Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seasonal reading

I am an avid reader. I always have reading material surrounding me....stacks of books by my bedside, books at work for my lunch breaks...books in the den, books in the car...I usually average 3 or 4 new ones per month and I re read my favorites every day. I can't help myself. Hello, my name is Jennifer, and I'm a bookaholic.....

For the past couple of years I've made an effort to match my reading material to the season of the year. Summer is for long trashy novels, childhood favorites, in general lighter fare. Which is all well and good, but my favorite reading is winter reading. And my favorite month for seasonal material is almost here. October!

I think the first part of the month is going to be devoted to gothic literature. I devoured Wilkie Collins' "The Woman in White" last month (I got an early start!) in 4 days. And it's not a short novel by any means! I had a splitting headache for the last two days I was reading it, but it was totally worth it. I could not put that book down! I had to know what was happening! So I think I'm going to read some more Wilkie Collins in the upcoming week. He wrote plenty of short stories so that should be fun.

Last year at the beginning of October I listened to an audiobook during my work commute. It was Neil Gaiman reading his book "Fragile Things". I am a big Neil Gaiman fan, and I really enjoyed hearing all of those short stories read aloud by him. My favorite was "October in the Chair" which the author dedicated "to Ray Bradbury, who would have told it so much better than I did". I thought most of the stories were really good and I'll probably re read it this year.

October is going to be busy for me. The store I manage will be doing holiday transitions, which always require long hours. I think that must be why I'm drawn to quick reads this time of year. When November arrives, I'll be ready for longer novels again. By then we can start lighting the fireplace and I can cozy up in front of it, with a book and a blanket and a glass of wine. Heaven!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Autumn Equinox and Harvest Moon!

This is a special full moon, as it coincides with the first of fall....or actually the midpoint of fall, as the harvest season actually begins at Lammas, Aug. 2. This is a time of balance, with day and night achieving equal length. People around the world celebrate and honor this moon and it's significance.

May your harvest be plentiful and your heart full of joy this autumn!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chili season's here!

For the past three days I've been working on a pot of my special 3-bean vegetarian chili. I was inspired by the cooler nights to make some although I normally wait another month or so to make the first batch of the year.

To begin, I saute onions, garlic, celery, and and assortment of diced peppers in olive oil.

When everything is soft, I start adding vegetable stock and water. Then in go the dried beans that I've soaked overnight. I always use black beans and dark and light colored kidney beans. And a dab of liquid smoke.

When the beans are soft, in go diced fire-roasted tomatoes. And sometimes a bit of tomato paste. Then the spices: chili powder, more garlic, cumin, cayenne, and sea salt. After another hour or so of simmering, I begin to taste to adjust the seasoning. The final touch is a bit of masa corn flour mixed with water added to the pot for thickening.

As with any chili, this gets better and better as the days go by. A huge pot rarely lasts more than 3 or 4 days though. And when we get down to the last little bit, I make burritoes :)

I can't wait to start making all of my favorite fall/winter foods: vegetable soup, chicken soup with egg noodles, apple pies, pumpkin bread, shepherd's casserole....mmmm...!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall gardening

It is almost time to work on all the things I've been putting off in the yard this summer. Although it's still quite warm midday, the nights are cooling down and the days are still reasonably long. It's a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, and bulbs for next year!

 Since we're in a new house we're eager to get started working on the yard, and I will need to begin preparing a bed now for next year's vegetable patch, where I will grow my beloved heirloom tomatoes. I missed the whole summer gardening season this year. I knew back in March that we would probably be moving so I didn't even start any seeds. It made me kind of sad! I missed having my tomato, pepper, herb, and flower seedlings to play with. I did buy lots of veggies from the farmers market this summer, which is the next best thing to growing your own. And we got lucky and moved into a house that has nine huge mature blueberry bushes. We had more berries than we knew what to do with, and we were able to share a lot with friends.I also froze about 20 cups for winter use. I have some strawberry plants in containers that I plan to plant alongside perennial herbs for next year. I already have lots of lavender, sage, and rosemary that I brought with us to get started on a nice herb garden!

 I'm a bit daunted by the amount of work that will need to be done here, though. Between amending beds for a small vegetable garden next spring, reclaiming areas of the yard swamped with purple iris (we'll divide and share with friends. They're beautiful but out of control!) weeding and clipping and mulching long-neglected landscaping in the big front yard.....I will have my hands full! I would also like to buy some tulip, lily and daffodil bulbs to plant for next spring, although I think October might be better for planting bulbs.

I will probably get started on my next day off (Friday). Today was spent reclaiming our house back from dust bunnies, Marco messes, and general mild chaos.Tomorrow will be a long long day, as I have to be in Charleston by 9am for work related meetings and workshops. It's a 2 hour drive, and we probably won't be finished until 6pm, and then I'll have the drive home. I always leave these meetings exhausted, so I plan to take it easy this afternoon and go to bed early tonight. The moon was gorgeous last night, and I enjoyed sitting outside watching it set behind the treeline, so I will probably spend some time out on the patio before going to sleep. I hope the good weather holds so I can do some gardening on Friday!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


We finally got some much need rain here last night. What a relief!  Everything had been drying up and turning brown after a month of high temps and no rain. Ginger seemed to really enjoy sniffing the moist ground on our walk this morning. The air seems much fresher and cleaner.  One topic of conversation all week around my house is how quickly the daylight hours are diminishing right now.  I think the days get shorter at a faster rate as we approach the equinox.  I know that the twilight is much shorter, too.

