Hobnobs, Never Gyp the Wait Staff, and Veggie Garden

We visited mom today, and took her grocery shopping after the thunderstorms broke.  She had her list.  I also wanted to get a few items while I was there that we can find around here, but not at Aldi, so in order to get them, we would have had to make a separate trip.  Might as well get them while we were there.  I found a sleeve of McVitie’s Hobnobs.  Although I almost never buy cookies, because most that I like, with the exception of Florentines, are so easy to make from scratch.  I’ll make an exception for Florentines, and Hobnobs, as a rare treat; I could not bake either one at home.

 

Although we haven’t done this in a while, we used to go out to our favorite pub for dinner after visiting mom.  We did so tonight.  Didn’t get our favorite waitress, who has been there since the beginning, but we got a really good one who had waited our table before.  Here’s my viewpoint on tipping, in the NE United States, anyway.  If the total cost of the meal isn’t that much ($24, for a huge plate of nachos and four draft beers is fairly typical for us), tip at least $3/person; if it’s an expensive meal at a really chi-chi place, stick closer to the 15% norm.  That way, if you want to become “regulars,” nobody is going to groan that you got seated at their table, or give you crappy service.

Tonight, we ordered an inexpensive meal, and I really wanted the two pint glasses in which we were served our brewskis, so I asked our waitress if I could buy them.  They were from River Horse Brewery in Ewing, NJ, and had an angry looking hippo for a logo.  This particular pub will sell the pint glasses, if a customer asks.  Some will; some won’t.  The cost may vary.  This time, we were charged $1 apiece, which she added to our bill.  If you order pint glasses directly from whatever brewery, the going rate is $5 apiece, plus shipping.  Our waitress even offered to go fetch us two clean ones, but I told her there’s no need; we’ll rinse them out when we get home, and run them through the dishwasher.  We would have left her the same good tip if the answer had been “No, I’m sorry we can’t sell them.”  Ask, and you might get; don’t ask, and you won’t get.  Right?

Pubs get cases of logo pint glasses for free from breweries, as promotions.  As long as more promotional glasses come in, they have nothing to lose by selling a few to customers, even if it’s for a paltry amount.  We’ve built up quite a large collection of pint glasses this way, plus added some Stella Artois gold rimmed glasses, and a few pilsener glasses via either free promos, or buy a 12-pack, and get one promos.

On to the veggie garden!  We’re getting jalapeños, cayennes, yellow straightneck squash, zucchinis, Kentucky Wonder pole beans, and Blue Lake bush beans, all ready for the picking.  What’s coming in big and strong, but are not yet ready for the picking are tomatoes, hard squash, and Tuscan-type hybrid melons.  The heirloom varieties look really good this year — so far.  Fingers crossed.

Hickory Horned Devil

I should probably add this baby to a gallery for my orchids and gardening website, but for now, I’ll just post it here.  We found this hickory horned devil at the base of our huge ash tree.  It’s stage 5-instar, so it was probably looking to burrow into the ground to pupate for the winter.  Yes, we put it back where we found it, after I took its picture.

That caterpillar makes my middle finger look shrimpy.  Supposedly, the Regal Moth has a wingspan of 4-6″, which is about what I’m used to seeing with the bats that come out to feed shortly after dusk.  Not the best picture, given that I took it indoors with flash.  It’s a pretty fierce looking thing with a body that’s pastel blue-green, and a bunch of horns, but they’re harmless.  The ash can easily withstand having a branch or two defoliated.

Garden Harvest

This time of year, harvesting the fruits and veggies is a daily task.  I went out at 8 am, to do harvest duty.  I got a few peppers (yellow banana, and cayenne), two eggplants, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and another handful of Kentucky Wonder green beans.  Many more peppers can be picked any time I need them for dinner, but leaving them on the plants for another few days won’t do any harm.

