Images & recipes © Christine Mercer-Vernon unless noted otherwise. Please play nice when sharing and give proper credit and link backs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

July Patriotic Desktop Image

Widescreen format 1920 x 1080 pixels, click to download.

I'm stretched crazy thin right now.

Back to back traveling is just insane. So I'm focused on meeting deadlines for my clients and trying to tick off items from my massive traveling to do list.

The painting workshop I attended last week was great, but I'll have to recap that later.

Until I'm back, here's a free July Desktop Image.

And a version without the calendar...



Widescreen format 1920 x 1080 pixels, click to download.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Samuel S. Lewis Park

A few Special Fridays ago, the Jelly Bean and I took advantage of a beautiful day and visited Samuel S. Lewis Park, which is just a few miles from our home.

This is one of our favorite places. There's several areas of large rock formations that are fun for all ages to climb around, through and on.

There's a great scenic view that is breath-taking. Photos do it no justice.  Your so high up with open fields that the breezes are unreal, therefore, they have a kite flying area to take advantage of it.

We brought out kite, but sadly it was not a windy day.





There's a nice walking path through the woods where you are surrounded by Mountain Laurels.



You will get your exercise in this park, the hills are steep and many.











Among the rocks you will find some giant quartz rocks that are quite pretty.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Deviled Eggs



Deviled eggs are a weird thing aren't they?

Everyone makes them different.

I'm very picky about my deviled eggs. I prefer them… normal, without any weirdness added in, slightly dry (does anyone really like runny deviled eggs?), salty, with no tangy aftertaste.

York County has a thing for adding pickle juice to their deviled eggs. Gag. Sorry York Countians but I just can't acquire a taste for them.

Along with my chocolate chip cookies, I get requests to bring my deviled eggs.

[pssst… I'm midweek in my painting workshop… stop by my art blog to see what's going on]

Here is my very simple no measure recipe.



DEVILED EGGS



  • 18 Eggs (but you can easily reduce this down, I've made as few as 3 eggs)
  • Salt
  • Ground Mustard (this is a dry spice)
  • Mayonnaise (the real stuff, not a tangy variety. I make my own from this recipe)


Place eggs in cold water, add a tsp or two of salt (this will make your eggs easier to peel).. Bring to rolling boil on stove, boil for one minute, cover and turn off heat. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Drain, fill pot with cool water.

Carefully peel eggs, cut in half placing yolks into food processor (if you don't have one place them in a bowl and smash with a fork), and whites aside.



Fill your pan you cooked them in back up with cool water and gently rinse off the egg whites, using your fingers to carefully clean out where the yolks were.

Place them in a bowl upside down to drain, or spread on a tray and place in front of a clean fan to dry them quickly, about 1-2 minutes (like i dry berries).


Pulse eggs in food processor until finely crumbled.

Add for 18 eggs:  2 large slightly mounded soup spoonfuls of mayo, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and about 1/4 tsp ground mustard.

homemade mayo
 Pulse until blended. Do not over blend.

Taste and test texture.  At this point it should be smooth and creamy, somewhat dry but not thick and firm. It should have a somewhat salty but not be overbearing.

Use any broken egg white for taste testing.



I added a bit more at this point, another 2 pinches of salt, about 1/8 tsp ground mustard (I like a little kick to mine) and another smaller spoonful of mayo.

Every batch will be different depending on the size of your eggs and yolks.


Using a spoon or a nifty decorator like this, fill your eggs…


I give each a nice dollop, then go back with any extra and create some jumbo eggs. Any leftover filling means you get to eat the broken egg whites, see photo above. :]

Do not sprinkle with paprika. Personally, I do not think this does a thing for the look or taste of them.  Decorate your dish with some lovely fresh herbs instead.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wanted… bad, bad squirrel.


Bad, bad squirrel is at it again.

LOOK...


I am not happy. I fear that it will not survive.  This plant was thriving and catching so many bugs it's little 'leaves' were full of them and new one's were growing each week. It even flowered. Although I forgot to photograph it.

Unfortunately this is what is looked like two days ago. I put it back outside hoping some sun might spur new growth, only to have bad, bad squirrel nibble down the remaining stubs.


This is what it looked like when I brought it home…


I'm hoping while I am away that it will start some new growth. It is safely inside on the windowsill.

Check out the growth on my other one:


And it is devouring bugs like crazy. Just yesterday we found this stink bug desperately squirming for his life….. bwahahahahaha.


It's the little things that make me happy.

Now, I wonder if it can eat squirrels?

