Wednesday, July 29, 2009


What's up with this weather? Why do rainy days make me feel so sad?

Images like this don't really help either:

I miss my mom.

I miss my dad.

I miss my Caitlin.

It breaks my heart to know that he doesn't remember us kids anymore if we're not right there in the room with him. Mom said that he really likes Caitlin and kept telling mom how beautiful and smart she was and then Caitlin faded from his memory like a mirage, right after she left. His very first grandchild.


Just like that, she's gone.

I'm gone. He doesn't remember Eric or Matt, Dawn's new husband, at all. It's as if we're all ghosts drifting up out of the mists: we float into view and then away again. I don't know how much he remembers about me when I talk to him on the phone because he doesn't stay on for long and he talks a pretty good game, never getting into specifics.

Rainy days are hard for me. I dwell on sad thoughts. I'm a dweller.

Hopefully in the morning this melancholy will be gone, not unlike my dad's memory.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twenty Two Months

Down by the river.

Just when you thought they couldn't get any older...they do!

Oh...wait. Strike that.

A few new things have been popping up in Twin Land. Logan now calls Emma by name...sometimes. I suspect the introduction of Elmo into their world had something to do with it. Seems that if it's easy enough to say "Elmo", it should be easy enough to say "Emma". So he does. When he wants. Emma, on the other hand, still has no intention of calling Logan by name, but will helpfully point out "Baby cry!" when Logan is hollering his head off.

Logan, not to be outdone, will tell you that Emma is off having a diaper change: "Emma diah-pah!". He will also, very helpfully, tell you that he needs a diaper change by patting his own butt and saying, "Diah-pah! Diah-pah!".

Connecting two words together seems to be happening this month. Right after I wrote last month's entry, Logan put his first two words together (that we recognized): Fishy cracker. That's right. He wanted fish crackers. Now, he says fun things like "Bye, Daddy!" and "Hi, Daddy!" on a regular basis. Bye Daddy followed by blown kisses in the morning is how Eric is serenaded off to work. Emma just looks around for more food to nosh on. Sorry Eric, ya can't win 'em all.

Both twins have learned the power of bedtime stalling. I'm not sure where they got the idea, but it seems to have paid off for both of them. Now when we announce that it's bedtime, they both immediately start gesturing and announcing "Foo! Foo!" to let us know that they are suddenly starving to death. Nevermind that we just cleaned them both up from dinner, they're starving. Bedtime triggers that response, you know. Just ask Caitlin. (Hi, honey!)
Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Mommy?

I also noted that they've both gotten better about sharing things like drinks and food. This was especially helpful during out trip up to Estes Park this past weekend since Caitlin wasn't in the back seat to hand around snacks and drinks. She's our inflight service attendant, albeit an unwilling one.
You wanna rock?

When Logan finished off his cup of milk, I asked Emma to share hers and, to my surprise, she did! Awesome! Then, later, when Logan wasn't eating his granola bar (I suspect he may be a texture eater and doesn't like the mouth feel. He doesn't like nuts, either. Weird!), I asked if he'd share it with her and he handed it right over. Excellent!

This new-found sharing skill doesn't mean that they both aren't still up for a little ill-gotten gaining on the other, though. Snack stealing is still all the rage in Twin Land.

Both Emma and Logan are still crazy about bath time and are willing to jump into the bathtub fully clothed (if not stopped), so when we let them splash around in the river up in Estes, they clearly couldn't believe their luck. They waded right in.
And started tossing rocks.
And getting soaked.
Splish! Splash!

We had to drag Logan back a few times - he seemed intent on getting in too deep. The big difference that Logan discovered very quickly is that this big water wasn't all nice and warm like at home. As much as he liked it, I think he likes being warm a little more. He started climbing to higher ground after he'd had enough.
Dis is code. I outta heah!

I'm goin' up!

Emma, apparently, is made of sterner stuff and stayed until we dragged her out. Soaked socks and all.
Little bitty hands. Little bitty feet.

Shaking the water off.

One of the big problems we seem to be running into these days is food. We don't know what to feed them anymore. Some days they'll eat everything and then other days and day and days, it seems like nothing makes them happy except more starchy food. I want to get more protein into them, so if you have any ideas on that score, leave a comment. Suddenly they want nothing to do with hamburger, fish, chicken or sausages. I'm running out of ideas. Seriously.