There hasn't been much to blog about this week.  I've been busy at work, and for some reason I have a real lack of motivation right now that I'm working hard to overcome each day.  I need to snap out of it, but the sluggishness of summer won't seem to lift, even though we've had cooler temps.  Maybe the first really chilly nights will give me a boost ! I'm ready for real fall weather, not just less heat :)  I want to wear sweaters, buy pumpkins, drink cider.....and put up my Halloween decorations....now!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Whiny Thursday

Sometimes I long to escape from my life. From everything. Just jump in the car, point it west, and ride off into the sunset. Stop somewhere that no one knows me, and be a new person for awhile.

I'm kind of in the dumps this week. The job is a grind, and with the holidays looming it's only going to get worse. Several long-time workmates have quit in the last few weeks, which means training (and getting to know) several new employees. When I'm home, there seems to be no end to housework and errands. I am also stifling under my routine...it seems that I'm in a rut in my personal life. Nothing seems exciting. I feel so dull.

I am also finding myself without anyone to really talk to about stuff. There is my wonderful Husband, and I am so grateful to be married to a great guy, but I would really love to have some girlfriends. Right now I don't have any true friends besides my husband. Even my family has been distant. My parents and I have never been extremely close, but lately they're so wrapped up in their own world that I feel that they have no time for me at all. I feel the same way about my in-laws. I love my mother in law and her husband, but between them they have 5 kids and 8 grandchildren. They are super busy. I used to go to visit fairly often and we would have loads of fun, but lately there has been varied problems with the other "kids" and since my husband and I are the "problem free" ones, we're kind of on the back burner.
And we never hear from my sister in law or brother in law. I tried for years to be close to my husband's sister and her kids, but they moved to VA  and the sister is in a bad marriage that she won't seem to do anything about, and her children are teenagers now. They were very close to their uncle and me when they were small, but now that they're older they don't even so much as thank us for birthday or Christmas gifts that we send. Their mother has withdrawn from the whole family. There is no point in trying to call her....she won't answer and she will almost never return the call, either. And I have no brothers or sisters of my own. So I feel kind of lonely in the world :(

 How do adults meet people and make friends? I am generally fairly outgoing, and I am kind and thoughtful. I would make a great friend! Lots of women my own age have kids and are all caught up in raising them, and maybe since Husband and I are childless we just seem kind of odd. The South is a very traditional place, where you marry young, raise a bunch of kids, go to church, vote Conservative, etc. etc. and I don't fit in with all that very well. Maybe I'm just too "odd" to feel like a part of my community.

Normally this stuff doesn't bother me so much. I'm not sure why I'm in such a funk about it all right now. I was a lonely only child and I learned at a young age to take solace in books, in my relationship with animals, in my own private world. I am truly thankful for my happy marriage and the blessings in my life...most of the time. I just wish I had more people around to share my life with.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fall is in the air!

I can feel it. It's subtle, but it's definitely there. A  hint of fall!
waterlily pond in autumn
It will be awhile before we have any real color in the trees. So far there is just a random leaf here and there that has changed color. We don't have our "peak" until late October/early November, and fall comes slowly. The temperatures are down, though. The nighttime temps are around 69 degrees, and the daytime highs are only in the 80s.  The sky is bluer, and the air seems slightly fresher. It's fun to sit outside and watch the bird feeders again. The birds seem especially joyful now that autumn is coming the hard work summer is over for another year. The squirrels are frisky as they begin to reap the acorn harvest (we have a huge beautiful old oak in our front yard).

I plan to enjoy every minute of the changing season!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Welcome September!

It's a new month, and a fresh start!

This week has been much cooler, the sky is bluer, and the leaves are just starting to turn a little. There is a hurricane off the coast, and I hope everyone will be careful and safe. It doesn't look like it's going to threaten the SC coast. Although I don't ever wish for anyone to get hurt, I have to admit to finding hurricanes kind of exciting. You stock up on candles, water, and non perishable foods, you watch the Weather Channel until the power goes out, then you break out the liquor (if friends are riding it out with you) and proceed to have a hurricane party. Lots of fun, especially when the storm ends up being weaker than they expect, and there are no real consequences. Except maybe a hangover :)

It's been a week full of Mondays for me. I'm restless and distracted at work, the computers keep going screwy, I can't seem to make any progress on anything....I guess I can blame Mercury retrograde! :) So tonight I plan to do the same thing I did last night...make an easy sandwich dinner, pop in a movie, and go to bed early. When the stars align against being productive, who am I to argue? I say embrace the moment! After tomorrow the 3 day weekend is here, so there will be even more time to loaf around and be non-productive. Hooray!

Happy September!