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Maybe too many episodes of that British baking show...but I felt like making bread today! I hadn't in a very, very long time, although it's something I really love to do!

It took a bit more time than usual because the particular recipe I used called for 3 rises -- 1 more than usual, presumably because this recipe only had 100% wheat flour, no white flour in it, so it probably needed a bit more time rising.

And so it begins --

After I finished kneading --

Nice 1st rise --

My favorite part is the punch down!

I forgot to take a pic after the 2nd rise, but it looked pretty similar to the 1st rise, just higher. Here it is after the 3rd and final rise in the loaf pans before going into the oven --

Final result, cooling on a rack --
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With the pending snow and/or ice, I just put on some lentils on to slow cook. No particular recipe -- just dumped lentils, tomatoes, stock, spices and assorted other stuff into the Instapot.

Snow is preferable to ice -- ice often brings power outages. And I've put some water in pitchers in the fridge, and turned up the heat a bit just in case.

The past week was fun -- dinner or drinks with several different friends!

One night, I had dinner with my Portuguese speaking friends -- I had a good time, and for the first time, I understood most of what was said!

Of course, these friends always slow down for me, which helped. But even when they spoke slowly, I often had trouble! But this time, I understood a lot, and they even commented on that! Also, I didn't feel exhausted afterwards. In the past, I often felt exhausted because it was such hard work to follow the conversation. But I did okay this time!
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It's been a long time since I have ridden a bike in the rain! I haven't been riding much this year -- it's always raining! But I've been missing it a lot!

Today, I was bound and determined to ride just a little, so while I was having breakfast, I checked Accuweather -- "No precipitation for next 120 minutes" -- great! I get dressed, get some air in the tires and a water bottle full...and as I was leaving, I check Accuweather again -- "Rain starting in 15 minutes" What, lol???

"Light" rain it said. LIGHT rain, lol...so I went out, knowing that I might get a bit wet. Well, it rained harder than "light", and I came home sopping wet...I hadn't ridden in the rain in years, so it was sort of fun! I cut the ride short and only rode about 7 miles, but it was nice to be on the bike again!

It's nearly Fall, so I'm getting the last of the veggies from the garden -- tomatoes and bell peppers. The kind of bell pepper that I grow turns brown ("chocolate bell pepper") -- it doesn't change the taste.

I am also prepping 'the girls' with new batteries -- these are my normal Halloween decorations.

There have been a few butterflies in the garden lately - this Red Spotted Purple was out a few days ago --
Red Spotted Purple on Butterfly Bush

Lucky for us, Hurricane Florence was pushed more south for landfall, so we only got cloudy showers from it. "She" is supposed to turn and go northwest, but it seems only more rainy showers for us. Again....we are lucky in that regard. I believe I have a roof leak, based on the unpleasant, musty smell in my bedroom at home, so I have called a roofer to come and inspect the roof.

Book club was enjoyable this past week...I did have an interesting situation that has stuck with me.

When we were talking about the book, there was discussion of which actors and actresses would be best to play the part if there were to be a screen play. Some of the actors and actresses were unfamiliar to me, so I would search for them and find a picture online, then I would show the group to make sure this was the right person.

During the discussion, one of the guys mentioned that he hated that I was doing that because each time I searched for a name and showed the picture, it would bring the conversation to a close...lol....that surprised me. I mean, what else would you do but look up stuff online?

It wasn't a bad comment or situation or anything -- just surprised me that 'googling' wasn't just standard operating procedure when you're having a conversation, lol! Seriously, why would you NOT search, if you don't know who that person is???

Now don't get me wrong...I do sometimes find myself in situations where someone uses a phone or laptop while I'm talking to them, and it's completely frustrating. There is a friend who visits who will get lost in his phone or laptop for minutes at a time...to the detriment of conversation -- and I really find that frustrating. Now that I think of it, maybe I'll turn off my WIFI the next time he does that since I can control my WIFI from my phone, lol...

But that was not this situation at book club - in this case I, in-my-not-so-humble-opinion, was contributing to the conversation, lol!