Next, I dove into the wood margin, wearing long pants and a long sleeved mock turtleneck t-shirt to pick raspberries.  It’s sort of my hazmat suit, given all the poison ivy that’s in there.  I couldn’t care less about all the virginia creeper.  I only got a little over half a pint of raspberries today, but add them to the ones I snagged since Thursday, and we’re going to have a heck of a cheesecake, a few smoothies, or make jam or syrup.

Blueberry syrup is my favorite, but raspberry comes in a really close second.  Raspberry syrup on light, fluffy pancakes is divine!  A dollop of whipped cream is optional.

BTW, we have two quarts of blueberries.  They have so many possibilities.  I think a blueberry buckle is in our future.

Gas

I come from one of the only two states in the nation in which it’s illegal to pump your own gas.  I didn’t know about the little switch on the gas pump handle that makes it hold there to a faster or slower pump rate.

Pre-paying for gas was a foreign concept to me.  It is no longer.  I feel enlightened.  Why gas costs half a dollar more per gallon when you have to pump your own, rather than pull into a station at which a gas attendant does it for you, is beyond me.

“Pump number 3, $40 dollars worth.”

I was running on reserve, warning light on, and all, so I had to get gas pronto.

The good news is that on our errand run, we got a new log splitter maul that was better than the one that broke, and a couple of bags of groceries that we needed.

I swore I was going to drag S through Wegman’s one day, and I did so.  He was as awed about the place as I was.  It’s the place to go for fresh fish, and other animal flesh.  I’m a little less awed about their selection of fresh produce — they were totally out of cilantro.

Next time, maybe they will have it.  I should have grown it in my garden.

Nonesuch

Now I know why this place is so popular.  The garden center part of it is alright, for selection, and has competitive prices, but other places are probably better — Buckmann’s for instance.  The indoors, grocery part, is great for fresh produce!

I got three quarts of their own strawberries, a huge head of red leaf lettuce, two bunches of ripe tomatoes still on the vine, half a pint of crab dip, and 6 ears of corn.  I got one of those quarts of strawbs for free, as part of their sale deal, and since I’d spent $25+ at the place, I got all six ears of corn for free.

As for the gardening center part of it outside, I bought a flat of dianthus, half a flat of dark purple verbena (I would have bought a whole flat, but that’s all they had left), two tall white phloxes, two cherry tomato plants, a few canteloupe seedlings, and one cucumber seedling.

S hates cherry tomatoes.  He loves tomatoes; he just has an issue with the garden space these hog vs. larger varieties.  Too fucking bad.

Woo-hoo — Two New Galleries

. . . are available on The Orchid Place.  I have a new “Garden 2009” gallery uploaded, as well as a “Roses 2009” gallery.

I’m really beginning to love the Jalbum software I use to compile these galleries.  At least Jalbum doesn’t force me to store them on their servers and link over to them.  I compile and store them locally, modify the relevant index page footers to add my own copyright, FTP the suckers up to the right subdirectories at my web host, and bingo-bango, it all works.

For direct links to those two galleries, click on the one(s) you want to view:

Alright — enough pimping my flower porn.  Until my next batch of roses bloom over the next week or so, that is . . .

I love roses.  So, sue me.  😉

First Rose of the Year

As much as I dislike orange, this one’s not so bad.  It was just there among the foundation plantings the previous owner had.  Judging by all the other roses, some I planted, and others that were already there, it should only be another week or two before the place starts to pop with blooms.

The previous owner had a thing for hybrid teas, which are nice, but generally are hit-or-miss in terms of hardiness for this USDA zone, and some are really susceptible to black spot.  I prefer antique roses — Reines des Violettes, Cécile Brünner, Sombreuil, Grüss an Aachen, etc.  Most of the ones I like in the catalogs are mosses or gallicas.

Let’s hope the damn deer don’t get them.  A deer already munched one of the roses that had been planted perhaps a foot from the house.  The telltale sign it was a deer is the clean 45 degree angle bites, roughly waist height.  I put some wind chimes out there, after I saw that, and there hasn’t been any further damage to it.  It never should have been planted that close to the house, but it’s too well established by now to easily transplant, and this isn’t the time of year to attempt it, anyway.