Christmas in July

I have been doing volunteer work at the Chapman Historical Museum. Periodically, the volunteer coordinator has gatherings of the volunteers to have lunch or do other things not really related to Chapman.  This gathering was to do a Christmas in July for the needy and, specifically, for women. Did you know there aren’t government subsidies for feminine products? They are not covered by food stamps.  Not to mention just having to pay sales tax on them in a lot of states (although NY is soon to be joining those that don’t, thank you). Don’t even get me started on that…

Anyway, we got together to create purses filled with personal hygiene products, done with donations. We had second-hand purses that were donated from a church (which I can’t remember now), and the volunteers brought in supplies to fill them.

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We had an assortment of personal items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hand sanitizer, lotions, sanitary pads, tissues, etc.

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We then were able to fill 12 of the purses with these items.  They are going to Community Action, which is a local group that helps the disabled, income-eligible, seniors or just people in need and these will be distributed to women who need them.

This is such a great idea to do. We are going to do another one in December. The coordinator is going to check with the domestic violence safehouse liason to see if this is something they would want for the next time.

We also talked about food pantries and I didn’t realize this, but food pantries will give out not just food, but other personal items and two things they are always requesting are sanitary pads and diapers as there is such a need for that. Those are not covered for the local pantries to purchase from the regional food bank (such a complicated system), but they need them.  So the thought is that we are going to do a “pad” drive in the fall and collect these from the volunteers or anyone to distribute to the pantries.

When you are fortunate, you don’t always think about how hard just basic necessities are for some people to get.

Path riding and macarons

The warm sticky weather continues around here. Rain was predicted to start Saturday afternoon, so we decided to head out early for our ride. That meant no cupcake, but oh well 😀

We headed towards the lake after a swing by the post office. It’s nice to be able to take small packages there by bike.  We really live in a great location.

Then it was path time:

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Just about to the nice shady part.  We stopped by a little memorial:

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There is a bench here as well. Unfortunately, this young woman committed suicide and this memorial is to raise awareness for suicide and that you are not alone.

The path was pretty busy. Lots of tourists. That means you can’t really zoom down like you might otherwise because some people don’t understand path and trail rules.

On to the lake. It would be a good day to take a dip. Even though it was still morning, it was pretty warm.

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We sat in the shade and relaxed a bit.

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Our bikes took a rest, too.

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We scrapped our original planned route because of the heat and sun and went out on one of our old routes towards our previous house.  This path is mostly gravel and there was a patch were it was really loose and thick:

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That’s fishtail land, so we walked over that bit.

It’s really a beautiful path, though.

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Hot and sweaty, but happy riding.

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You can see John in my glasses!  Hi John!

We ended up with 30 miles, which was a decent ride.

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John had been out of town at the end of the week and brought home some treats, so that was what I had in place of a cuppie. These are macarons and delicious!

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A little small, though. About the size of a peppermint patty.  I had these with an icy latte.

We had huge storms come through later in the day, which brought much needed rain. It cleared up later and we were able to walk downtown for a Saturday night out.

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Very good weekend overall.

What’s Blooming!

So many blooms now! Yay!  The other evening I was out taking pictures of the front gardens. I was crouched down in the bed for macro shots and I saw a woman walking a stroller coming up the street. I said Hi as she went by and she just looked away really fast and kept walking  – and maybe a bit faster LOL! Yes, I’m creeping at my own house 😀

Here is a shot of the newest garden bed and its tiny plantings:

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I finally got some mulch down. That should help with the weeding.  There are 3 baby hyrdrangeas in this bed and then foxgloves and cardinal flower. This will look really different in a couple years, but all garden beds start somewhere.

Here is the foxglove up close:

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I love these flowers so much!

The cardinal flower:

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These are only just starting to bloom.  They attract hummingbirds and sphinx moths.

Also up front are the cosmos.  cos27-21 I must have picked up a different kind this year because these are really tall. Much taller than the ones I had last year. This one is next to my tippy pots:cos7-21

These coneflowers are right next to the above cosmos.
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Lots and lots of blooms from my seedling snapdragons.  A lot of them are white and yellow. I don’t think the parent plants were all yellow.