I'm not sure where they are on the food allergy scale, but Emma had a run in with a hellacious diaper rash this past month so I currently am avoiding all sorts of acidic foods for her and Logan and an assortment of fruit that appears to also be a trigger. No tomato sauce. No grapes or raisins. No strawberries. She won't eat blueberries, although Logan will inhale them if given a chance. Both have gone on a banana strike. Apples are OK, until they're suddenly not.

Fortunately, since they both like baked goods a lot I am at least getting zucchini into them via zucchini bread (both chocolate and plain versions. They really liked my banana bread, although Logan started picking the walnuts out of his. Emma would then snag them and eat them. More for her! Neither one seems to want to eat the crust on my homemade bread, so it makes me wonder if it's a lack of teeth issue.

They still don't have all their teeth. As a matter of fact, they still both have just 3 on the bottom, plus a pair of baby molars for Emma and a single bump of a molar for Logan. Sloooooow to teethe. They do like to have them brushed with a finger brush, so that's good. They line up very nicely and take turns. I don't know why they like the finger brush over a regular toothbrush, but I'm willing to roll with it. Besides, this way I can count all of the teeth they do have.

I seem to have turned them into movie junkies in my desperate bid to get stuff done around the house. Now when they wake up from naps, the first thing they do is ask for Moo-mees. Sounds kinda close to Mommy, which is a little confusing for me. Often I agree that yes, I am the Mommy and they get frustrated and start pointing to the computer and say it louder and slower: Mooooo-meeee. Clearly that thing where we talk louder and slower when dealing with idiots and those that don't speak out language goes deeper than we thought. Gah!

Hey, guess what I learned today?

Taking twins to the library alone is a good way to potentially get kicked out. I took them to the kids section first and after saying hello to the fishies, took them with me up to the adults section (Not that adult section. I was trying to find something interesting to read. No, really.) and they immediately split up and took off on me.
Oooh! Pretty!

It was almost as if they'd watched a whole series of movies where the kids go into Mayhem Mode when they started pulling books of the shelves at random, running in and out of study rooms and running up and down the aisles, laughing. For that last part, I had Emma in hand and kept trying to catch up to Logan without calling for him and yet he managed to keep staying an aisle ahead of me. It was pretty funny, but I was worried the adults around us would get quickly irritated with our shenanigans, so we left pretty quickly. I guess it's back to ordering from the online library service. Siiiigh.

Maybe leashes aren't such a bad idea.

In other news, we're all looking forward to Caitlin getting home. I'm pretty certain the twins are going to completely Freak. Out. when they see her. I bet she'll like that. I know I would. Of course, I will probably freak out when I see her, too. I suspect I'll hug her so hard her head will pop off. Maybe I should bring some Super Glue with me to the airport on Saturday Sunday? Something to think about.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

It's summer and the zucchini is multiplying more rapidly than you can eat it. You've had several (dozen) side dishes of sauteed zukes and you're getting tired of it. It must be time for something different.

Since I waited one day too many to collect a ripening zuke off my two - count 'em: two - zuke bushes*, one zuke went from 10 oz to 24 oz in one night. Or maybe it was two nights, but it was fast. What are you going to do with such a big honker? Well, you could stuff it and grill it, but note the title of the post: Chocolate Zucchini Bread. That means I was planning on baking it.

First, however, I needed a recipe. I had an old one I had used in years past, but the last time I made it I didn't like it as well. Something about all of that vegetable oil just didn't strike me as appealing. Instead, I turned to the Big Book o' Food (Cook' Illustrated The Best New Recipe Cookbook) and modified their recipe for a fantastic and simple zucchini bread. Theirs, you see, didn't involve chocolate at all.

Something about being purists, they wanted the focus on the zukes. Meh.

Don't get me wrong, I've made that recipe and it's wonderful (No, really!), but I wanted to try my hand at turning it into a chocolate recipe while still keeping it yummy. So that instead of this:
Yummy lemon infused zucchini bread.
You'd have this:
Kick ass double chocolate zucchini bread.