Friday, June 17, 2011

To Market, To Market...


In two days the jelly bean and I leave for my Mom's and my much anticipated week of painting.

So this morning we scurried off to Eastern Market to grab a few items.



Normally, we come home with much more, considering we will be gone for a week I only grabbed some fresh fruit to tide us over. I know better than to stock the fridge with fruits/veggies as HE will not touch them while I am gone.

I needed to restock on handmade soaps (I seriously need to learn how to make my own), so we dropped in to Sunrise Soap Company's little store. Their main store is down on Beaver Street and I am dying to go down there.

I came home with this nifty lotion bar!!  Just rub on and rub in! Love it!


Plus… it is Friday… Special Friday! Unfortunately, we have so much to do to get ready for our trip that the jelly bean and I had to forego any excursions today.

Instead, I treated her to this…


Not gluten free, so I only get to inhale deeply.  Inside that pretty like pink box is this little cakey treat…


Of course it looked much better prior to being hugged and jostled around by a 4 year old for 45 minutes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Looking Up...


There's not much to look at today.

Gray skies… impending showers.

It's cool and breezy out. My kind of weather.

Next week it will be hot and humid… NOT my kind of weather.

I will also be in Philly for the Carlo Russo still life painting workshop at Studio Incamminati.

I took a classical figure drawing workshop there two years ago with Jon DeMartin and it was fabulous.

The jelly bean and I will stay with my Mom down in southern New Jersey. Where she will have loads of fun and I will get to paint more in one week than I have cumulatively in the past 6 months.

I'm scheduling some posts to go up while I am away, but will be posting on my art blog (click here) if you wish to follow along on how the workshop is going.

My posts may be scarce the next few days as I prepare to leave. Lots to pack, me, the jelly bean, and loads of art supplies for both the workshop and hopes of doing some painting in the evening at my Mom's.

Word from Mom is her Calla Lilies are blooming like crazy… one of my favorite flowers to paint! She's also got a big halloween-like dead tree in her yard I've been dying to put down in paint too.  I'm probably over-ambitious for all I want to accomplish while there, but hey, it's worth a shot.

But for now… work, shopping, packing, stressing.


Last night we finally saw the bunny at the gym (he/she has been there for years). Jelly bean has named it Bunny-Bun, subject to continual change, last year it was Holly.


Oh wait, I'm supposed to be working….argggggghhhhh!

Guess I will keep looking up to keep calm.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This doesn't look good.


THESE… look good.


THIS… does not!


Blossom end rot.

I expected it. The weather has been erratic. Endless weeks of rain, then from chilly temperatures right up to 90 degree heat and dry. Then rain, dry, rain. Ugh.

Last year it plagued my tomatoes early in the season then again later in the season. But I still had an amazing yield of incredibly HUGE Roma tomatoes.

That is until someone stole them all.


I can grow great tomatoes. But it never fails, something (or someone) seems to take them from me.

This year I was ready. I've added egg shells that I've run through the food processor as a long term fix. Stayed consistent with my watering. Then, just to be on the safe side I purchased some blossom end rot spray to have on hand, and I'm glad I did.

Last year it was sold out in this area as BER plagued gardeners.  I suspect it will again this year.

But that's not the BIG problem… this is…



Do you see how distorted the leaves are?

BOTH of my Roma plants have it. The leaves are all twisted and misshapen, there are a few mottled with yellow, some have darker greenish/blackish areas, but mostly just bright green and misshapen.

I have a deep suspicion that is either Tobacco Mosaic Virus or Cucumber Mosaic Virus, most likely the latter.

My two San Marzano's seem ok.

I want to cry.

I have moved them far away from the others hoping that insects don't jump from them to my other plants and infect my San Marzano's while I figure it out.

They definitely have blossom end rot too. Other than the leaves looking so distorted and tomatoes actually look great and the plant has been growing well, except for the BER.

Anyone out there think I'm right… CMV?  Anyone else locally buy Roma's at Stauffer's and having the same problem (this is me hoping it's something else that I can salvage)?

Then there's my picklebush cucumbers…


Looking good right?  I'm hesitant to think that, some concerns…




Quite possibly Cucumber Mosaic Virus, which would possibly confirm my Roma problem.

I've seen quite a few aphids already which also gives me much concern that I am right.

So frustrating.

I had hoped growing here at home to have less woes since I wouldn't have the insect infestations like I did at the community garden. Which, is true, no bad insects… yay!

But it seems as though I have other woes to contend with.

Grrrrr…..

At least my potatoes look excellent.

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