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When they freely seed themselves, the baby plants can be really cool colors, like this one:

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Very cool.

Around back, the sphinx moths are back on the bee balm. There was a pair of them and they will be around the rest of the summer on the nectar plants that will be coming up.

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This shot you can see the moth’s long tongue starting to unfurl:

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They are very cute, actually. And not afraid. I was 3 or 4 inches away taking pictures. It’s just super hard to focus since they move around so much!

More foxgloves out back.

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I’m finally getting the hang of editing my pictures to look better. I still use the free version of pic monkey, but it does a decent job, I think.

I’m loving the Heuchera still. The plants are bigger this year and the foliage is starting to really look nice.

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This is called Spellbound.  I think the purple leaf ones are my favorite, but maybe that’s because they are the biggest right now 😀

This is gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia).

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These actually were in the back bed when we moved in (where our water feature is now), so I moved these to another spot. I think they can be aggressive, so I will need to keep an eye on them.

I had my telephoto lens on one day hoping for bird pictures, but I decided to take flower pictures anyway. These are in my neighbor’s yard:

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The zoom lens can create some interesting backdrops.  Look at how this picture came out:

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It almost looks like a watercolor background. It’s a mash of my garden and the neighbors. I don’t know what about the zoom made it do that. Wish I did because I would like to recreate that.

Consistency and super powers

I feel like I’m being pulled in a few directions right now. There are those times where all beams cross at the same time.  One thing I do have to start doing is saying no when work calls to do extra stuff. When urgent files are needed, it seems I am the one that gets called. Probably because I always say yes. D’uh.  The next few days I am going to say no when they call. I have enough on my plate already.

When I get really busy, there are certain things that are non-negotiable. My guitar practicing suffers when I am busy. One of those non-negotiables is exercise. I need that daily to help keep my sanity and as part of self-care. It’s not always heavy duty, either. Just walking some days is fine. My phone tracks my activity. It does the steps on its own, but I have to input the biking – other than it recording it as flight climbed 😀 .  I looked at the month view and noticed quite a consistent trend in my exercise:

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That’s biking.  Pretty much the same length (1 hour) most days and then the longer rides on weekends. Then I opened up the steps as well and you can see that where the dips in biking are, the rise in steps appears.

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I laugh at the 0.2 miles today. I didn’t carry my phone around and it just sat by  my computer all day LOL. It’s nice to see the consistency here. Maybe I can stay halfway sane after all!

On to super powers. John and I were laying in bed one night, and you know how those conversations can be really interesting. John asked me what super power I would like to have. Then, of course, we had to discuss the merits and disadvantages of all of them!

Invisibility: It’s not very useful per se, and it seems that you would be more likely to use this power for bad things, like stealing.

Immortality: Is this actually a super power or just a state of being? I wouldn’t like it because you would have to watch everyone you love get old and die forever. Boo.

Flying: Good for getting places, but that’s about it. Can you take someone with you? What about luggage? And I wouldn’t want to fly in bad weather LOL!

Telekinesis:  This is the power John wants. You can do a lot of things if you can move stuff with your mind. You can help a lot of people, move debris at accident sites, stop things from happening. I do think you would need to keep the fact that you had this power under wraps because everyone would be asking you to help them move.

Mind reading:  No way. Then you would know exactly how much everybody lies to you. And it’s really only good to gain the upper hand in all situations.

I decided I would make my own super power. I’m going to call it flower power.

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I said last week that the garden was my happy place, so I would use flower power to negate the anger in the world. Sprinkle pollen or something. That would create world peace. Since many plants are also the forerunners of modern medicine, flower power can be used for healing as well! It’s the perfect super power for me.

What’s your super power?

Sundae ride!

It’s been hot and humid around here. Really humid. Even the early morning rides have been hot. I was soaked by the time I got done on Friday.  I try for an hour ride each day during the week and I’m going to have to keep pushing the ride earlier and earlier!

Saturday was a little less humid than Friday, but it was still warm. John and I were going to go for a cupcake, but then with the heat, ice cream sounded really good!  I realized that we had not been to Martha’s this season yet. That had to be rectified!