Ready? Here we go!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 3/4 c (8.75 oz) all purpose flour
1 lb zucchini, ends and stems removed (cut in half lengthwise, scrape out seeds with a spoon if you're using a mondo zuke)
3/4 c + 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c plain yogurt (I used sort of a "rounded" 1/4 measure to get a little extra in there since I was going to lose the 1 tbsp liquid from the lemon juice in the original recipe. I know, it's not a scientific measure. Fake it.)
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz chopped good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (or chips, if that's your thing)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 c Dutch processed cocoa powder

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with an oven rack in the middle position. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.
  2. Break out your food processor (If you don't have one, you can grate the zuke by hand with a box grater and toss it with the 2 tbsp of sugar.), cut the zuke to pieces that will fit in your feed tube and process zuke with 2 tbsp of sugar until the zuke is coarsely shredded. (They used the metal blade, I used the shredder blade. If using the normal metal blade, cut the zuke into 1" sections and pulse in 15 second bursts.) Transfer the mix to a strainer set over a bowl and drain zuke for 30 minutes. (Make sure the bowl isn't so shallow that the zuke isn't draining but is instead soaking in its own juices. Not the same thing, at all! Drainage! We want drainage to get rid of the excess moisture in the zuke or you're going to have squishy bread. You don't want squishy bread, do you?)
  3. You can add nuts to this, if you'd like. I skipped it since Logan doesn't seem to like them, while Emma does. This is the point where you would toast either 1/2 c of coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts until fragrant and then allow to cool.
  4. Melt your 6 tbsp of butter and add 1/4 c of cocoa. Stir until combined and set aside to cool. (Here we're letting the butter "bloom" the flavor of the chocolate powder. Yeah, I've been reading too many recipes, but see? I learned something!)
  5. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and chopped chocolate.
  6. Whisk together remaining 1/2 c plus 3 tbsp sugar, yogurt, eggs, vanilla and melted butter mixture.
  7. After the zucchini has drained (Isn't that cool? There's almost 1/2 c of green liquid in that bowl! You could probably drink it....), squeeze the zucchini with several layers of paper towels or a clean tea towel to remove excess moisture. (Mmmm! Squishy!) Stir the zuke and the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the surface with your spatula.
Gloppy. Don't be scared by its looks!
  1. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes, rotating your pan halfway through the baking time. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing. You want to give the bread a chance to firm up, here. Trust me, it's worth the wait.

Pretty. Yummy. Sort of healthy!

Give it a whirl and tell me what you think! In case you're wondering, the twins (and Eric and I), love it. Yum!

* Never ever ever plant more than 2 zucchini bushes unless you either a) have a very large family that likes zucchini or b) plan on feeding it to your neighborhood or c) run a farm.

Trust me on this. Zukes are possibly the easiest plant to grow in the vegetable garden and one of the fastest and most prolific. Note that I put the zukes in the ground at the same time as the tomatoes, winter squash and green beans, but I've been eating zukes for weeks and haven't had a single tomato, green bean or winter squash. Yet.

All in good time, my pretties!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kitchen Confessions

I don't do well with children in the kitchen.

I'm not the mom that loves to have all of those little hands "helping" with every meal. If I had my choice, I'd have some magical way of keeping the twins, their toys, blankets, cups and door banging/spice throwing hands out of the kitchen all the time. I'd put up gates, but there would be The Screaming and that's not exactly an improvement. Besides, babies - like cats - are forever on the wrong side of any door, gate or fence you put them on.

Now some of you are horrified and aghast that I would make such a suggestion, while others (I know you're out there!) are nodding your heads in agreement.

Cooking at this point in my life, is a hobby* (I don't get out much, really.). It's something I like to do and I like to do it well. This comes in direct conflict with having children in the kitchen, most likely because my concentration is constantly broken. Also, my memory is short and shot full of holes probably because it is now filled with 3 children's worth of baby information (weight at birth: 6 lb 14 oz, 6 lb 10 oz, 6 lb 14 oz; eye color: green, blue, brown; hair color: auburn, light brown, dark brown; birth times: 1:07 am, 8:26 am, 8:28 am), likes and dislikes (too long to list). There's very little room for "new" temporary pieces of information. So when I'm measuring and pouring, it's really important to know just how much salt I've just put in the pancakes/cake/bread/soup. Was that one teaspoon? Did I already put it in? Have I not put it in yet? Crap!

Since I cook around 3 times per day, that's a lot of work to have constantly interrupted with whining, crying, yelling, screaming, mysterious crashing noises from the other room or being grabbed around the knees and shoved. The babies: they are distracting.

So you'll have to forgive me for not appreciating time with the short people in the kitchen. I can wait until they're 8. Or, you know, 12. I'm not picky.

* Sitting in front of me on my desk are printouts for homemade marshmallows, Greek seasoning mix, and dulce de leche. I bet if I looked through the pile to my right, there'd be even more. It's not just a hobby, it's an obsession!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Caitlin's Big Adenture: The Week in Review

Or how to overcome your homesickness and have a helluva good time.

