Blogging Conference News, Garden Updates, What I'm Reading {7 Quick Takes}

Friday, August 5, 2016


Hey you! If you're in the Southeast/Midatlantic area, you should come join us for a conference in Virginia on Saturday, September 3! Tickets are only $30 (purchase here) and you can find more info on our website here. Kelly Mantoan is our emcee, Mary LenaburgElizabeth Foss, Jenny Ryan, and Ginny from Small Things will all be there, and you can check out the schedule here. You should come!


We're finally starting to reach that "abundance" season where the garden is really producing a decent amount - tons of sweet corn (which has been hit-or-miss, some of it too gummy to enjoy, maybe because of cross-pollination?), tomatoes galore, basil out my ears, a decent amount of okra and beans, all the cucumbers we can eat, and the sunflowers are making me so happy!


I was convinced our watermelons weren't going to set any fruit, but Elizabeth spied a newly-pollinated female blossom the other day and when I looked closer I found two HUGE melons growing amidst the weeds! So I think we'll manage to get our money's worth out of those seedlings I bought, but yeesh watermelon takes up a LOT OF SPACE!!!

We tried to grow cantaloupe one year in our raised beds back in the suburbs but they sprawled out of the beds and into the shade so quickly that there was no hope for any sort of fruit. So this year it's really exciting that we've got tons of honeydew and cantaloupe (Ambrosia variety, just because that's what they had at the feed store...) on the vines, and I think a couple of the melons are finally ripe enough to eat!


Another new thing we're growing this year is okra - I was always convinced that I hated it, despite never having tasted it... But I've had it several times at restaurants in the past few years and it's always been really delicious! So we planted a bunch and have been harvesting a few pods every day and mostly just throwing them in brine and pickling them. They're tasty! 

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I've been using the recipe from Fannie Flagg's cookbook, although I just do 1/4 recipe and stick them in the fridge instead of processing them. That way I can throw in a bunch of sliced cucumber, whatever okra we have, and it's good to eat by the next day. Which is important, because the kids REALLY REALLY love pickles!


I got the cookbook from the library, along with a Paula Deen cookbook, because I wanted to do research on Southern cooking for a cookbook club a friend started up.  I settled on Southern Cuisine, Paula-Style for this month solely because I knew it would be easier to get her books from the library/find recipes online, but the Fannie Flagg book really makes me want to go read Fried Green Tomatoes! Her writing style is so fun, I want to read more.

So far we've done Julia Child, America's Test Kitchen, Moosewood (to get vegetarian ideas for Lent), Pioneer Woman, Spanish Cuisine (Penelope Casas), and a general Asian-themed night. It's been really fun and you should totally start a cookbook club with your friends! 


And while we're talking books, I'm still in the middle (well, maybe 2/3 of the way through) of Gone With the Wind and it's so wonderful. I read it every year from when I was 16 until I started having kids, wrote a big ol' paper on it in college, and haven't read it since before John Paul was born... So I figured it was time to read it again, and I was right! 

But goodness, it's a loooong, thick book. I love that, but my hands get tired! So I've been reading other books in the middle, and jumped on the bandwagon with a couple that everybody has been recommending... The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I seriously adored and couldn't put down, and The Awakening of Miss Prim, which was so lovely and I feel like I need to reread it because I tore through it (well, on Kindle... so I suppose "tore through it" isn't accurate) without savoring it because I had to know what happened!

Any recommendations based on those three? I have to say, I appreciate how nice and clean they all are, particularly the latter two which are contemporary books - ages ago I abandoned reading most new "adult" books because it seemed like a requirement that they must have casual sex, despite any lack of necessity in regards to plot, character development, anything. Why ruin a perfectly good book with filth? 


And last, now that I've gotten through this rather wordy post, if you're aching for more of my incredibly high-brow writing, here's what I've written this week:

Nope, My Kids Aren't My Prison - although today Peter cut my foot with his really sharp toenail, which is pretty much the same as prison violence, right?

The Worst Part of Teaching (and How You Can Help) - in which I lament budgetary crises that force teachers to spend their own money on classroom supplies, and give you a concrete solution!

My Sunday Best, Volume 14 - my final edition of Pants-Free July (and the readers sigh in thanksgiving)! I hope you can link up with My Sunday Best this week - it's such a fun way to discover new blogs and see other women doing their best to dress nicely to show respect to Jesus :)

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum! Go check out more Quick Takes!

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