We have had enough rain to keep things green and fresh looking, other than some lawns that are looking tired. This is the nice shaded portion of the path:

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If only the whole ride was like that!  There were a fair number of people on the path as well, and someone actually hunting Pokemon. They need to get all the way off the path – bikes go really fast.

It’s high tourist season at the lake. We popped in just at the end of the  path:

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Really pretty day.  The main beaches are off to the left from here and we didn’t want to deal with the crowds.

We rested for a few minutes and then headed back onto the path towards ice cream!  Then we met a surprise visitor:

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This youngster was just grazing and looking at us. Not concerned as we snapped pictures.  Then it meandered across the path:

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Pretty unusual to see deer on the path at 3:00 in the afternoon. This deer didn’t seem the brightest bulb LOL.  Finally he said “quit taking pictures!”

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Nice treat.

Speaking of nice treats, we arrived at Martha’s!

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We each got sundaes. John got an apple pie sundae and I got the scholarship sundae, one of my favorites:

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Definitely ride worthy! Can you believe there is a size bigger than this one? That would be a gut bomb.

Martha’s is across the street from Great Escape. You can hear the people screaming on the rides.

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No thank you.

We motored home after that.  The temps were not super hot, but it felt really hot in the sun with the humidity.

Can’t have a ride without the selfie!

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Even my upper arms were sweating. Or wait – I’m dewy, right? Women don’t sweat.

Not a super long ride, but it had to be at least 25 to warrant the sundae LOL!

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Those plants in the background are part of my haul from the garden center sale this weekend. Yippee!

I had a fun surprise on Sunday. We were out at breakfast and I opened the paper to see my soap company in an ad!

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The store that carries these took out an ad.

Work has progressed on the water feature this weekend as well. Getting close to being finished. I picked up some plants to put around it.

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That will help naturalize it so it doesn’t look like the stream is just plopped in there like it does now LOL!

We still need some small filler rocks to hide parts of the liner and the spill box, but it’s very soothing to listen to already. This is the view from the patio.

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It looks like an Adirondack stream here! Our neighbors like it, too 😀  We managed to use all the rocks that I dug up last year, too. Yay!

What’s Blooming!

I think I mentioned last week that my garden is my happy place. I go out almost every day with a empty plant container and pull weeds, which actually are under very good control right now (thank you). It’s soothing to me and you get right up close to nature and see all the little things you might not notice like the ants scurrying around or a caterpillar inching it’s way around or even Mr. Toad.  I notice how the blooms change every day and it always provides me with something new and fresh to look at every time I go out there.  It’s also a good place and time to think about whatever is going on and frustrations roll away when I’m out there. Maybe the solution to world peace is gardening. It’s a common thread and creates harmony. It’s hard to hate when you are in a garden.

These are the flowers this week:

A random lily.  This is why you shouldn’t buy bulbs from a loose box in a big box store. Oh so tempting, but this is not what I thought I was getting.

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I planted these in the fall of 2014 and they didn’t come up until this year. I actually had forgotten about them. It’s supposed to be a turk’s cap lily (orange with black spots), so I don’t even know what I got.  Live and learn!

Shasta daisy of some type:

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I think this will get moved in the fall or next spring to a spot closer to the front of the bed.

More beebalm:

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They look like Raggedy Ann or some sort of muppet, don’t they? See how nice and full my neighbor’s yard is in the back? Some day.

I love the black satin petunia.

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It’s really striking in person as well. I hope I can find it again next year because I don’t want to try to save seeds and all that.

In the front, the hydrangea blooms are getting bigger.

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They haven’t started turning pink yet. I think it’s supposed to start at the tips, so it will be a while.

My other balloon flowers are open. Remember how I said they were white? They’re not. They are pink.

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Sure enough the tag says Astra Pink. I don’t know why I remembered them as white. CRS, I guess.

The blue balloon flowers are exploding!

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I love these. Guess I should get more?

Lots of cleome now.  This picture makes it look like my garden is a huge meadow when it’s not.

