Film: Your Phone Is Not A Steering Wheel

My son (I call him middle son, but one friend corrects me and said he is a middle child; I only have two sons) has a bit of time this summer. He had a really busy year last year, and he will be going away in August. He has been making some films, and I encouraged him to enter another contest (he has won two already). This film is the latest. Enjoy.

The film is claymation about the hazards of texting and driving. I was told to tweet it with the hashtag #BraketheHabit.

Cucumber Seedlings Grow (and Portulaca)

I love planting from seed. You do need lots of patience to do so – the plants take a long to flower and bear fruit. This spring I have been photographing my cucumber seedlings for about one month.

cucumber seedling
May 13: Here is one small one – the cucumber plant has two early leaves, and this it is a dicot (dicotyledon). These first two are called embryonic leaves.

cucumber seedling May 20
May 20: A cucumber seedling one week later – now you can see a little of one true leaf. Note how big those embryonic leaves have grown.

cucumber plant wet
May 28: After a bit of a drought, we had a wet week. See how big the true leaf has grown. I love photographing plants when they have just a touch of water upon them.

cucumber plant grows tall
June 7: Now is the time I really need to start adding more of the seedlings to the garden. The cucumber plants are competing for space with the peas. My peas are quite happy, and now some of the cucumber seedlings are growing around them in the garden.

June 8: A few more seedlings need a home (in the ground).

cucumber seedlings in the ground
June 8: I planted more cucumber seedlings in the ground today. Sometimes it takes a while for a seedling to get used to the new setting – this is called transplant shock.

Finally, for some color, enjoy a shot of my portulaca (moss rose). I planted quite of few in my front yard this year.

What is in your garden? Even if you don’t have a garden, what would you like to grow?

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Berry Cashew Pudding

Strawberry Cashew Pudding
Strawberry Cashew Pudding


  • 1 cup strawberries or blueberries (or try some other berries or fruit)
  • 1 cup raw cashews or macadamia nuts
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey (or to taste)

Soak the nuts for about 4 hours and drain. Blend all ingredients using food processor or blender until creamy and smooth. Serve immediately or chill. The original recipe suggests adding a little water, soymilk, or almond milk to facilitate blending if needed (I didn’t do this).

I’ve made this twice with blueberries (original recipe called for blueberries) and once last week with strawberries, as pictured.

Source: via Klara

Update in 2015: I made this again – it was delicious. This time I used frozen strawberries. Because they were frozen, my food processor took a long time to get them pureed. I then added some oat milk – that helped a lot with the pureeing process. I forgot the sea salt – I have no idea why they are in original recipe. I will ask Klara. And this time even my daughter liked this dessert – she has plans to serve it in beautiful wine glass topped with real fruit and bits of cereal (I will definitely skip that last one for me). Update on wine glasses: too tall. Next time we will try yahrzeit glasses (small little glasses of which we own an abundance). Note: the little glasses (we used yahrzeit glasses worked). Tip on using frozen fruit: let it defrost for about twenty minutes or more … that will help making the blending easier.

The Reluctant Videographer: Miss Hannigan

Miss Hannigan in Annie, Jr.
Last week my daughter performed in a show: Annie, Jr. at the Highland Park High School in Highland Park, New Jersey. She had the role of Miss Hannigan who runs an orphanage filled with girls. Does she like her job? No. I have to say I never cared much for the story of Annie: too sappy. But as I now see it from the point of view of Miss Hannigan, I enjoy it much more. She clearly is totally in the wrong, wrong role in life. Of course, just because she’s miserable, why should she have to be so nasty to everyone else as well? She is pretty darn funny – she probably should have been a comedian.

A favorite line:

Some women are drippin’ with diamonds / Some women are drippin’ with pearls / Lucky me, lucky me, look at what I’m drippin’ with / Little girls!

The day of the show I figured out how to use the movie mode on my camera. Maybe by the next show I will use a tripod, but I did manage to get six videos online. With my middle son’s help, I put them on YouTube in a playlist: Annie, Jr. – HPYTC 5/14/15.

