Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Winter That Wasn't


Did you know? Those cute little Primrose plants sold in supermarkets, this time of year, are actually zone 3 perennials? Yeppers. Oftentimes the first little flowers to grace my garden, come springtime. (Keep them alive, indoors, by keeping them very cold. Sunny windows are too hot.)

It's been a busy winter! Or, should I say the longest 'autumn' on record?

Up here, on top the mountain, in ski country, we typically batten down the hatches mid-November. In preparation for a long, quiet winter reading great books, in front of a crackling fire.

John's Trail Ride Selfie :) Riding horses, in March, in a ski resort, in t-shirts!

But, not this year.

I suppose, it depends on who you talk to... Either we're all gonna die from global warming. Or, we've seen these weather patterns before; we'll see them again, and ya'll should stop frettin' so much.

Crocus, Hyacinth and Daffodils are preparing to bloom ~ months early. 

I don't buy into that claim that this is nothing. If it was a one year oddity, perhaps. But, this seems to be a depressing 'something' that's gone on for too long and it's not gonna get better anytime soon.

It's certainly changed my game plan for seed starting.

I wanted to try some exotics this year, but decided to be all practical and stuff. I started the most waterwise cuties I could find:
  1. Globe Mallow
  2. Blanket Flowers
  3. Paprika Yarrow
  4. False Indigo
  5. Wild 4 O'clocks
  6. Prairie Zinnias
 * Numbers 1-3 are left column, top to bottom. 4-6 are right column.
** Make sure you plant them in a lifelong spot - they put down deep roots, to find their own water. After the first two years, they'll bloom beautifully without any help from a sprinkler.

Why? Because I'm preparing for the inevitable letter from the county putting us on a super strict water conservation program, when the real summer really does arrive.


I guess the only bright side to this non-winter is how it's put us ahead of the game, for the first time ever. We used to have to head south early, each year, just to find a warm enough spot to give our horses a bath. Can't show up on a trail ride, without a pretty horse! :) But, not this year.

In 5 short days.... Tick... Tock...

... We're off on our first horsie vacation of the season. The Caballos del Sol benefit trail ride. Where 160 horse lovers converge on Sedona, Arizona for 5 days of sun & fun.

Not that we need any more sun, or dry weather. But, I'm certainly up for more fun! Can't. Hardly. Wait...



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Friday, February 13, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Gorgeous Boys


Every February, these big dudes pay us a visit. And, they're no dummies. They're hanging out inside the Park City city limits ~ where they can rest in my backyard ~ safe and sound...

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The Lazy Girl's Artisan Bread

Prepare to be dazzled.
While the East Coast digs out from yet another epic snowstorm, here I sit in my {grumble grumble} Western ski resort with the windows wide open, peering out on a muddy brown landscape. Ran errands without a jacket earlier this morning. It's all adding up to be a very non-wintery winter. 

Kind of disappointing because I love winter. And, the whole idea of hunkering down, indoors, with a good book, a great movie or marvelous aromas wafting from the kitchen. Just something about a cold, snowy day that inspires a yummy homemade bread.

One of my East Coast, fortunate enough to be sent home from work because of the weather, friends asked me for this recipe. Which got me thinking that maybe you'd like to try it, too. Been baking this bread for a few months, now - to rave reviews from family and friends. It's a no-fuss process that requires about 3 minutes of your attention.

The Lazy Girl's Artisan Bread

In a large bowl, mix: 
  • 3 cups of bread flour (3 cups of flour = a 1 pound loaf of bread.)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 + 1/2 cups warm water
* Resist the temptation to add more water; the dough will look a little dry.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or a lid, of some sort. The cover will trap moisture, inspiring the mixture to work it's magic.

Leave your bowl on the kitchen counter for several hours.
* I combine the ingredients in the morning and bake it for dinner.

If you've been on this blog before, you're probably aware that I never have any of the necessary utensils.
* Saran Wrap works much better than my ill-fitting lid.
* AND, this recipe is ideal for a Le Creuset Dutch Oven ~ should you be so fortunate as to own one. I use my Lodge Dutch Oven.

Don't be as lazy as me. Go buy some Saran Wrap. :)
Bake that Lovely Loaf:
  • Preheat the oven to a whopping 450 degrees.  
  • Put your empty dutch oven pan in the oven while it preheats. Yup. It's gonna be really hot.
Put a cup of bread flour on your bread board. Pour your precious dough out onto the bread board and work a wee bit more flour into it. Don't spend more than a minute on this process. And, don't worry that your bread isn't rising.

* I use a cooking spray on my Lodge Dutch Oven - you may not need to for the Le Creuset.

