Monday, August 20, 2012

Odds & Ends: August 2012

Wow! Summer has gone by way too fast. The trees are already turning color in my neighborhood, another byproduct of this summer's drought.  The Iowa State Fair always seems to be the last fun getaway for the summer. My sister and I had way too much fun with all the photo cutouts at the State Fair this year ;)

I actually have to work at the state fair at least one day each year, and last weekend, we closed up the booth for the night right when a storm blew through the fairgrounds.  That's right, a storm. In the middle of a drought.  Talk about bad timing on my part!

Even though it was pouring rain, I couldn't leave the fairgrounds without my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough milk shake from the Dairy Barn.  I stood under an awning and enjoyed my shake in the rain!

The really weird thins about the rainstorm was that it was the second time I got caught in a heavy downpour in the last week. And yes, we're still in a drought!

The weekend before, I ran a 5K race at the State Capitol. When I hit the 2 mile mark, the clouds got dark, and a thunderstorm rolled in.  We all scattered for shelter under these tiny tents.  Did I mention there was lightening going off over our heads?  I haven't been that scared in a long time. Glad I wasn't up on the gold dome!

In other big news (at least for me), I partnered up with a team on to ride the cycling leg of the Hy-Vee Triathlon on Labor Day weekend.  I took my bike to the Neal Smith Trail along Saylorville Lake to test out how well I'd do at the race's 25 mile distance.  But I had no idea how hilly the trail was.  My poor legs and bike barely made it up all those hills!  I hope the Hy-Vee Tri course is a lot less hilly.  I don't have a fast bike, so I'm getting a little worried that I'm going to get in the way of all the other racers!

Now that we've got a little rain, my garden is starting to perk up.  Can you see what I found in my garden the other day?  At least it seemed to be nibbling on the weeds and not the flowers.

And after months of waiting, we finally have cucumbers!  My husband put up a cattle panel to use as a cucumber trellis.  Now our backyard looks like an edible jungle.  I love it!

After a terrible growing season for cucumbers last year, I'm so happy to finally have enough cucumbers to make pickles again.  I've been relying on a shortcut this year -- the Mrs. Wage's pickle mixes -- for canning pickles.  I've had mixed luck at making my own pickle mix from scratch, so I'm hoping the already-prepared mix will work out well.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

So how are you enjoying the last few days of summer?  Have you been canning any garden produce?  As much as I love the summer, I'm looking forward to the fall apple season so I can make pies :)

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