well. Then I need to make plans for everything else.
The biggest bonus for me is that no one else eats beets so I can be a gluttonous fool. Whoo hoo!!!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pictures Of My "Gardens"

The original owners of my home were at best, sloppy when it came to the yard. Random fruit trees and flowering trees placed with no rhyme or reason anywhere. This has presented challenges but we have learned to work with these issues best we can. 
One of my responses was to tear our the Yucca plant because I do not live in the southwest and have never understood fellow New Jerseyians planting such a thing here. I have also lost one of my larger sage plants to simple death. This has left the mound looking a touch bare as she was right in the middle.

As you can see in the photo above, this is a work in progress. On the right is the area where the yucca had called home and has left little babies sprouting up everywhere. While it did sprout pretty flowers, it intersected with the pear tree which was planted next to the mound, WHY???, and it just looked messy. 

Below is a shot of my beloved oregano who I just call "The Whore" as she has spread out more than any other herb I have ever owned. She was a small plant when I got her and now she has gone rampant. Just to her left is the echinacea which also grows bigger every year. There is also lemon balm, tarragon and more sage. I try to plant things the deer won't eat around my vegetable/cutting garden as a sort of protecting wall.

Now you shall behold which is to be my cutting garden. The sad part is, I weeded, composted and now, I have no idea which are the weeds and which are the seeds. Idiot. Yes that is random mint you see. I planted that around the garden as well because I like things that get out of control. Not really, but it has been helpful. I have to cull it back often, but we do use it. The clumps of green you see done up in a silly pattern are the wildflowers and then there are more of them scattered about along with zucchini, sunflowers, dill, blanket flowers and cucumbers. Luckily the veggies are recognizable. The others, not so much. I am a little disappointed as it does not seem like the sunflower seeds took. On the bright side, I have strays sprouting up from last years crop of them so we shall see. Unless it is a weed. I have no idea. Oh the shame.

And finally, two shots of my rock garden area. I have impatiens in a pot and that vinca you see there came from a small plant that used to be in that pot. It grew out and spread worse than the oregano. I do like it though and have cut it back a bit. The purple flowers are so pretty. I also put some cuttings behind our hostas, but I did not take pictures. That will be for another time my dears. Please note the beautiful Buddha statue gifted to us from my brother. The placement of it is perfect.

And those are some of the areas I tend to around my yard. I do enjoy it though and wish I had the time and money to do some serious planning and gardening, but no matter. It is just a pleasure to walk out and see things in bloom.