The Cat-Bird Seat

ImageLook closely. That’s Jake, up on top of the birdhouse. I figure he must have climbed the apple tree and then hopped from it over onto the birdhouse. It’s supposed to be a bluebird house, but despite the many bluebirds in the area, a pair of sparrows made the first move and had a nest of babies in it. The parents were a short distance away, scolding Jake for his attempted invasion. It didn’t seem to phase him, though.

ImageHe carefully jumped down when he saw me coming. (This is why I don’t have any closeups of these antics.)

Jake is very friendly and can’t resist coming over to say hi…

Image…but of course he tries to play innocent about what he was just doing.

ImageSee? Who could doubt that face?

Of course, as soon as I walked away he headed right back toward the birdhouse. It’s going to have to be moved as soon as the Sparrow Family moves out.

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Quick, Easy, Delicious, Healthy

It’s always a dilemma when you realize it’s gotten pretty late and you haven’t started any supper yet. Do you slave away in the kitchen and not eat until ten o’clock? Or do you break down and order a pizza and tell yourself that it must not be that bad, because cheese has calcium, and tomatoes are good for you, right?!?

Now that struggle is over. I have fallen in love with Ree Drummond’s Chicken Florentine Pasta. The Pioneer Woman really masters quick and easy with this dish, and it just tastes healthy in the best way possible!

ImageEven though the picture is a little blurry (oops!), you can still see the lovely colors- the bright green spinach and bright red tomatoes taste really fresh and remind me of the old rules about eating colorful foods.

I confess that I tweaked the recipe a bit this time by adding a little bit of red pepper flakes. I love spicy food, and that little bit of heat really rounds the dish out for me. If you don’t like hot food, don’t worry, the recipe is delicious as it is! I love that this pasta is so good for tweaking; one time in the past I didn’t have any chicken, so I put in mushrooms instead. It is a nice light meal either way, but especially with the mushrooms substituted. Meatless, it is almost like a hot pasta salad; you could even use it as a side dish!

This pasta is also good left over. There is some in my refrigerator right now – I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Do I Feel Lucky?

You bet I do! How could I not, after finding all of these four-leafed clovers?

ImageBut that’s not all; I even found a real live ladybug! The ladybug is the Tennessee state insect, along with the lightning bug (a.k.a. firefly), but what you usually see in the spring these days are a different variety used by farmers to eat aphids and other pests that wreak havoc on their crops. These insects are more orange than red, and they bite!

ImageI think these are good omens for the summer, don’t you?

 

 

 

How Does Your Garden Grow?

With lettuce leaves, and onion sprouts, and potted herbs all in a row!

That’s right, the garden is starting to go in! It’s very exciting. We started some lettuce from seed a couple of weeks ago, but clearly it is still tiny little leafy sprouts. Therefore, we set out a few lettuce plants as well, so that we can start eating it soon! We chose some red lettuce for our bigger plants.

ImageThey look a little wilted and squashed now, but they will perk right back up in no time. I’m sure the rain that has been coming down all afternoon will help!

The pieces of wood are sort of a gardening secret, but more just a sign of bad cat behavior (or, I guess really just normal cat behavior). It keeps them out of the boxes. They, of course, think this soil that we have worked up to be nice and soft is just for them. I am sure you can figure out why they like it and the reason we don’t want them in there!

We also put out our little baby onions. They look adorable sticking up out of the dirt! Hopefully they will become big onions this year instead of just the slightly larger onions we often end up with. We certainly put enough mushroom compost and home-made compost in there! Surely they will be happy and swiftly-growing little onions!

ImageThen of course we have the ever-crucial herbs! Food is always better with fresh herbs, so we make sure to have plenty!

ImageHere we have parsley, sage, thyme, tarragon, and basil. Also a couple of Don Juan climbing roses, which we will set out in the ground once we decide where to put them! The thyme and sage plants lived through the winter sheltered somewhat from the elements in the garden house.

ImageThe thyme did the best. It kept all of its growth from last summer and looks downright bountiful and artistic! You can see the parsley peeking up behind it, and the rather bedraggled looking sage to the right.

ImageHere’s the French tarragon. You can see the new plant we put in at the top, and at the bottom there is a tiny sprout of the old plant coming back. I want to be sure there’s plenty. Bearnaise sauce is completely necessary to put on steaks in the summer!

ImageLast, but certainly not least, is the basil! We use it more than anything else. I could eat pasta made from fresh tomatoes and basil every day! It’s also great for making pesto, which you can eat fresh or freeze to use in the winter. Pesto is great as an ingredient or to just eat as an hors d’oeuvres on toasted bread.

As much as I love nice spring weather, setting out all of the vegetables and herbs really gets me impatient for them to start producing lots of delicious food!

April

SAVOR of love is thick on the April air,
The blunted boughs dispose their lacy bloom,
And many sorry steeds dismissed to pasture
Toss their old forelocks, flourish heavy heels.
Where is there any unpersuaded poet
So angry still against the wrongs of winter
Which caused the dainty earth to droop and die,
So vengeant for his vine and summer song,
As to decline the good releasing thaw?
Poets have temperature and follow seasons,
And covenants go out at equinox. 

The champions! For Heaven, riding high
Above the icy death, considered truly;
‘My agate icy work, I thought it fair;
Yet I have lacked that pretty lift of praise
That mounted once from these emaciate minstrels.
They will not sing, and duty drops away
And I must turn and make a soft amend!’
At once he showered April down, until
The bleak twigs bloom again; and soon, I swear,
He shall receive his praise. 

John Crowe Ransom
 
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