Raves and Faves 26

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One wall in my dining room is dedicated to a changing display of photos hung on rows of shiny, black clipboards. I print the photos on premium photo paper with a cheap but serviceable ink jet printer, and nearly all of the images were taken with my iPhone camera. What’s the use of leaving those photos in my phone or on my computer? I prefer having tangible reminders of a good time or proud moment or beauty in nature.

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Rust-Oleum® American Accents Semi-Gloss spray paint in hunter green. Two boxwoods stand sentry at the end of the sidewalk that leads to my front door. All the local dogs use them as pee posts and message centers, resulting in large, brown circles of dead wood in each bush. My husband and I discussed digging up the bushes, but they balance the landscape, and their absence would look strange. So I went to a hardware store, found a green spray paint that approximated the color the brown leaves should be, and colored in the dead spots. The match wasn’t perfect, but it was an improvement. Passersby might not even notice the change. A couple of weeks later, our azaleas put on a show of pink blooms to rival any botanical garden. It was a riot of color, thanks to regular shrub feedings by a landscape company. My neighbor, who had an ailing azalea on the side of his driveway, asked me how to make his look better. I assured him I was no gardener and hadn’t a clue, but he looked dubious. Finally, I showed him where I painted the boxwoods, which by some miracle had shot out a few new leaves among the semi-gloss hunter green. This is how I fix a gardening problem, I said. I spray-paint it, and I have plenty of Rust-Oleum left over, if you want me to paint your azalea. He looked at me in disbelief, but his expression and the hearty laugh that followed gave me the giggles all the next day.

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Command Brand™ hooks for heavier, bulky frames. Had a couple of loaded bulletin boards fall off your wall lately? Me, too. I rehung them with these things, and now my boards don’t so much as twitch when I stab them with pushpins. Nice work, 3M.

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Custom yogurt blends. Ready-made, fruit-flavored yogurt is easy to grab from the fridge and seems like a healthful breakfast choice, but it’s loaded with sugar, and I think it tastes terrible. (If I’m craving breakfast sweets, I prefer my sugar crash to come from the do-nut mecca that is Mark’s Do-nut Shop in North Little Rock. They make the best do-nuts ever.) My preference is this non-recipe: a couple of scoops of 2% Greek yogurt stirred together with a squeeze of fresh orange juice and a little honey, then topped with good granola, toasted nuts, and fresh fruit from the farmers’ market. Eating it feels virtuous, while the taste is scandalously good.

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I may not be a gardener, but I do enjoy planting big pots of flowers on the backyard deck. That point when the plants spill over the pot edges and the vines spiral up past their 6-foot bamboo supports is the wild look I like best.

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The first tomato of summer, ready for harvest from one of those big pots on the deck. The second tomato was good, too. The third was consumed by ants. This means war, again. (See this post.)

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Walking my dog. After a long time of waiting for feet and knees to heal, I’m venturing out for exercise again. I’ll never again take a walk for granted.

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Wynonna Judd. I love her gorgeous music, her sassy attitude, her arched eyebrows. She performed with her band, The Big Noise, at Oaklawn Racetrack in Hot Springs last week, and my youngest daughter and I were in the audience. It was an odd venue, a temporary stage built in front of sections of box seats ordinarily occupied by racetrack patrons during thoroughbred racing season. Some might have charitably described it as intimate, but not those of us on the “theater’s” perimeter whose views were limited to how long we could crane our necks at unnatural angles. (See above for a blurry photo from my seat.) After Wynonna sang her first song, she surveyed the room and announced, “This is the weirdest place I’ve ever seen.” Yes ma’am, it was. But her beautiful voice was full and lush, and the musicians in that band played with great talent and all-out verve (especially Wynonna’s drummer, husband Cactus Moser, whose beats wove an extraordinary rhythm in, under, and through the music). Her new album comes out in a couple of months, and I can’t wait to buy it and listen.

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Doggy water bottles. Kai loves to lap from this Gulpy contraption after we’ve moseyed a ways down the road. The yellow side opens up into a trough fed by a trickle of water from the bottle. I don’t love carrying it, but my double-coated husky needs his water in this Arkansas heat, even though we only walk early in the morning.

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Tostadas. It’s what I do with leftover taco fixings, and they may taste even better than the tacos. (No, I wasn’t teasing the dogs with my plate, but when I lowered it to catch the natural light from a window, they positioned themselves to catch any morsels that might fall. Kita and Macy are veterans of dinner prep.)

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A boxed set of the Harry Potter books from J.K. Rowling’s British publisher, Bloomsbury. The British edit is Rowling’s original version; the American edit by Scholastic has subtle differences geared toward American readers. Thus, shan’t becomes won’t, and neighbours are neighbors, and car parks are parking lots, etc., etc. I found a British bookseller who ships (for free!) to the U.S.  I was a happy Muggle when my mailman delivered the seven hardbacks in a beautiful red box. Cost was $139.08 at Book Depository, in case you’re interested. Click here for a link. Expect your bank to assess a small, additional charge for the foreign transaction fee. (My bank also shut down my debit card temporarily as a preventive measure, because the unusual charge looked suspicious to its fraud detection department. I appreciated the vigilance, but, to avoid confusion, I intend to notify my bank before I make another international purchase. Word to the wise.)

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As always, no goods or services were exchanged for mentions on this blog. All opinions expressed are strictly my own. My husband actually likes that ready-made yogurt, and I buy a lot of it at the grocery store.

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