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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taking a Break

I finished The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and am wrapping up A Visit From the Goon Squad.  I'll be zipping up reviews for those shortly.  In the meantime, I fill my days with sending resumes and making calls and then I send more resumes, write letters, and make calls.  But this weekend, I took a little break from it all ...although I continued to read Goon Squad here and there.  I got away for a couple days to my little oasis in the country (i.e., my boyfriend's farm).  There, I worked on our little garden.  I weeded and straightened out the rows.  I wrestled the cucumbers back inside their fence -- their prickly little branches leaving bristles in my fingers.  The tiny cucumbers grow to the fence and then as they mature, they're half in and half out of the fence.  Leaves you in a pickle when it comes to pickin'.  It's all orderly and picture perfect today...tomorrow's another story. 

I harvested some beans, peas, a few cucumbers out of the fence and plenty of zucchini.  The garden is overflowing it's borders; trying to take over the yard.  I already snapped and steamed some fresh green beans with some real butter...mmm...delicioso!  I baked some Zucchini Chocolate Cake (see recipe below).  This zucchini recipe will take care of any chocolate lover's addiction and will make zucchini lover's out of anyone.  Later, I whipped up my favorite -- creamed cucumbers: almost equivalent to savoring a bowl of ice cream (not chocolate ice cream...nothing surpasses chocolate anything).

This weekend, I also learned how to drive a zero-turn.  For those of us who may need a definition, it's basically a lawn mower that steers using the rear wheels and pivots through 180 degrees without leaving a circle of uncut grass...that is, if you do it right. Who would have guessed that I could steer such a machine?!  At the start, I almost gave up.  It felt so out-of-control.  My ever-patient boyfriend encouraged me and let me wrestle with it a little on my own.  Actually, he explained that the less I wrestle, the easier it might be to steer.  He was right...again.  Before you knew it, I was zipping around like no body's business.  Of course, I did bump the fence just a little, bounced off the edge of a small tree that was probably in the way anyways, and we certainly didn't need those little impatiens on the end of the house. 

One evening, we went to a pig roast and watched a horse show where the riders and their horses were team penning and sorting small calves.  That was great fun to watch.  And then the torrential rain came down and once the lightning was over, we continued to watch a very muddy horse show.  Today, we took a long leisurely ride through the country on the Harley.  It was a beautiful ride full of rolling hills and scenic views, bank barns, gable barns, barns with Gambrel roofs, and dilapidated old barns, picturesque farms with an array of goats, chickens, cows and horses, and country farm houses with acres of pasture and big old village homes each with it's own unique architecture.  It was all so relaxing...and so needed.  I got a little sun on my shoulders, pink in my cheeks and a lot of fresh air.  Breathe in; breathe out.  Okay, I'm ready to face another week of job searching.  And yes, I'll finish that Goon Squad.

Easy Chocolate Zucchini Cake
(Southern Food)
1/2 C softened butter
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 C sour cream
1 Chocolate cake mix with pudding
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 med zucchini shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1 C choc chips

Grease & flour Bundt pan.  Heat oven to 325.  Mix butter, eggs, vanilla.  Add sour cream and cinnamon.  Add cake mix.  Stir in zucchini and choc chips.  Bake 40-50 minutes until toothpick shows clean.  Cool 15 min. Invert.  Dust with powdered sugar when cooled.

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