Saturday: jump on a wolf plane,
arrive late at night with your uncle,
eat NY pizza (Good grief! Why is it square?! By all that's holy, NY pizza is SQUARE now?)
and drink a Shirley Temple.
In NY only a few hours and she's already boozin' it up. I have no idea how she's going to behave when she gets home and is cut off from the constant sugar mainlining that seems to be taking place.

Sunday: spend some time cooling her heels in church with uncle Matt,
listening to Aunt Dawn

sing with the choir. (Not a euphemism for getting a bad case of dead: Dawn is actually in a choir in which there is singing.) Then it's off to the NY aquarium!
Lolrus alert! "Does this camera angle make me look fat?"

Caitlin discovers a riding walrus.

Sunday night: one very intense, horribly homesick phonecall. Mom and dad soothe, soothe, soothe via phone. Caitlin feels better.

Monday: Coney Island! Where she did not try a snack of crispy fried frog's legs, although I did encourage her to ask for them. No, seriously! She did, however, get to try blue cotton candy and didn't like it. Hah! Turns out she was a few inches too short to ride The Cyclone, Caitlin made do with the kiddie rides (and a new sweater, I note).
And scored a Harley.

Apparently Dawn screamed like a little girl on one of those kiddie rides that she shared with Caitlin as they went spinning off into infinity.

Monday night: Caitlin cons uncle Matt into telling her a bedtime story that he has to make up on the spot. Uncle Matt is now firmly under the spell of Princess Charming.

Tuesday: A brunch trip to The American Girl Place on Fifth Avenue!
Where she spent her very own money!
After that, they trundled off to FAO Schwartz, where Caitlin approved of the Lego displays.
Then a trip to the Central Park Zoo where she posed with the Statue of Liberty.

Wednesday - Saturday: Hand-off to Cousin Janet who nearly dies from the Awesomeness that is Caitlin. First tomato crop goes to Caitlin!
Meeting 2nd cousin Matt.
Snuggling with Great Aunt Lenore.

A trip to the Bronx Zoo, a little face painting and an ice cream cone.

Caitlin is guarded at night by a cheetah

and Lexie the dog.
I feel certain I am never going to stop hearing about how we should get a dog once Caitlin gets back home. Ruh-roh!

Sunday: head to Canada where today she's off whale watching. I'm looking forward to those pictures!

Nice vacation, huh?

Friday, July 17, 2009

The tastiness of the few or the one does not outweigh the tastiness of the many

Or in other words: I had to rip a tomato plant out because it was...diseased.

Makes me sad. Also, it continues to impress upon me just why it is that having air circulation around tomato plants is key. Personally, I'm blaming the rainy weather we had all through June for this death, since this is a plant that was open on 2 other sides.


In other veggie news, we've been eating zucchini and straightneck yellow squash for days now and it's still not getting old. I even forgot about a zuke for an extra day or two and despite its hugeness, it had a place in my kitchen as zucchini bread. Since Caitlin is out of town, I went crazy and added walnuts to it. Wouldn't you know it? The twins loved it and aren't showing any allergic reactions to either peanut butter or walnuts.

We had our first pesto of the seaon two days ago and I must say: yum! I started looking around for crackers to put it on and am now considering baking my own crackers. Apparently they're supposed to be even easier than bread. Who knew? If anyone has a recipe for a Carr's whole wheat cracker-type cracker, let me know. I love those buggers to little bits and I'd love to be able to duplicate it in my kitchen.

Still waiting on the corn, beans and tomatoes. They're growing oh-so-slowly out there. However, the lettuces look like they're trying to bolt, so I guess we'd better get into salad eating mode.

How go things in your gardens? Make anything yummy recently?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Swimsuit Season

How many swimsuits do you own? I have about 5 that are lounging about in my dresser drawer. I wear one of them the most and a second one when I can't find the first one. The others? They're all waiting for me to get back into shape.

One of the five was an emergency purchase - I was about to go swimming somewhere or the other and had forgotten my suit, so I had to take what was available. It is, understandably enough, ugly. Another one, I bought on a business trip many years ago because I didn't realize that Texas really was that frickin' hot in March. Swimming in March? The thought never crossed my mind until I was stranded in a burningly hot TX without a suit.

The one I wear the most often is the "mom" swimsuit. It's boring. Black. Hopefully it provides enough coverage to leave me less embarrassed than I might otherwise be out in public mostly undressed. You know the suit I'm talking about, right? The one that you buy when your body stops being all lithe and pert. When you no longer want to draw attention to yourself and instead just want to fade into the background.