Here is Miss Hannigan singing ‘Little Girls':

A scene of Miss Hannigan yelling at the orphans:

You can see the other four on the play list.

I had hoped to do more watercolors, but the show got in the way. The holiday of Shavuot is coming this weekend: best wishes to all that celebrate. One week later is the Israel Day Parade in New York City. After that, a special wedding of someone who I’ve known since she was one. It’s nice to have many celebrations, but I like time to do creative work, too.

• • • 

What do you think of the Miss Hannigan character? Does she have your sympathy at all? Or perhaps she bothers you a lot? Regarding video, have you done any videotaping? How have you gotten better at this task? Do you have a YouTube channel?

Oh, and the Reluctant Videographer is me.

Rutgers Plant Sale: Snapdragon, Petunia

Rutgers Plant Sale - Rutgers Gardens
Every year in early May there is a wonderful plant sale at Rutgers Gardens. I went with a friend on Friday and met another friend there. I bought: snapdragons, petunias, Rutgers tomato plants (I’ve been growing those for the past few years – not too big, not too small, and they are developed at Rutgers!), two kinds of rosemary and some broccoli plants. Here’s to praying that the broccoli plants do not get eaten by a ground hog or by deer. A friend sent a link to wolf urine packs – should I try those? Another idea was sticking garlic near them. We shall see. One friend bought swiss chard and eggplant; another friend purchased a variety of cilantro. All the plants at the sale are top quality. Last year I bought a hydrangea plant – the leaves got eaten by a deer before it flowered, but happily this year despite being only sticks in the winter it is now full of green leaves again.

snapdragon yellow in front of magenta
Here is one of the snapdragon plants now in front of my house. I got a mix of yellow and magenta/pink snapdragons.

My petunias are now planted in a sunny corner of my yard, at the edge of the sidewalk and the driveway.

This tulip is growing in front of my porch. No, I did not get at the Rutgers Plant Sale, nor did I plant it last fall. The tulips that are growing on my block seem to be the ones that survived being eaten up by deer.

strawberry plants
Finally, my strawberry plants (which I planted about ten years ago?) have those white flowers. Next step: juicy red strawberries! No more hunting for half decent organic strawberries in the store. For two weeks, we get a marvelous treat. Must make sure to pick them – last year we were too busy and neglected to pick the last bunch (they turned to mush on the plant).

Good news! I got my watercolor paints out again today (they’ve been away in the closet far too long). I did a quick painting of my garden using an exercise from One Watercolor a Day. Soon enough, I will have a watercolor that I will post on this blog. Stay tuned!

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May Blooms: Lilac, Dogwood, Azalea

lilac in bloom in Highland Park, New Jersey
It’s a lovely time of year in Highland Park, New Jersey. Lots of trees, bushes and flowers are in bloom, such as this lavender lilac. Did you grow up smelling lilacs in May? I remember them as a child growing up in Newton, Massachusetts; I would walk down the street and smell this lovely scent.

pink dogwood in Highland Park, New Jersey
This elegant dogwood is in my neighbor’s backyard. Several years back I painted a watercolor of this dogwood in bloom. My dogwood photo from 2008 seems to get a lot of pins on Pinterest.

azalea in Highland Park, New Jersey backyard
Azalea bushes are quite popular in Highland Park. This one is in my backyard. Give a few weeks and the blooms will be full and red. Others are pink or white. Azaleas like acidic soil – Highland Park, New Jersey soil cooperates. Tomatoes also do well. I’ve planted marigolds in my front yard – those have germinated. I’ve also seen the nasturtium seeds germinate (I planted those, too; the seeds look like shriveled chickpeas). My chamomile seeds were started in a little box – I’ve got those germinating as well. My hydrangea is still alive – it started to grow green leaves. Will it get munched right down by a deer like what happened last year? Or will I be rewarded with hydrangea blooms?

dogwood in front of lilac
Here are dogwood blooms in front of lilac blooms.

What’s in your backyard?

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