by smwhitver
, a photo by smwhitver on Flickr.

Somehow, every year, I have a volunteer tomato growing out of my compost bin.

This always amazes me. I wonder how the composted matter is not to rich for the little plant. I wonder how it finds the hole in the side of the bin, and if it has had to travel far to get to the sunlight.

Usually, I weed it out before it gets to big. It makes the bin difficult to move and I can’t really get a cage around the plant. But this year I have decided to let it go. If it has found a way to grow, I will let it grow. It gets watered by my sprinkler each day along with my seven other tomatoes and my various other garden plants. It is a cage free tomato. I have no idea what variety it is- we had so many lovely tomatoes from the farmers market last year, and it could be any of them!!!

I noticed a few blossoms yesterday, which means in a short while I will see the fruit. I am so curious!


Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie by smwhitver
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, a photo by smwhitver on Flickr.

Perfect for a lazy Sunday in May

Tomorrow starts a new world! Tonight we ended the world with a great meal, great conversation, okay wine, and great games.



  by smwhitver
, a photo by smwhitver on Flickr.

I remembered how very helpless I felt directly after the tornado- actually I didn’t know it was after the tornado because I had no radio, no tv, no internet- not even a cell phone. The feeling of isolation was strange, and I was very disturbed because for hours we heard sirens from emergency vehicles. Hours! I kept turning to Austin and asking him why they were still out. Why were they out for hours? And I remember getting so anxious, and asking ridiculous questions, like do you think they are just patrolling because the electricity is out? surly no one was hurt.

When our electricity went out, we had no idea a tornado had hit Tuscaloosa. We waited for a while, and when it didn’t come back on, we decided to go to the grocery store for a few things we needed. As we walked out of our house, we realized everyone was outside. People were standing in the street. They were taking pictures of each other and there was energy. It was a strange reaction, we thought, to loosing electricity (which we figured was city district wide and due to the storm). Austin and I cracked irreverent jokes at the undergraduates hanging off their balcony railings, yelling to each other, cell phone to the ear. We passed our friend Kate, who had waited out the storm on campus and was driving herself home. The electricity was out at Publixs, and the street lights were out, and I told Austin I didn’t want to fight the traffic of McFarland without street lights- perhaps we should just go home and wait it out.

For the entire journey, we saw no damage. The radio in our car wasn’t on, and we didn’t hear any reports.

We continued to hear the sirens. Austin laid down for a nap. Our house was getting hot and muggy, and we assumed we would get power back on soon. We live close to campus, and if the problem is widespread enough, it gets fixed pretty fast. The University cannot go without electricity for very long.

I went outside and did some gardening. I exchanged greetings with neighbors as they walked up and down our street. A storm earlier in the morning had brought a tree down on one neighbor’s car port and two SUVs. I weeded my roses and pulled the debris to the road. It was calming. I reflected on the fact that I had little else to do at the moment- I couldn’t do laundry or cook dinner or even watch tv, so gardening was a good pass time. It would be dark soon.

When I was done gardening, Austin and I decided to go for a walk to see what we could see. The sirens wouldn’t stop, and we couldn’t exactly check the news on the internet- our iphones weren’t working. A tower must have been hit, we assumed.

