Monday, April 30, 2012

Short-Lived Beauties

A few weeks ago, the entrance to our local YMCA was full of beautiful light pink and white blooms. This was during an unusually warm stretch of nigh 70-degree weather

IMG_0445It was really  beautiful to be greeted by this flowering tree. Because of its colorful and conspicuous flowers, landscape designers use this tree extensively as an ornamental.

YMCA collage1I’m not sure about the correct name of this tree, but heard it called either a Saucer Magnolia or Tulip Magnolia. An online source stated that the Saucer Magnolia is a multi-stemmed, spreading tree, 25 ft. tall with a 20 to 30-ft. spread. Blooms open in late winter to early spring often before the leaves, producing large, white flowers shaded in pink, creating a spectacular flower display.

YMCA collageYMCA collage2Other sources indicated that the plant was native to southwest China  but cultivated for centuries elsewhere in China and then Japan. It was first introduced to English-speaking countries from cultivated Japanese origins. For this reason, it’s sometimes referred to as Japanese Magnolia, although it’s not native to Japan.

Spectacular as these blooms were, they were also gone within a week, especially after an overnight rain storm knocked off many of the delicate blooms.

YMCA collage3That same week, when visiting our county library, there were two similar trees in full bloom – more local beauty to enjoy, however briefly.

library blooms

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Funnies

Really stacked . . .

stackedWood would you think so too?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What’s in the Garden?

Veggie gardens are already planted at The Frog & PenguINN. We’ve already had some fresh veggies too.

If you’re wondering what’s ready to harvest now – it’s the asparagus that Grenville planted 3 years ago. The output isn’t large, but it’s been enough for us when sautéed and used in omelets or added to pasta that also includes basil pesto that was made from last year’s crop and frozen.

asparagus collageVery soon we’ll have plenty of fresh strawberries for use in breakfast smoothies. Grenville’s already thinking about that strawberry pie recipe he saw in Cook’s Illustrated. Last year we froze a lot of the strawberry crop – this year we’re eating them FRESH.

strawberry collageThe frozen ones looked great after being frozen in single layers on baking sheets and then put in containers. But, after being defrosted this year, they were as mushy as the grocery store ones; still good, but not as good as fresh-picked. We’re going to enjoy this year’s harvest THIS year.

veggie garden0513This is an overview of last year’s veggie garden after prepping. It was quite large. Now, here’s this year’s downsized version that’s in the footprint of the greenhouse that was sold in Feb. Grenville planted a couple of tomato plants, several peppers, and cukes. Beans were planted from seed.

garden overviewForgot to post these earlier, but the orchard is doing well and the apple and pear trees were in full bloom a few weeks ago. The pear tree had never produced well, but the apple tree harvest should make for some delicious apple pies . . . Grenville is hoping.

apple bloomspear bloomsIf you’ve planted, WHAT’S growing in your gardens ?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grand Bargains

These items are GRAND for a couple of reasons.

FIRST are the prices – a pair of swim trunks, shorts and t-shirt – total cost $4. These “branded” clothing items would have cost several times that amount when purchased new. And these were in “like new” condition. What’s more, the t-shirt “talks” when the square on the lower left is pressed, even after a spin in the washer and dryer. We just know his mother will love that sound after awhile. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear it’s mysteriously stopped working.

SECOND it’s such fun to spoil grandchildren.

Grandson is a Sponge Bob fan (as you can tell) and lately has started favoring Spiderman. Maybe he won’t be seen in these those camouflage Spiderman shorts.thrift finds (5)

Granddaughter will really be in the pink in this ensemble as daddy’s favorite little girl.

thrift finds (4)

These were definite thrift store bargains. While the cost of mailing them was just about the same as buying them, it doesn’t matter cause . . . It’s such fun to spoil grandchildren especially at these prices !

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pea Soup Kind of Weekend

YUP that’s what it was here at The Frog & PenguINN and pretty much a rain event all along the U.S. east coast. An April nor'easter dumped about 3 inches of soaking rains in these parts. Some states even got a bit of snow, but we only had the rain and wind gusts.

pollen patterns (5)The good news – besides the fact that we reallyyoung pine cones (4) needed the rain is that it’s expected to lower the pollen count. That makes me and lots of other allergy-affected folks very glad.

Besides, it made staying indoors on the weekend a very comfortable place to be.

The heaviest rains came all day Sunday making it the perfect day to make a crock pot of split pea soup sinceIMG_1666 we already had a ham bone in the freezer. I’ve made this soup many times on the stovetop, but this was the first time doing it in the slow cooker.  We enjoyed a bowlful with a loaf of bread that Grenville made. He wasn’t pleased with the way it came out, but it was wonderful with the pea soup.