Speaking of which, I need to begin reading the next book -- I put less time to reading now, and reading is harder to do since I have been trained to 'skim' online...a friend and I had a related discussion the other night. I was finding words in Wikipedia which I considered old and too formal for Wikipedia -- I thought Wiki entries should be written at a 7th - 8th grade level...and some of the words I was finding in articles would NOT be appropriate for that level. He disagreed, but seriously, when was the last time you said or wrote 'virtuosic'??? It's a fine word, but I think our language is changing, and those sorts of 'odd' words slow my reading down.

That reminds me that I need to watch the movie "Idiocracy"...lol

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This morning I went down to the river to pick up a few pawpaws. I think that some of these were not quite ready to harvest, but I mostly picked up the ones that had already fallen - some are very green.

The one to the right above looked like it might actually be past ripe, but when I cut it open, it was pretty tasty! Maybe just a smidge past, but definitely sweet, juicy and good!

The cherry tomatoes in my garden are definitely coming in fast now! I love them, but I'm having trouble eating so many! I wonder if I should make some tomato sauce with these....

Hung out for lunch and the museum with Nh yesterday. It was very pleasant excursion!
Stopped by the VMFA on way back from lunch today.

He snapped a pic of me to get me back for another similar pic I had taken of him a few month ago. I actually like this pic fine, lol!

The mural below is from the other night when Deege and I had dinner. It pretty well describes my emotional state regarding our current politics!
My reaction to current politics.  Mural located in the Fan District.

The Moonlight ride went was last night -- I haven't ridden in a few years, and I think there seems to have been fewer riders the last couple years. This kid was totally hamming it up -- standing up off the seat!
Moonlight Ride

This one I did as a black and white because she has very classic Spanish/Roman/Aquiline features. I thought the b&w looked good --
Moonlight Ride

This one is a sweet pic. It appears to be a dad taking a disabled child on a ride.
Moonlight Ride

There were plenty of lights, but only a few full featured 'costumes' (?) for the bikes!
Moonlight Ride

Today sitting on the porch enjoying the great weather and, of course, sipping a bit of wine.
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First tomatoes of the year! It took me a fair number of tries to find tomatoes that I could grow easily here (and also not have any wildlife eat them). I plant these tomatoes each year, and save seeds for the next year's planting.

Today, I got my first harvest of the season!
First tomato harvest this year!
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A few years ago, I bought a packet of Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry seeds.

I have grown a few plants and saved seeds each year from some of the fruit. Each plant doesn't make enough fruit to really do much with, so this year I planted a few extra plants -- I think there are 5 plants this year, so I'm getting more fruit.

Here are some of the plants --

When the fruit first started coming in, I had a couple small bowls full so I decided to make some jam. The fruit grows in its own wrapper, sort of like a tomatillo --

Peel the wrapper, and the fruit looks a lot like a cherry tomato. The tastes is more like a cross between a tomato and a cherry --

Only had a few; boiling with some water and lemon juice.

Added some sugar after the fruit popped open (and I mashed a bit also)...then let it cool and thicken!

The resulting jam was sweeter than I expected, so I might add a bit more lemon juice next time. I like it -- but you have to be tolerant of pulp and seeds -- which I enjoy, but it's definitely "jam" and not a strained jelly or anything!

Book club was enjoyable tonight, and now I gotta get to bed...after I finish my Old Fashioned night cap :)

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While at the ABC store today to prep for an upcoming get together, I bought some Absinthe on a whim. It even came with a slotted spoon, lol! (Notice Vincent's likeness on the end!).

I like licorice, so it seemed something I would like.

BUT WOW, it is so strong! I think this is 126 proof. I gotta figure out another way to drink this!
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This past weekend, I bottled up some vanilla extract that had been, um, extracting for the last couple months --

Here's where I was sterilizing the bottles --

I like doing that sort of stuff at home. I'm hoping to plant enough tomato plants this year to be able to can a few jars of tomatoes.

One of the nice things about subscribing to a music service (in my instance, Apple Music) is that you get to explore songs and artists that you don't know anything about! I've been listening to a 1960s singer -- Françoise Hardy --
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You might notice a change in the subtitle at the top of the page...'mostly vegetarian'.

