Archive for July, 2019

Well, here’s the big news – I had my first harvest of the season this week. Up to now I have only been able to score some fresh basil while the veggies grew – and my how they have grown.

I harvested a nice yellow squash, some tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and a bunch of green beans. By the way, it looks like the cucumbers will be the star attraction in the garden this year – they are growing like crazy. Someone told me it may be due to our long, wet spring we endured.

Meanwhile, I think my tomatoes have suffered from squirrel activity, but I have had several ripen on the vine and survive.

My harvest is pictured at below left, what I did with it is pictured below right – and it was yummy. (Click on the thumbnail for a large view.)

I am headed to New York City this weekend for a mid-summer respite, seeing some shows and visiting friends. However, I do have one task on my list while I am in the big city – take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge – something I have always wanted to do.

In a city full of iconic structures, the bridge is definitely near the top of the list. I have always been interested in the Brooklyn Bridge, but it became a totally fascination after I read the superb The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by the awesome David McCullough.

About The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough:

“The dramatic and enthralling story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time, a tale of greed, corruption, and obstruction but also of optimism, heroism, and determination, told by master historian David McCullough. This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation’s history, during the Age of Optimism—a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all things were possible. In the years around 1870, when the project was first undertaken, the concept of building an unprecedented bridge to span the East River between the great cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the great cathedrals. Throughout the fourteen years of its construction, the odds against the successful completion of the bridge seemed staggering. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project. But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle; it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time and of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or exploiting the surpassing enterprise.”

No one can make history come alive quite like Mr. McCullough, and this book, an earlier work, has lived on as the definitive history of the great bridge – and I have been re-reading it as I plan my visit.

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough is available in multiple formats from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

I know I have posted about this before, but the very first item I ever bought on eBay back in its early heady days was a vintage snoopy lunchbox – which was my first lunchbox when I went off to first grade. Hence, ushering in the cliche of people of a certain age buying back their childhood online.

For me it was finding something long lost. As the story goes I was unable to keep anything intact when I was a kid. My lunchbox didn’t make it very long into the school year. I beat that thing up. I would bring it home and my dad would pound out the dents. When the hinges failed my mom rigged up a solution using a hairpin. But then one day, my mother announced my awesome domed Snoopy lunchbox was beyond repair.

“Great,” I thought, “now I get to pick out a new lunchbox.” Well, that was not to be, I remember my mother saying “if you can’t take care of your things you are going to have to carry your lunch in paper bag.” This of course was a variation of the classic “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

I was the only kid in the class without a lunchbox. I decided that made me grown up.

Anyway, I always wanted a second chance at the Snoopy lunchbox and I kept an eye out for years. Especially in the 90s when there was a renewal in interest in the old metal boxes. Then came eBay. The lunchbox was the first thing I ever searched for on eBay and the first thing I ever purchased. This was circa 1997 and the box has a place of honor in my home to this day – and I am happy to report it is completely intact.

So why this memory all of a sudden? Well, a flood of nostalgia came over me when I spotted one of the Snoopy lunchboxes earlier this summer at the great Randolph Street Market in Chicago – pictured above.

My watch obsession continues with no bounds, and I love (and hate) that I have fallen in love with the Sportfisher II Moonphase Watch I found from the fine folks at Hook & Gaff.

About the Sportfisher II Moonphase Watch from Hook & Gaff:

“Like to keep an eye on the skies? Humans have turned to the moon for thousands of years, but tracking has never been more effective or sophisticated than it is with our Sportfisher II Moonphase watch. The lunar cycle, or the time it takes to get from a new moon (when it’s not visible) to a full moon and back again, takes roughly 29.53 days. Our moon phase watch reflects what phase the moon is in as you see it in the sky.”

Why hate? Because the last thing I need is yet another watch.

Find the Sportfisher II Moonphase Watch from Hook & Gaff here.

Visit Hook & Gaff online here.

I love a good game of cards and I am always looking for a deck to play with. Perhaps if I had something as lovely as the Double Leather Playing Card Case I found from the fine folks at Wolf & Badger I would keep my cards close and never lose them again.

About the Double Leather Playing Card Case from Wolf & Badger:

“The Double Leather Case is made with vegetable tan leather and carries a Red and Ivory Deck of cards. It’s meant for the casual traveller that is always looking for a reason to play a game with friends.”

Find the Double Leather Playing Card Case from Wolf & Badger here.

Visit Wolf & Badger online here.

FF: The Whale Acacia Cheese Board by Twine

Any summer get-together of mine is going to have a charcuterie board of course. Now I found the perfect way to serve the fine meats and cheeses for the summer: the Whale Acacia Cheese Board by Twine I found available from the fine folks at True Brands.

About the Whale Acacia Cheese Board by Twine:

“Inspired by the gentle giants of the deep, this whale is crafted from beautiful acacia wood and serves as a cutting or serving board. With weathered nautical character, this board brings the coast to any kitchen!”

The Whale Acacia Cheese Board by Twine is available online from True Brands.

FF: The Stand-up Whale Card from Meri Meri

I have featured the cards from Meri Meri a few times in the past. In fact, I think one of the first posts I ever made was about them. Well I keep going back to them and finding new things, like their fun Stand-up Whale Birthday Card.

About the Stand-up Whale Card from Meri Meri:

“Looking for a statement card that can double up as a decoration? This beautifully illustrated whale stand-up card will be a joy to receive and display.”

Find the Stand-up Whale Card from Meri Meri here.



I have absolutely no use for it – but for some reason I have fallen in love with the simplicity of the Small Zipped Pouch in Vibrant Orange I found from the fine folks at COS .

About the Small Zipped Pouch from COS:

“Made from technical materials, this small pouch has a zipped compartment with a leather trim, a back slip pocket and an adjustable strap that can be detached.”

Find the Small Zipped Pouch from COS here.

Visit COS online here.

This week’s book is one of the most delightful reads I have found in a long time, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, with illustrations by Eugene Yelchin. So hard to describe, this book is just a fun, sly, darkly comic and totally entertaining tale you will not want it to end.

About The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson:

“Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story. A hilarious and biting social commentary that could only come from the likes of National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor . . . and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.”

The story alone is excellent, but the design of the book is absolutely stunning with some of the best illustrations (by Eugene Yelchin) I have seen in a contemporary book in years.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers everywhere.

OK, you have to love a distillery called Smooth Ambler Spirits, and I do, because they make a really smooth bourbon, their very fine Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon.

About Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon from Smooth Ambler Spirits:

“A select, single barrel edition, Old Scout Single Barrel is bottled at a unique cask-strength with each release reflecting the exact barrel proof of the distinct cask in which the whiskey was aged.”

About Smooth Ambler Spirits:

“Set among historic mountains and rich earth, Greenbrier County in West Virginia is home to hardworking, independent people who soak their souls in a leisurely pace of life. In 2009, TAG Galyean and John Little founded Smooth Ambler Spirits in this inspiring place, with a notion to celebrate patient Appalachian craftsmanship, and to put it to good use making truly tasty artisan spirits.”

Find the Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon from Smooth Ambler Spirits here.

Visit Smooth Ambler Spirits online here.