The other two are my favorites, of course. The two I can no longer wear? The ones that scream: "Woo! I'm swimmin' over heah!" I'm out of shape. I've had 3 children since I last wore those suits. Part of me thinks I should just give up on them and give them away.

Another part of me sees them as a challenge.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed an ad about the 30 day challenge a number of bloggers were taking up as part of a review of some video game for the Wii. Not having a Wii, I didn't really care, but the little blurbs that were written about those bloggers piqued my interest. Since the twins were napping, I read through the reviews. All of them.

I was sold.

My biggest complaint about getting out of the house is all about timing. I have to time everything just right so that the twins (or Caitlin when she's in town) aren't over tired or hungry or crabby when I want to get out and do something. Be it shopping, running errands, doctor's appointments or just going to the park, there's a very small window of opportunity that I have to hit just right. Some days it just doesn't seem worth the commotion it takes to get all four (or 5 if Eric's around) of us out of the house. Unsurprisingly enough, this leaves me without any "me" time. You can imagine what kind of shape I'm in since I'm also not farming this year (that's just a long sad story). So, to read about all of these other ladies that were working out in their living rooms, having a good time while doing it and getting in shape? Count me in!

Since I hadn't bought a new lens for my camera as I'd intended this year, I still had my birthday money slowly burning a hole in my bank account. I had Eric do the research to get a good price and we bought the Wii and, most importantly, the EA Sports Active program. And!

I'm not kidding, as goofy as it seems to run in place in your living room, watching your Sim and your virtual trainer, it really works. You sweat, you run, you curl your biceps and play virtual tennis (a sport at which I virtually excel). I discovered very quickly that my legs aren't in near as good condition as my arms. Makes sense, though, when you think about it. I heft a pair of ~20 lb twins all day long, so doing a few dozen bicep curls is no big deal. The running, however, kills me. I sound like a train huffing up a giant hill in the mountains. A wounded train. The first two days showed me that I don't squat nearly as much as I think I do while cleaning up and left me sore for the next 3 days.

It was a good kind of sore. And that was on easy mode.

Now? After the first week, I ramped up to medium and bought a 3 pack of resistance bands to make the exercises more challenging. I still can't run worth a damn and my ankle is complaining (the ankle I hurt when I fell off Misty's roof twisted my ankle on the roof stairs almost fell off Misty's roof and came this close to smashing my camera four years ago) on a daily basis, but...!


While my weight hasn't gone down (yet) and instead has risen (muscle still weighs more than fat, y'all) my body fat percentage has dropped 3%. In two weeks. Woo!

That is progress I can get behind.

it's been fun. I'm halfway through my 30 day challenge and I've completed 11/20 workouts (it has scheduled rest days after every two workouts). It hasn't been easy, but it has been fun and somewhat addictive. I've been drinking a boatload more water, too. The best part is the fact that it's actually having a measurable effect and it's something I can do while the twins are sleeping. To be honest, I don't really care about the number on the scale, I care about how I fit in my clothes and whether parts of me are wiggling when I don't want them to. It's about me getting back into a shape I like and setting reasonable goals for myself. Reasonable like this:
  • Short term goal: fit comfortably into my "normal" clothes
  • Mid term goal: fit into my "skinny me" clothes
  • Long term goal: fit into my favorite swimsuits
  • Even longer term goal: buy new clothes for the new normal, fit version of me and stay that way, dammit!
While I know that it's going to take more than 30 days to get me back into my favorite swimsuits, I'm know that I'm up to the challenge.

How about you? What do you do to get into shape?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Caitlin's Big Adenture: Blast Off!

Caitlin left on Saturday afternoon, in the kindly care of her Uncle Ian. He and I don't always get along, but I can't tell you how much it meant to me that he jumped up and flew to NY with her just because it was the right thing to do. The cockles of my heart were appropriately warmed.


Since we had plenty of time, we spent a leisurely morning getting ready. There was some tickling,

some smooching,

some smooch withholding,

and some crazy faces.

In the end, however, someone was getting on an airplane and that someone wasn't going to be me. So we packed up this girl

and her gear and drove her to the airport.

We chatted about all the fun things she'd be doing while we were at home with the twins (Zoo trips! BBQs! Acquariums! Amusement parks!) and I did a pretty good job of keeping my tone light and happy.