Remember how when I traveled to Brazil, I was traveling with meat-eaters, and Brazil is a little hard for vegetarians anyway. And also, when you travel you don't get to taste the local food if you don't eat meat. So..I 'flexed', meaning I ate meat some days when we were there.

Well, I'm in a book club that also includes dinner...and there's usually meat (usually chicken) and a salad...so in someone else's house at a dinner like that, I usually eat some of the meat -- I 'flex'.

So, it just felt like I should update the subtitle on the journal!

Had dinner w/ my Brazilian friends...was nice. My listening is better, but still not there. Their English is amazing!

Hanging out w/ Nh tomorrow -- coffee, talking, stuff. It's a long 4 day weekend, so looking forward to just hanging out!
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It's been cold lately....which makes me hibernate! I've still been keeping myself occupied inside.


I have 3 Amaryllis bulbs inside in pots. I posted the time lapse of the white one blooming here. And the pink one has bloomed now --
Amaryllis 'Sweet Star'

The red one is in progress of blooming. It's nice to have growing things inside when it is so cold outside!

Frozen Bubbles

Speaking of cold...it has been so fricken' cold here! I'm not used to -3F (-19C)! While it was cold, I attempted some frozen bubble pics ---
Frozen Bubbles

Frozen Bubbles

Low Carb Diet

To get rid of some unwanted pounds from the holidays, I have been on a low(er) carb diet, which is the first time I have ever done this. It's been interesting! The diets tend to call for 25-50g of carbs a day, which was a non-starter for me. I love my oatmeal in the morning too much! I settled on 50 - 55 or maybe sometimes 60.

Here are my experiences so far --
  1. My jawline is sharpening, so I’m already losing weight. Probably water since you lose water on low carb.
  2. I have had some of the ‘keto flu’ or ‘low carb flu’ — feeling low energy even when I’m eating plenty of calories! Pecans help that a little. It reminds me of when I fasted for 3 days once — by day 3 I had no hunger at all, but day 2 was a drag. The lethargy went away today (Day 4).
  3. The top blood pressure number seems to be better today, although the stubborn bottom one is not improved. But if it helps the blood pressure, that will be great!
  4. My wine taste has shifted a bit, away from red to bubbly white or rosé. Not sure why, but sparkling Prosecco tastes better now.
  5. At first, I was very, very thirsty — constantly drinking water, and then constantly peeing it out! That passed after a couple of days.
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Spent new years at a friend's house last night...and today I have been productive.

One of my goals for New Year's Day is to get the tree taken down.

Typical clean-up of -- needles everywhere!

Started a book in its original Portuguese. So far so good -- the writing style is at my level -- although, of course, I have to look up unfamiliar words, like 'saddlebag' and 'staff' -- not words I use every day!

And yesterday, started a batch of vanilla extract. It'll be ready in a couple months. I guess for just pure extract, I should use strictly vodka, but I tend to mix up the alcohol. I also should use cheap alcohol when making extract...but I used what I had on hand!


14 Oct 2017 16:44
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Still getting some tomatoes out back -- it's been a warm Fall! They taste good, and I like the idea of eating what I grow...

Working around the house some lately -- I planted 90+ tulip bulbs today for next Spring. And I got "the girls" out for Halloween --

The "Girls" are out for Halloween!

The "Girls" are out for Halloween!

The "Girls" are out for Halloween!

Been pretty quiet on the social front this week -- I did make it to this month's book club, which was fun. Still having some medicine reaction issues...hopefully working through it. Otherwise, just being a homebody lately!

I decided to take the 3 month free subscription to Apple Music. I had tried Spotify -- but that seemed to be more about "playlists", and it didn't play what I liked. Pandora is repetitive. So far, I'm enjoying AM --

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Fun day with H today having lunch and seeing an art exhibit! What better thing to do on a sunny, but cool Fall day, but to have lunch and walk to an art exhibit in an old train station with a friend?!

Found a recipe that uses an ingredient in my bar that I don't often use -- Elderberry Flower Liqueur. I found a recipe online that looked good, so I made it tonight. Not too bad at all! The sweet elderberry is counteracted by the bitter pomegranate juice, with the vodka providing a punch, and the wine sort of smoothing it all out...