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Volunteer snapdragons.

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Plant snapdragons once and you will have them for years.  I dead head them right into the garden so the volunteers pop up wherever. There are actually of lot of them, too. Only a few blooming now, though.

The supreme cantaloupe is in full flower right now.

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I have a thing for the ruffed coneflowers.  Although saying that, the Cheyenne Spirit coneflowers are racing up my favorite list. They are gorgeous!

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The multiple colors on each plant is so cool.

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I may get more of these.  Tomorrow one of my favorite garden centers is having a tent sale. I was scoping out last week what I thought they might put on sale. Usually it’s flowers that are starting to get pot bound and a little gangly. I’m okay with that. A good shearing and they are good to go. I have a birthday gift certificate to spend there and I will be hunting for some Agastache and possibly balloon flowers. Yay!

What I’m eating

I haven’t posted eats in a while. Part of that is because I eat a lot of the same meals. Like Shelley does, I get in a routine and tend to stay there.

Breakfast is blintzes most days, either topped with blueberries, apple topping or me living it up topping it with nectarines and dried cranberries:blintz7-11

A breakfast like this is around 400 calories for me with my coffee.

I will also make a giant pancake with Bisquik Heart Smart with some added protein.  Topped with sauteed banana.

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It’s one big pancake because I’m too lazy and hungry to make more than one. 😀 This is around 350 calories.

Lunch is Greek yogurt a lot of times with fruit and some sort of cereal.

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I went on a chicken sausage kick for a while. The Al Fresco brand. High protein and many flavors, not all good LOL.  This could be lunch or dinner.

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I think I’m done with those for a while.  I am not done with the blueberries though. I plow through a couple pounds a week!  I love them and they are in season.

Still lots of omelets. I love eggs. This could be lunch or dinner.
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I have had tofu again. This is Chipotle flavored and actually pretty good.

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You might note that I’m eating more carby foods. Since it is cycling season, I do better with more, especially since I ride almost every day.

We eat usually 3 meals out a week. 2 are breakfast (my favorite!!)

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Then a lunch or dinner.  We had a couple really good dinners. One was at Dizzy Chicken, which John can eat vegetarian at with no trouble (surprisingly). I finally had a chance to try their Buffalo Chicken soup and it was amazing!

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It won some soup contest and I’m not surprised. I can’t wait to have this again when it’s a bit cooler 🙂

One of our downtown restaurants expanded (Raul’s), which is great because we didn’t like to go to the old spot because it was too cramped. The food is excellent though. These are chicken tacos in a mole pablano sauce and caramelized onions.

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John loved the falafel tacos as well, and this is on the docket for a football meal in the fall!

There are the long ride treats, of course:

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And sometimes at the end of a long work day, you have to relax:

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Not gourmet eats, but tasty. Fast meals seem to be the order of the day of late.

Rainy, rainy weekend

We had some much needed rain this weekend, but there certainly was a lot of it!  Unfortunately, that meant no biking. Any time we thought we might be able to sneak out for a bit and radar had rain coming. Oh well.  I did manage to get in 5 miles of walking each day between rainstorms and a circuit around the mall 😀

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Wet path and humid, but exercise is exercise! Keeps everything green, too.

It was our BIL’s birthday on Saturday and we had a gathering.

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Carvel ice cream cake:

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I haven’t had a Carvel cake in I can’t remember how long.  I actually don’t even remember what it was supposed to taste like LOL!

Then game time:

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This is called King of Tokyo and I couldn’t even begin to explain it and have it make any sense. We got it figured out though.

Then some fireworks:

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These are the kind that are legal here in NY, the ones that are fountain style on the ground.  This next shot came out really cool on my phone:

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Probably couldn’t duplicate that again if I tried!

Another thing for a rainy weekend was planning our itinerary for Ireland:

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We’ve had the flights booked since February, but we were having trouble nailing down where we wanted to go and what to see. We only have 7 days, so obviously seeing everything is out of the question without being in the car the whole time. And yes, we are renting a car and driving on the left (the wrong side!).  That will be an adventure in itself.