Once the oven is preheated, place your dough in the very hot dutch oven and, put the lid on it.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off and bake for 15-30 minutes more. Until it's a scrumptious golden brown.
  • Once the lid is off, while still baking, I spray the loaf with an olive oil cooking spray to make it super crusty.  You could opt for an egg white/water wash, if you prefer.
Re-blooming African Violets
And, VOILA!
A most amazing artisan bread that rivals anything you could purchase at a bakery. It requires very little work -- other than the fact that you'll have to bake one every other day. It's so yummy it disappears quite quickly. :)

PS: This has been adapted from the no-knead bread recipes that have been flitting about the internet.

PPS: Pray for snow.



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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Mouse Hunter


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pesky Pests

'Twas a winter wonderland out on my deck this morning! :))  Probably looks frigid but it was 30 degrees ~ warm enough for this snow lover to stand there with the door wide open, enjoying a cup o' my famous cowgirl coffee. (More accurately, that cowgirl coffee is infamous. I'm a devout lover of French Roast and the blend is too strong for most anyone but me.)

I was delighted to see the snow. The epic cold, followed by unnaturally warm days, was really messing with my mood.

It is January, after all. My snowshoes are begging for attention.


And, so are my windowsill flowers. I gave everyone a might soak this morning.

While I was doing so I spotted the first intruder. My bugs are back. Geez! That didn't take too long.

I moved recently, just a few months ago, and so I took that grand opportunity to de-bug all of my plants. Cut them back, re-potted, and in many cases, just kicked 'em to the curb, if the infestation was too much. This is the first time, in 10 years, that I've been without a Plumeria blossom. :(

No one in their right mind nurtures roses indoors ~ unless they're fortunate enough to have a fabulous greenhouse, which I do not. It's a guaranteed bug fiesta. But what's a gal to do? Micro-Mini Roses are my one weakness...

Coffee Grounds:
The reason it's hard to get rid of those gnat-like bugs is because the little devils are nesting in your soil. Now back to that cowgirl coffee I was talking about earlier in the post...  my friends hate my coffee and so do the bugs. Spread used coffee grounds on top of the potting soil. Bugs won't nest in that PLUS used coffee grounds make a great fertilizer for flowering plants.

I've got gnats on my mind but there are lots of other pesky buggers out to mess with your indoor flowers..

Shower Time is a great way to rid yourself of aphids. Set beloved houseplants in the shower to wash off these nasty bastards.  

I've had good luck with apple cider vinegar. (Set a small cup of it near your potted plants.) There is, of course, a wide array of chemical sprays you could use, but some of them are so toxic they could kill your cat.

* If bugs were as cute as these pictures, I probably wouldn't mind. Here's an i.d. of the most common criminals:
  • Aphids: Persistent little green, brown, black bugs that collect on new plant growth. 
  • Mealy Bugs: White fluffy stuff collecting on plant stems.
  • Scale: Hard brown shell hides a despicable character inside. 
  • Spider Mites: Little spider webs appear on flowers and leaves.

Good luck with your de-bugging and stay warm, my friends.

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Balmy.

This impressive fellow was keeping an eye on me while I visited the horses. One of the things I'll always miss about living in the country.

'Tis a balmy 48 degrees! One week after it was 10 below zero. Windows are open, breeze blowing in. I hear the drip, drip of icicles melting away after 7 short days of real winter.

Sable has the best view of local ski resorts, but she doesn't seem to care. Way more interested in a cookie.
As the weather warmed, I scurried over to the stables to take the coats off the horses. They were super friendly and kind of sassy ~ kicking up their heels and running in the snow, free from the trappings of their emergency winter attire.

If the moose gets a coat, why can't the horse?

People have very fierce opinions about coats on horses.

Some say it's the worst thing in the world to do. Others claim you're terrible if you don't dress 'em up.

I take my cues from the horse. I mean... after all... who are you to pass judgement? She's the gal standing outside all night long. When the temps hit 15 degrees below zero (unheard of around these parts) I had her decked out like Randy from that great movie, A Christmas Story.

And, she seemed quite delighted with the added warmth.

I don't get this weather but then I guess nobody gets the weather. It's just all crazy, all the time.

I've filled the new house with gorgeous Amaryllis bulbs.

I will say I love January, though. Be it bitterly cold or blessedly balmy.. I don't really care.



I love it because it's quiet. Because the holidays are over and all that silly stress is behind us.

English Ivy will be transplanted outdoors, come summer.
Plus, I'm not behind on anything. An absolute rarity for this over-worked fool. I can linger with the horses. Kill time at the coffee shop. Putz around with my flowers.

Another stunning Amaryllis
And, work on some grand plans for the upcoming garden season. Which feels oddly close now that it's 48 degrees outside.

Did you make New Years resolutions? I made one. Yup. Just one. To be evil and self-serving throughout 2015.

