Tag Archives: Iowa

Critters visit

14 Aug

I just love to watch a praying mantis. If I stay long enough, it will turn its head and look at me. I often wonder what these alien looking critters are thinking. “If only my mandibles were larger, I could eat that big mammal over there!”

This chipmunk hung out on the railing and occasionally climbed up onto my bird feeders to grab some seeds, then politely came back down to the railing to eat. I was really surprised that he was willing to share!

Later, I saw this woodpecker on the feeder. Usually the ones that show up have some red, but this one was all black and white.

I often wonder what happened to the woodpecker that my daughter rescued at the beginning of the summer.


Hummingbirds on the Honeysuckle

13 Aug

I have been hoping all summer that the hummingbirds would visit the honeysuckle while I had my camera handy. Yesterday was disappointing as I had a few new birds as well as the regulars at my feeders and the hummingbirds on the honeysuckle. By the time I got my camera, they were gone. I tried to take pix with my cell phone camera, but it didn’t focus well through the window. I was thrilled today to have the camera ready and to be near the window when this bird showed up.

He/she was quite happy to spend time at this honeysuckle. I am hoping that next summer I will be able to find this kind of honeysuckle plant as it attracts more birds than the one I bought this spring.

What to do with Cherry tomatoes? Bruschetta!

20 Jul

I had a person ask me why I plant 2 cherry tomato plants and what do I do with all those little things. The answer is Bruschetta! I found a recipe last year for roasted cherry tomatoes and modified the recipe a little bit. It is one of our favorite summer dishes. I generally collect about 1 cup of cherry tomatoes per person. They shrink when they are roasted and if they don’t shrink much, the leftovers make a fabulous pasta sauce.

If you are making roasted tomatoes for a side dish or for pasta, you can leave the tomatoes whole. For Bruschetta, I quarter each one.

Then take a lot of garlic cloves and cut them up into small chunks. If you don’t like a lot of garlic, you don’t have to roast it with the tomatoes. You can just rub it on the bread to give it a subtle garlic flavor. Our family loves the taste of tomatoes, basil and garlic so we use a lot.

Put the tomatoes and the garlic into a stoneware baking pan. Drizzle the surface of the tomatoes with good quality olive oil. Then sprinkle with ground black pepper and sprinkle with kosher salt. Then bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. If you use a metal pan, it may only take 10-15 minutes and you will want to watch to make sure it doesn’t burn or dry out too much.

While the tomatoes are roasting, slice a loaf of french bread into 1/4 in thick pieces for cracker like texture and 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces for chewier textured bread. These are cut for chewier texture.

Brush both sides of the bread with good quality olive oil and put into 350 degree oven, flipping the bread every 5 minutes until it starts to brown to your liking. If you choose to not put garlic into your tomato mixture, then rub the fresh-cut garlic over the bread to give it a slight garlic taste.

Finely grate parmesan cheese. For garden fresh vegetables, the canned grated parmesan just doesn’t taste that good.

Sprinkle the tops of the bread slices with the parmesan, then return to the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees.

While the cheese is melting, take about 20 fresh basil leaves, stack them, roll them, then julienne. Sprinkle the strips of basil over the roasted tomatoes and toss to make sure everything is mixed together.

Take the bread out of the oven and top each slice with a scoop of tomatoes, garlic and basil.

Wow! I sure love summer!

Our Ames, Iowa home is for sale – vegetable gardens and all!

10 Jul


As you may know, we are relocating and our new blog address has all our old posts on it. The new blog address is http://hardings4pitt.worpress.com

We have been rapidly getting ready for listing our house for sale and finally it is online! I will post new photos of my vegetable gardens soon! I took photos this morning, but have got to get back to organizing the basement. (I have been harvesting strawberries, cherry tomatoes and as of last Friday regular tomatoes, basil, leaf lettuce, peas, beans, yellow squash and zuchinni. I hope the next owner likes fresh veggies – he/she won’t have to spend much time at the farmer’s market after moving!)

If you want to buy a house in Ames, Iowa or just to see what our house looks like, check out the following real estate site!


By the way, Neighbor’s Night is being held this Wednesday and every wednesday throughout the summer. Get to know the neighbors. If you have school age children, they can make friends before school starts this August! We have children on our street that range in age from toddlers through high schoolers.