On a different topic, "Do Not Disturb" while driving came to iOS with the last update. There are various settings, but basically when the phone is connected to Bluetooth and you're moving fast enough, the phone goes into 'Do Not Disturb' mode to block distractions while you're driving.

Make sense. It sends 2 messages: 1 to say that I'm driving, and 1 to tell the other user how to override my setting (by replying with 'urgent'). Although 2 messages struck me as as 1 too many, and the messages are wordy, they basically do the job.

You know I use my devices in Portuguese so the messages are in Portuguese, so the messages defaulted to Portuguese. I found that I can edit the 1st message -- the one that tells the other person that I'm driving and will look at the message later. But I also found that I can't edit the 2nd message.

I decided to edit the 1st message since most of the people receiving the message are English speakers.

The effect on my phone is that the 1st message comes out in English and the 2nd in Portuguese!
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The tomatoes were do delicious today! I left them on the vine longer -- out of laziness -- and they were very red and sweet! I covered them in a blue cheese dressing and some torn up basil leaves.

The tomatoes from out back were nicely red today!

There was a Painted Lady on the Asters yesterday...Still hoping for some larger butterflies!
Painted Lady (?) Butterfly
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The cherry tomatoes are finally coming in. I'm going to dinner with friends tonight, but I got hungry, so this (with some Caesar dressing) is a snack.

Cherry tomatoes, with some Ground Cherries and Basil before I put on the dressing...
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This morning, I decided to try a recipe for a pancake made in the oven. Here is a recipe from online -- the one I used called for 3 eggs and 4 Tbs of butter (but I couldn't find the site for that recipe).

Easy and tasty with maple syrup!

I've still been playing with an app called 'Darkr', which is supposed to mimic old small, medium, and large format cameras, as well as mimicking how film was developed in an old-style darkroom. It's interesting to me, mostly because I never worked with a darkroom.

Here's a picture of a Coreopsis bloom from my front garden.
Coreopsis flower

Bike ride today and some yardwork. Otherwise, a pretty quiet weekend. The family did not get together for Mother's Day, but we should get together in a couple weeks for my Dad's birthday.

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A friend and I went out this past weekend to walk around the river. It was fun hanging out with him, and as a bonus I asked if we could scout out some of the trails for pawpaws. Luckily, we found a couple of ripe ones (and a bit over-ripe) lying on the ground. He had never had one, so I gave him one to take home with the instruction to eat it that day because of how ripe it was. I kept the other one.

Ever since I first realized last year that pawpaws grow wild and that I could eat them, I have had an itch to eat them again when they come in season. Here is this year's crop!

Pawpaw Flavor Notes

The friend commented that he thought they tasted somewhat like banana. I also could taste the banana, but for me there was some other fruity taste as well -- again just like last year, I'll say 'papaya' for lack of a better word for the flavor that was underlying the 'banana'.

Later that day, another friend was over and when he tasted it, he commented that it left a bitter after-taste. Which is totally true! It is something I had not noticed before, but I definitely noticed the bitterness after he mentioned it.

My plan is to head back to the river this weekend if I get a chance and see if I can snag a few more.

Circle of Life

On the same trip, I found a LARGE spider. I think it was a Black and Yellow Garden Spider -- an Argiope aurantia -- feasting on a Snowberry Clearwing hummingbird moth (Hemaris diffinis). It was sort of sad to see the dead hummingbird moth!

Cloudless Sulphur

That same weekend, I found myself chasing a yellow butterfly around the yard because I could not ID it. It was very skittish. And very fast flying, fluttering around wildly. It did NOT like it when I got within, say, 10 feet of him! This made it hard to photograph! I believe it was a Cloudless Sulphur.

Here he is DEEP inside a morning glory out back in the alley:

Porcelain Vine & Neighbor Notes

Below is a photo of of a honey bee approaching a wasp from behind. The bees, wasps and some sort of fly were everywhere on the out-of-control porcelain vine back there, and I'm not sure why because there are no blooms from that plant now -- just the fruit.