Oh, I'm just kidding. I made this one:

I'd like this to be my new business card but I doubt anyone would be fool enough to hire me. :)


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Thursday, January 01, 2015

Funny Side of the Street

This is what it looks like out my window when it is 6 degrees below zero.
New Year's Day. A New Year! A blank slate! Anything can happen. And, it probably will.

I like watching birds out my window. Though I'm not too savvy on the subject. This is the red one.
'Twas an excruciating long year and I have high hopes for a better 2015. I kicked it off okay. By kicking the cigarettes down the toilet around 7 p.m. last night. Surprised? Everyone is. NO ONE knew.

We all have our dirty little secrets. Some of us keep those secrets pretty close to the vest.


So far, I’m not having any difficulty ~ though when you’re a pro at quitting - as I am - you know that bliss will never last. I think I've succumbed to stress, and taken up smoking, 25 times in my short life. Which means I'm working on quit smoking #26.

Yeah. I got it down. In another few days I'll be going through some anger issues that makes Charlie Sheen look like a pussy cat. If you see me out and about? Beeline it to the opposite side of the street.

(>'.'<) 

As I sit here on my blank slate New Year's morning of 2015.... the thing that keeps running through my head is this:   

If I were to blog about my true life vs. the pretty flower part of my life? I'd have 200,000 followers on Twitter, not a measly 2. :)


Oh, the happy love of flowers is real. I could not survive without a daily dose of gardening. But, I'm pretty good at ignoring real life. Because some of it is not that appealing.

And, let's face it. After 8 years of blogging. Seriously! Eight years!

I'm not blogging. I'm flogging. I'm flogging that proverbial dead horse to death. I've said everything there is to say about flowers.

So, let's talk about Dave. Er... I mean Charise.

Just so ya know... When it comes to me and Christmas I'm very much an It's A Wonderful Life kinda gal. I simply adore those traditional 1940's movies. I prefer pine cones over tinsel trees... you get the conservative picture.

Imagine.

My surprise when my real estate agent showed up for the big Christmas Eve Bash as a woman! In knee high black boots, nicely done make up (loved his/her shade of lipstick - it was perfect with his/her skin tone...  I'm serious! I rarely get that stuff right...) and a blonde wig! He's bald. Or, she's bald. Well...somebody's bald! At least they used to be.

What the hell??

I cannot stop thinking about him. I mean her.

As New Year's Eve approaches, we all run around chanting this phrase -- A new year! A new me!

And, he she actually did it.


Okay, fine. I just have to say it one more time. What the hell??  And, here I was worried people might judge me for enjoying a cigarette, now and then...


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I don't know Professor Canning but I've always loved this quote. If you're looking for guidance on a New Year's resolution this could be it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jingle Jangle


I wish there was a fragrance app I could add to this blog! The sweet perfume of Paper Whites fill the air. It's intoxicating.

Paper Whites
They're just about the easiest (and fastest) indoor bulb to grow ~ but they can be a little dickens. Some sprout incredibly fast. Others, quite slow. The only guarantee is how delighted you'll be once they bloom.

It's sort of the same situation with Amaryllis ~ some fast, some slow ~ and I could jinx the entire holiday season by saying this...

But, I think I timed it right this year! This big, beautiful bud should be fully open by December 25th.


Update on the new digs (I moved 6 weeks ago.)
Things are coming along! I've got a garage full of new doors and no one to install them. If that job falls in my lap, they'll be done by May but I've still got my fingers crossed I can find a handyman desperate for some Christmas coin.


Christmas Holly
I was pretty desperate for some coin, too. Seeing as how I've been spending money like a drunken sailor on all these fixer upper projects.

I like to keep life complicated (well, not really) ~ it wasn't as easy as me just moving. I moved. Then I had to go back to the old place, fix it up, and rent it out.

That chore, while trying to make this place liveable, had me wishing there were a few more hours in every day.

At last.. Planets aligned. Tenants moved in and I feel ~ once again ~ as if I'm walking on the sunny side of the street.

~~~~~~~~~~~
Buddy: ratty cat ornament.
With a little jingle in my own pocket, I decided to start sprucing the place up for the holidays. Do you hang onto your decorations forever and a day? I do, too... and they get pretty ratty. So, I tossed a bunch and am starting over.

I hauled out the fake snow, with grand plans to create a Charles Dickens village with my collection of wee houses. Came back into the room to find this ratty [Cat} ornament smack dab in the middle of my display.

~~~~~~~~~~~
On the flower front, Orchids now live in the bathroom. Bright light + high humidity = some crazy-ass flower power.


If you look really close...  Kalanchoes have some new buds:


And, I started an herb garden! Because, you see, I didn't have nearly enough greenery to keep me busy. :))


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