This soup is so easy to prepare and you might already have everything that’s needed. No ham? No problem, just skip it and make this a vegetarian meal,  And, no bread is no problem either as crackers or croutons work great too.

Crockpot Split Pea Soup

  • 16-oz. pkge dried green split peas, rinsed.soaked overnite
  • Meaty ham bone OR 2 ham hocks OR 2 cups diced ham
  • 1 C  sliced baby carrots
  • 1 C  chopped yellow onion
  • 2 ribs celery plus leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 C low-sodium chicken broth
  1. Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given, adding the broth last. Do not stir ingredients.
  2. Cover and cook high 4 to 5 hours or low 8 to 10 hours until peas are soft and ham falls off the bone. If you have an immersion blender, you can puree the soup until smooth. (You could use a blender, but this would be a very messy process.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Funnies

Home Depot (and others) try to discourage nesting birds by various means – often it does little goodnursery (3)

Maybe the sign attracted this bird family?nursery (1)


Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Long is a Lifetime Guarantee?

Not more than 3 years we found out today.
WHAT ???
Our words – and a few more – today when we found out that the supposedly Lifetime Guarantee for the $$$$ texturized paint coating we paid for in 2005 expired in 2008 for purposes of transferring to a new owner – or good for 3 years.

NO, we haven’t sold The Frog & PenguINN. But, we’re planning to list it by next week, and met with a prospective listing realtor this week. After a walk through the house, she was impressed with all the de-cluttering we’ve done and said she “expected the house to show well.”
WOW that was great news to hear so we discussed some of our “selling points” – besides imagesthe fact that Grenville & Beatrice lived here, of course. A big one (we thought) was that the textured coating came with a Lifetime Guarantee that would transfer to a new owner. Per that paperwork, the manufacturer would repair any cracks or failings in the coatings using a contracting company. The closest one to us was in  Richmond, VA. And we had to contact them twice to have some repairs done, but it was NOT an east process. The second time it took over 6 months cause there was always some excuses offered from not being able to get a crew together to not being able to get enough of the product.
bad news
TODAY, we also learned that contractor went out of business in 2011. That’s when we called directly to the manufacturing company’s customer service dept. (Florida) and heard about the 3-year Lifetime Guarantee. Maybe guarantees should come in choices like these . . .
multiple guarantees 
WAIT if we were not planning to sell the house, the company maybe could work with us under the Lifetime Guarantee. Since that’s NOT happening, we’re taking it off our selling points.They come in all sizes, shapes and colors . . .

But, DO NOT last a lifetime . . .warranty2

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kitchen Oldies but Goodies

We do a fair amount of crock pot cooking, more so in cooler weather than warmer. Lately, I’ve been looking through our slow cooker books for year-round recipe ideas.

One of the our most interesting  books is one that Grenville gave me for Christmas present. 

It’s not a large book nor does it have a lot of recipes. What is DOES have are classic ads for products and appliances that were, of course, WAY WAY before my time (really). Many of these companies are long since gone, but their advertisements were quite interesting.
IMG_9396There was some online information online about this pressure cooker, but very little for the company itself. On a site that listed various makers/models of pressure cookers, this one was shown as being out of business. The time period is the mid-1940s.
A search for Roastwell was more successful.  The first factory was created by Ulysses Grant Fletcher (on right) and was located in Anderson, IN from 1909-1914. In 1887 natural gas was discovered in Anderson and soon afterwards, several factories and industries that could use natural gas began to locate there overnight.  But, the gas ran out in 1912, many factories left and the city’s growth spurt stopped.

In 1914, the Fletcher Enamel Factory shut down, relocating to  Dunbar, W VA, and starting another factory in 1916. According to a 1943 newspaper article, Fletcher Enamel Company produces a large percentage of the enameled ware used by American and Canadian housewives. The company is equipped to produce more than 268 items. It normally employs an average of 650 persons. The peak production ranges between 20,000 and 30,000 assorted pieces of enameled ware per day.

The company remained a family-run business, but closed down in 1958. During WW II, the company added a “shell shop” which made 60mm shells under a federal contract.
Karo Syrups are the only corn syrup products that are available across the entire US. They're used as toppings for French toast, pancakes and waffles, and in recipes for pies, candies, glazes, sauces, beverages, ice creams.  In the 1930s, the wife of a corporate sales executive mixed corn syrup, sugar, eggs, vanilla and pecans baked in a pie shell to produce the now classic Pecan Pie. In many parts of the South, the recipe continues to be called Karo Pie

Karo Syrup began in 1902 when the Corn Products Refining Company of New York and Chicago formed then introduced Karo Light and Dark Corn Syrup. It’s believed that the chemist and expert syrup formulator coined the name “Karo” after his wife, Caroline. Another theory traces the name Karo back to an earlier table syrup trademark “Kairomel.” Until the introduction of Karo corn syrups, the American housewives carried a syrup jug to the grocery store to be refilled from the grocer’s barrels of syrup.