The vine is quite the invasive, but this one is not on my property; instead it is growing on a neighbor's fence. Because it's not on my property, I can't just go out there and start whacking away at it.

Come to think of it, that neighbor has let his backyard go to weed the last couple years. Actually, I have a couple of neighbors doing that. Although I like the 'wild' look, the other neighbors have taken it to a new level, with thigh high grass for one of them, and this porcelain vine everywhere for the other.

The neighbor with the tall grass is older, so that doesn't surprise me. But the neighbor with the porcelain vine was someone that I used to see outside tending his garden all the time. But not lately. He's not old, so I'm not sure what has happened.

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Last night, a friend was over and mentioned the sweet smell he was smelling. I guess I just assumed it was normal for Summer in the neighborhood to have this fragrance and had never investigated where the scent came from.

Turns out, the big tree out back, covered in yellow blooms was the, um, culprit :) It is an American Linden / American Basswood: Tilia americana.

The leaves are edible for things like salads, and the blooms are used for tea. It has medicinal uses for blood pressure, etc. There is one warning from a study about too much tea causing cardio-toxicity, so do you research if you decide to try this.

In any event, the tree is BIG, so I could not reach enough blooms to dry for tea. The trees live around 200 years, evidently becoming nicely "old" and full of holes for animals as they get older. The leaves have a fairly pleasant, although definitely 'green' taste to them. I think younger leaves would have been better -- the one I chomped down on was pretty tough chewing.

Here are the leaves:

And the blooms. The 3 long "leaves" are special leaves for the bloom -- I think they are called bracts.

Size of the tree, and you can see all the blooms on it:

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Continuing my quest to try the edible things in my yard and neighborhood, today I made some tea with dandelion flowers

First off, I had only mowed the yard just a few days ago, so I didn't have many flowers. I should have reduced the water in the pan -- the tea was not very strong.

First, I gathered the flowers that I could fine. I just put 2 fingers underneath each flower and tugged until the flower popped off into my hand.

Then, I put some water in the pan and put the flowers in. Remember -- there were too few flowers for this amount of water. I think the articles online showed a lot of flowers in the pan.

I brought them to a slow boil, then turned off the heat. Then I did some stuff around the house and came back -- probably about 20 minutes letting them steep.

The color of the tea looks like pee to me...but it tasted fine! I used honey to sweeten it. I would definitely make this again!

One side note -- if you take a medicine, make sure there will be no interactions.

Me? I take medicine that increases my blood potassium levels. And dandelion flower tea evidently is very high in potassium. So...this means I shouldn't drink this on a regular basis.

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You know...I don't expect people who grew up in a city to know much about their natural surroundings because nature is mostly over-whelmed by a city.

What does surprise me is that I, having grown up in the country, had so little experience with eating wild things. Although I had lots of experience with nature, my family only ate things we grew in the garden or bought at the store.

But there is SO MUCH available in the woods and fields for free!

As I was walking in the park yesterday, I noticed Hickory nuts on the ground. I did not take a photo of the Hickory tree -- easily identifiable, and you can search Google to find out what it looks like. I knew these were edible but had never had them, so I brought some home.

The nuts grow in a surrounding skin. The skin usually turns dark brown before the they fall off the tree.

The skin had already come off most of the nuts, so they were easy to gather. Here they are on a dish at home --

The nut has a very hard shell. I took a hammer and attempted to break one on my cutting board. You can see the divot the nut left on the board -- and with no effect to the shell itself!

So I took the nuts and the hammer outside to a granite rock which conveniently had a nut shaped divot in it already. When I whacked the nut on the rock with a hammer, it cracked open.

I didn't eat a lot -- just tasting it. If I were to describe the taste, I would say it is NOT like an walnut. The meat was dense like a pecan. And it was sort of was like eating a pecan, but more bitter. Pecans are sweet, and I would not call the Hickory nut sweet at all -- more bitter.

They were good, but the meat is not easy to get out of the shell. In that respect, it also like a pecan, but the shell is way harder than a pecan shell.

So maybe that's why we didn't eat them as a child -- it was easier to get nuts from the store :)


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."