However...when the time came to hug her and send her through security, I had a hard time letting go. Tears filled my eyes and love/fear/worry/happiness squeezed my heart as I hugged Caitlin one last time. I kissed her and with a throaty "I love you!", I sent her off while stuffing down the tears. I didn't want her to see me visibly upset and start off a firestorm of crying on her part.

Blinking rapidly, I took Emma back from Ian (both babies wanted to check out the weather from his lofty height) and sent her on her way.

While she has been away from home before, and for several weeks at a time, she's never been this far away from us. It was tough. Even though the possibility of something happening to her is remote, somehow letting her go that far away makes everything feel more momentous. As if every moment is a potential "last". As hard as it is being a parent, I think the "growing up" moments are harder emotionally than the fights. Each step forward towards independence is yet another step away from us and the relative safety of childhood.

Even as I recognize its inevitability, it's hard on the heartstrings. My baby isn't really a baby any more. She's an intrepid traveler and her adventure is just beginning.

All systems go for launch!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Caitlin's Big Adenture: T minus 3 Days

Caitlin will be heading off for her three week long Hatchet family tour on Saturday.

I'm looking forward to it.

She's looking forward to it.

My relatives are looking forward to it.

Now to make it to Saturday...that's the trick.

We actually had a really good week this past week, but she's suddenly reverted to whining and complaining and foot stomping within the last two days. Since I'm currently sick and have lost my voice, all I can do is growl menacingly or clap my hands to get her attention.

Yeah, it's very effective, lemme tell ya.

Saturday. Woo!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Veggie Garden Update

Looks like it may finally be summer around here. We'd spent most of May and early June being cold and rainy - unseasonably so. Now it's crazy stormy weather (migraine inducing weather) and hot. The vegetable garden is finally producing



The squash forest, v 2.0.

straightneck yellow squash and zucchini.

It seems that I pop out there every other day or so (in between torrential downpours) and check in on the current growth of the plants and weeds. So far, the plants are winning, but the weeds are giving it a real go. (Just don't ask me about my flower gardens, because I just don't have the time/energy for them this year. I'm gonna have to suck it up at some point and get in there with a...hatchet, but not right yet.)

The corn is getting taller, which is gratifying. My green beans are still working out technical issues. Most of my first planting didn't seem to sprout - probably because it was too chilly. Now I'm debating whether I should sow another set.

Oh, I also learned that once you plant tomatillos, you never have to plant them again! I had all manner of tomatillo plants popping up all over, and ripped them out. I'm still ripping them out, since they keep showing up all over the place. I let 3 remain at the base of the corn bed and that should be plenty.

In Tomatoville, I find that if I don't get out there at least every other day, the tiny secondary sprouts that show up between main stem and branches get big really, really fast. So it's pinch! pinch! pinch! and tie! tie! tie! I learned from last year that I have to keep tying the plants up and pinching back the excessive growth to keep them in check.

So far, this is working like a charm.

I've been checking in on the Black Krim and the two tomatoes on there so far are now the size of a quarter (by the end of the day, the size of a half dollar) and growing quickly. I think keeping the number of tomato plants down to a more reasonable ten has made a big difference, as well as just having them all in one bed without anything else (well, except for that volunteer potato - but that wasn't my fault, per se.). I'm feeling pretty confident that I could reach in and grab tomatoes from the middle. At least, I could at the moment - if there were some in there. Ask me again in August when I forget to check in for 3 or 4 days and then we'll see how easy it is.

The tomato-in-a-pot is doing well, too. This is my experimental tomato plant. Can I grow a full sized, indeterminate Cherokee Purple tomato in a 24" pot? Let's find out!

In bell pepper land, I still had some space, so I shoved in 5 more bell pepper plants. I may come to regret this later when they're all full sized, but it's hard to just let them die on my deck! This morning, I even popped two more into a pot that looked a little empty, so we'll see how that goes, too.

Oh, I learned a little something about lettuce this year: you can never wash lettuce enough.

Once? Laughable. Twice? Not nearly enough. Thrice? You might be getting serious about it at this point. Four times? Quite possibly enough, but you'd better double check every. single. solitary. leaf. because one caterpillar/maggot/creepy crawler on your plate is one waaaaay too many.

Trust me.

I don't spray and I don't have superfine row cover, so insects are inevitable. However, once they cross my threshold and hang on through three separate washes and still make it past the "final" inspection and wind up with dressing on them? Well...that's just freaky. Plus, it makes me sad to toss a perfectly yummy salad, complete with bell peppers and strawberries into the compost bin.

Ah well. Live, learn and garden!

How are your gardens doing?
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