We started wandering around our neighborhood, but like our earlier excursion, found no damage. We went to talk to Kate. As if it were common knowledge, she started talking about how there wasn’t a Krispy Kreme left. And the CVS was gone, but she didn’t think the mall was hit. A tornado touched down in the middle of a busy intersection and wiped out a bunch of stores. She didn’t know if anyone was hurt. We had mutual friends who lived in the neighborhood behind the CVS, and I got a text through to them. I got a reply that I misread as a response- it was actually a text asking if I were okay, but I took it as a reply that they were fine. Any phone communication was almost impossible. we had one bar on the phone or a no service signal. Austin and I started walking again. Maybe we could find a restaurant downtown and use their wifi, and get a bite to eat. The streets were empty of cars and the traffic lights were out. The lights that line the streets were out. Everything was dark. We passed more people that we knew, and they confirmed what Kate said but didn’t know much else. A tornado hit the intersection where the mall is. We decided to head to Hooligans, and as we were passing the Irish bar on the corner next to Hooligans, a girl ran out to us and told us there was plenty of room in the bar. When we told her we were headed to Hooligans, she shrugged her shoulders and said no one else had electricity. Good luck finding somewhere else, but if we didn’t we were welcome to come back. We ended up back there after about 30 minutes of wandering downtown. They had wifi, and I got onto facebook to message our families and let them know we were fine but that our phone service was down- when i got onto facebook I didn’t believe what I saw. I was mesmerized. A friend in Ohio had posted a video of the tornado- something out of a movie, a huge column of swirling debris with tentacles coming out and also touching down, scooting it forward- systematically moved in a straight line diagonally through the heart of Tuscaloosa. Austin’s mom was frantically posting on facebook to see if anyone had heard from us. They had been scouring the internet for information about the exact streets where it had hit and triangulated to our house to see if it were likely that we were in the path of the storm. I had talked to her a brief 15 minutes before the storm hit, and joked with her that I would let her know if we blew away. I don’t know how long we were at the bar. They served everyone chicken tenders on a big platter. Austin made me eat. I was focused on what had happened, and was entering a bit of shock. I couldn’t fathom the reality of it. I honestly didn’t even try to imagine what everything looked like, and I didn’t realize how extensive the damage was because the news reports were so focused on the one intersection of town. We went home and went to bed, and slept through the night.


  by smwhitver
, a photo by smwhitver on Flickr.

Last time I saw this it was a wooded neighborhood. I was thinking about the tornado this last night, and I have some very deep thoughts- ones that perhaps I can’t articulate.

Lemon Curd


Hi hi!

So, the weather is finally cooling off down here. I have been wearing a lot of my little sweaters, and doing a bit more baking! For some reason, when it gets really hot, I don’t want to stand in the kitchen over a hot stove.

The pepper jelly turned out really well, and we have been enjoying it so very much! My friend, Louise, even made a pork loin inspired by it, and we savored it with every bite last Saturday night- Louise is an excellent cook.

Because of my pepper jelly success, I decided to make some Lemon Curd! I love lemon curd so much. Do you know, I had never had it until about 4 years ago? I came across a recipe for toasted pound cake topped with lemon curd, and it sounded inviting, so I tried it. Instant love. This is my first attempt at making it from scratch.

It’s yum.

Pepper Jelly


Yesterday, all I wanted to do was make pepper jelly. As the day progressed and one thing led to another, I ended up having to make a lightening run to Birmingham to visit the apple store with Austin’s sick iPhone. It was a hardware issue. They replaced his phone, and I didn’t get home until 6 last night.

Austin and I are nuts about the pepper jelly, and Alabama is good for growing peppers. Originally, I thought I would make it straight from my garden peppers, but I didn’t plant enough this year- Austin ended up buying my portions from the farmers market on Thursday. A beautiful, random selection of sweet peppers and hot peppers, and I had a few habeneros from the garden for good measure.

As a side note, have you ever smelled a raw habeneros pepper? As I was chopping, I kept smelling this sweet floral smell. A little fruity. I picked the habeneros up and it smelled so lovely! It also brushed up against my face, and the spot tingled for hours!

I love jamming. Every time I do it, I get such a sense of satisfaction. I made 18 adorable little jars of pepper jelly last night. And they’re stinking good!



Thanks to Jenna and Pouria for a wonderful trip!



Yesterday, Jenna and I drove to Nederland to go hiking. The weather couldn’t be better, and the sky is expansive and breath-taking! Nederland is 8236 feet above sea level, which is the highest point I’ve been to on this trip.

We ate at a funky little Nepalese restaurant called Kathmandu- amazing samosas!- and then we headed out to the Caribou Ranch Open Space for a easy 4 mile hike.

The wildflowers are everywhere. Sometimes I get a little short of breath at the higher elevations, and I have been drinking more water than usual, but I am having a wonderful time!