In 1903, it was sold in “friction-top tins” and advertised as “The Great Spread for Daily Bread.” In full page advertisements appearing in the Ladies Home Journal, it was said that the new table syrup had found “great favor with particular tastes, and was a table delight, appreciated morning, noon or night.” The full-page advertisement offered 11 recipes and a cookbook to all who wrote to the company.
Per Wikipedia: corn syrup is a food syrup, which is made from the starch of maize and contains varying amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides, depending on the grade. Corn syrup is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor. It differs from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is created when corn syrup undergoes enzymatic processing, producing a sweeter compound that contains higher levels of fructose.
IMG_9421This Savory roaster was made by the Republic Metalware Company of Buffalo NY in the early 1900s and was quite popular. According to a home furnishings publication of that era: The sale of the roaster has been so enormous during the past year that there is not a housewife from Maine to California who does not know of these roasters.
Crosley Corp. manufactured these freezers in the late 1940s. The company, based in Cincinnati, OH, was headed by Powel Crosley, Jr., who is credited with pioneering the ideal of affordable radios, appliances and other housewares. Crosley Radio Corporation was once the largest manufacturer of table-top radios in the US.

The original company has long since ceased operations. But, in  1976, the Crosley Corporation formed in Winston-Salem, NC when a group of independently owned distributors resurrected the Crosley trade name and introduced a line of household appliances. Per its website: Crosley Corporation is a non-profit organization that helps independent distributors and retailers compete in today's marketplace with quality appliances at affordable prices. Appliances are manufactured by world class corporations, built to Crosley specifications, and available exclusively through independent appliance retailers.

More of these ads in future posts.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Earlier This Week . . .

We were stuck in a day-long series of traffic jams travelling from Cranston, RI to Manheim, PA to the last family visit of our Easter road trip, . Grenville told about it ranted in an earlier post. Thankfully, to sustain us we had the memories of a wonderful grand Easter visit  and a package of candy from Grenville’s aunt.

Here’s a visual of the traffic jam as we approached the GW Bridge. Notice the speed limit posting vs. the actual speedometer reading – 45 mph would have been like speeding in this jam.

traffic collage1After all the day’s traffic frustrations, we arrived in PA and ended our seemingly endless day with these beautiful sunsets . . .

sunset collage1

sunset collage2Things were better as we were leaving PA and drove through some scenic farmlands in Lancaster County.PA barn collage1When this lone tree and distant barn caught my attention, I shot it in landscape and portrait modes with selected coloration and semi-B&W. All were done straight in the Canon PowerShot S130 camera with no additional digital editing . ..

farms041112 (18)misc collageSeeing these beautiful sights after a frustrating early start, and a great visit with fellow blogger Doris/Fun Fahn Times (who also likes Panera Bread stops) reminded us that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff – even traffic tie-ups.

But just to be on the safe side next time we travel this route, we’re avoiding the George Washington Bridge and taking the Tappan Zee instead – no matter WHAT the GPS suggests – cause it’s not driving the route.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Funnies


We don’t have paid subscription services such as cable, dish or satellite at The Frog & PenguINN  by choice. But that doesn’t matter cause while walking around a Lancaster, PA mall we found this AS SEEN ON TV store. It was FULL of all STUFF we we were missing out on ! We managed to get outta there without spending a cent. Later, when we stopped at a Staples store in Salisbury, MD we got another chance . . .

seen on TV collageAgain, we escaped – and when we collected our mail we found that Publisher’s Clearing was giving us another chance for MORE perfectly useless STUFF . . .

seen on TV collage2Wondering WHO buys this STUFF – have any of you?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Travels

IMG_0972We had a fun-filled Easter road trip (visiting family. After a week of travelling, we’re back home. 

It was great to see family, especially grandkids.

Grenville has been posting on our travels. I waited until we were back home because the iPad doesn’t easily allow adding photos and making collages. So, without further ado – here are the grandkids.

At nearly 9 months old, granddaughter is a real charmer who likes to laugh and babble. Of course, we pretend to understand everything she’s saying. Ellie Collage1

Bobby collage2Grandson likes tractors (green, of course) and toy cars and trucks of any color. One of his holiday specialties is making chocolate chip pancakes with grandpa's help.

pancake collage

Easter egg coloring was a highlight of our visit and grandson is quite an expert.

egg coloring collage

They're great grandkids and we'll see them again in May at their aunt’s wedding.

Bobby-Ellie0412 (2)
One of their favorite toys is a penguin !