Hi,

Holy cow, I don’t blog for two weeks, now I’m blogging again in two days!

The sea oats days are definitely numbered now.  (The sea oats are the plants that I swear very seed sprouted new ones and I must have thousands I need to weed out).  I went out to the nursery by Hartwood Acres I’ve been going to lately and picked up this very cool Kopper King Hibiscus.  It starts with pink on the outside of the flower to deep red in the center.  But that’s not why I got it, it has these really cool copper colored leaves.  They’re the traditional size and shape of hibiscus leaves, just that cool color.  Then I got a Crocosmia Lucifer, it reminds me of the Hawaiian Heliconia.  I had heliconias in Florida and miss them.  In fact, now that I’m thinking of them, maybe I’ll look around for one to place in the Sun Room.  I’ve never been real successful with getting them to bloom, maybe I’ll have better luck up here in a controlled environment.  Finally, I got an Amsonia bubrectii.  They get some nice blue flowers in the spring, but what I liked about this plant was the foliage.  It has these long narrow leaves that fill each stalk kind of like a pencil cactus, but much softer and bushier.

Speaking of Hartwood Acres, they’re having the annual Blues Festival this Saturday.  I believe it benefits the Pittsburgh Food Bank if anyone is interested in going to it.  Click on the link to go to Hartwood Acres web site for details.

I finally experimented with essential oils for scents in the rooms.  You can either fill a small decorative bottle with cheap vodka & a few drops of an essential oil or with mineral oil and the essential oil.  Then you place a couple of reed defusers in the mixture for about fifteen minutes, then reverse them and the wick sends the scents up and out into the room.  You can get the defusers from Save on Crafts, they sell about 100 for about $10.  My first one I did with baby oil, but it has the fragrance of the baby oil in addition to the lavender.  So I need to find plain mineral oil, I imagine if I can’t get it at Home Depot or Lowes, probably a craft store or beauty supply shop should carry plain mineral oil.  This evening I’m going to try the recipe for vodka and essential oil and see how I like that.

There’s three small local museums I’ve been meaning to talk about.  Photo Antiquities right over on East Ohio Street is an interesting place.  On display is quite the collection of Victorian, Civil War, the aftermath of various disasters and other interesting pictures.  He only has room to display a small portion of all the pictures he has.  The fee is only $6.50, but a caution, don’t go there on a really hot day, the A/C struggles.  If you don’t know Bernie’s Photo’s (which most non Pittsburghers wouldn’t), it is a camera institution here in Pittsburgh that’s been around for years and Photo Antiquities is an off shoot.

An other small museum is just up by Sharpsburg, Bayernhof Museum.  The rambling mansion is the creation of an eccentric business man, Charles Brown that was very interested in the odd.  There’s quite the collection of automatons and other mechanically operated displays like “bird boxes” from the early 1900’s which use tiny slide whistles, organ pipes and turn of the century technology that brings the displays to life.  There’s even a subterranean cave with waterfalls, pools, stalactites and stalagmites.  It’s a very odd and interesting place.

The final museum is the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in West Homestead.  It tells the story of the growth of the steel industry in Pittsburgh including the the deadly Homestead Strike where unions really got their start.  (Pittsburghers have a history of being cantankerous, we were the home of the whiskey rebellion back in the 1700’s, Mingo Church was right down the street from where I grew up).  If you go to Rivers of Steel, be sure to stop at one of my favorite restaurants, Blue Dust.  There’s not much on their web site, but hours and address, I need to speak to them about that.  But if you go to their web site, note the hours of operation.  Just a hint of how they are.  We’re keeping a theme here, blue dust was a by product of the steel making process and Jerry, Rose & Sarah have kept the theme going with air brushed murals of the steel mills by the local artist that did the oil brushed murals in my Inn, Kathleen Flaherty.   and be sure to ask about the mosaic on the bar the depicts the Homestead Steelworks created by Sarah.  They absolutely have the best smoked brisket sandwich anywhere.  And for you vegans, Sarah is a vegan (or vegetarian, depending on the day :) ) and there’s items on the menu that if they aren’t vegan, can be made so for you.  I have always hated artichoke dip (that nasty stuff made by using that prepackaged Knorr seasoning mix.  I can inhale the entire portion of Sarah’s homemade artichoke dip.

Well, that’s it for today, have a great evening and we’ll talk again soon,

ed

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