John’s job was researching and booking flights. Mine is to find places to stay and with the trip a little more than 2 months away, it’s time. Of course, that means figuring out where we want to go. We nixed Dublin since we are flying into Shannon on the other side of the country. We are going to concentrate on the southwest and Wild Atlantic Way.  Here is a map if you’re interested to see it. Click the map to make it bigger.

The plan is:

Day 1 and 2:  Ennis base to explore the Cliffs of Morer and the Burren.

Days 3 and 4: Base at Kenmare to do the Ring of Kerry. (This changed, Mom!)

Days 5 and 6: Base of Cork to explore that, Cobh and Kinsale.

Day 7: Back in the Ennis/Shannon area the night before our flight making sure we get to Rock of Cashel on our way there.

This should give us more than enough to see and staying 2 nights in places will keep us from having to pack up every day. Now to book some B&Bs! We are getting pretty excited now that we have a plan!

What’s Blooming

In times when I need peace and quiet and soothing, I head into the garden.  I’m lucky that I have a happy place to go to.

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Right now, there are a lot of things in bloom. I will be posting more on my garden blog this weekend since there are so many in bloom right now.

It’s about coneflower time.  The supreme cantaloupe has been blooming for a while and now the puff is starting to appear in the middle.

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I have a thing for specialty coneflowers as I’m sure you might have noticed. This year I put in some new ones in the front bed we renovated. These are called Cheyenne Spirit and they are multicolored on the same plant!

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I have 3 of these (2 pictured) and they are going to look amazing when they fill out. Hopefully they will live a while. Sometimes the specialty ones have a short lifespan.

Liatris:

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The stem color is a little strange in the picture; it’s not that dark IRL.  These look like feather dusters to me:

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More exploding balloon flowers:

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The white ones should be blooming next week. I am thrilled with how these are growing!

Cleome:

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I have them on both sides of my bird bath and the ones on the side that gets a bit more shade seem to do better, even though these are full sun annuals:

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This is the 2nd year for this hydrangea. It’s called Vanilla Strawberry. I wasn’t expecting to see any blooms this year since it was so tiny last year.

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It certainly likes this spot. It tripled in size. The flowers on this start white and then turn pink.

In the back garden the bee balm is blooming.  It smells like oregano, too! Very fragrant (it’s the leaves).

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It’s a really tall plant. Here is me for reference:

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I probably should have put it closer to the middle, but it can always be moved.

The foxgloves out back are blooming. These plants were $2.99 at my local nursery and they were small, so any blooms are exciting!

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I’m in love with the floxgloves.

A month or so ago, I did that spilled pot of flowers and the impatiens have really filled in now:

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It’s so pretty.  I was just looking to fill space while I decided what to plant here, and it turned out really nice – if I do say so myself.

Looks to be a rainy weekend, so I don’t know how much water feature work will get done, but maybe we’ll get lucky.

Cycling flights

Cross your fingers that the pictures and RSS reader glitch is now fixed!

John is away for a few days after leaving post breakfast. Noms!

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I love my bagels. They never taste the same at home, even if I buy them at the place I eat them. Must be the atmosphere.

I had ridden to breakfast. John drove and left town right after and I continued my usual Wednesday ride.

When I got my iPhone, I thought it would be interesting to see my daily steps. Of course, I don’t have my phone on me all the time, but it’s a good guestimate. It does not record biking and it doesn’t record any steps while I ride. However, it somehow translates my biking into floors climbed!  It’s about 1/2 a floor for every mile biked.

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I did 13 miles this morning and it said about 6. Then that time at noon I did a couple flights of real stairs.  I wonder if it senses the up and down motion of pedaling and interprets it as climbing stairs? Anyway, I find that very amusing.

I did my monthly volunteer work at the Chapman Museum yesterday and they have a mini exhibit called Help Wanted: Female. It’s a look at women entering the workforce.  Here are some interesting notes:

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It’s amazing how they put it right out there that women would be paid less. Of course, that still is true now, but earning less money ended up being how so many women were able to enter the workforce because companies were hiring. Interesting and still discouraging.

There’s your history lesson for the day!