Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Time to Enjoy The Best of This and That

The 1st of the Christmas Amaryllis bulbs makes an early showing.

My new found friend, Healthy Gardener, gifted me with the 'Best Blog Award' and invited me to pass this along to 15 favorite blogs I've recently discovered.

I met Gloria through Blotanical, purely by searching for South Dakota bloggers ~ because that's where I was born and raised. And, while I wholeheartedly agree we can bloom wherever we are planted, there's also a deep connection with people who's roots are wiggling around in the same familiar mud as you.

The 2nd of the Christmas Cactus gals joins in the fun.

It got me thinking about Thanksgiving ~ I always give thanks for the usual important stuff. This year I'm also giving thanks for one strange thing that needs a bit of clarification: TIME!

The whole concept of having 'enough time' is foreign to me. I work full time, I have a demanding volunteer second job, an all-consuming 'full time' passion toward gardening... then there's the horses... squeeze family into that mess and, well, you get the picture.

This 3 year old unpredictable Poinsettia has taken her usual stance toward the holidays: Undecided. Sporting half red leaves, half green leaves ~ she has 1 month to get with the program.

I've never had a moment to spare. Until now.

This year, life is suddenly manageable. For the first time since I became addicted to blogging way back in 2006, I can take leisurely strolls around the blogosphere, meeting new people and learning all sorts of new things. Because, this year, thankfully, I have some free time!

* This list is in no particular order ~ except for the first one because it's pretty dang cool to have a concert pianist as a friend...
  • To the Minnesota Gardener who took a deep breath and a leap of faith and put it out there... filming herself performing a Schumann Sonata.
  • To the savvy silly sisters, Just-a-Mere and Iron Needles, who get me laughing on the best and worst of days.
  • To the Empress of Dirt for her neat perspective on pretty much everything.
  • To A Corner Garden who's cozy posts and cute dog, Heidi, always entertain.
  • To The Village Voice who's yummy recipes have bailed me out of more than one sticky wicket.
  • To the Totally Inept Balcony Gardener who is anything but.
  • To the Sunflower Ranch who's Writer Challenges keep me on my toes.
  • To Gardening with Grace who just so happens to live in Oregon, my favorite spot in the universe. Bonus! We both love Clematis flowering vines.
  • To the Backyard Farm who not only has cute chickens, she grows as much of her own food as possible.
  • To Flower Hill Farm for lovely photography and interesting stories, whenever I need an escape.
  • To the Shady Gardener because I have no shade so she teaches me a thing or two.
  • To Flowers and Weeds for her fun tutorials and highly entertaining new garden project.
  • To the Witless Wanderer who hasn't lifted a finger on her blog in oh so long but I know why... she's writing a novel!
  • And, last but definitely not least, to the Darling of the Dahlia Society, Karen, who's fine eye for flowers and fur is a joy to behold.
If you want to participate, please grab this award and then pay it forward to 15 of your favorite recent blog discoveries. If you don't want to participate, please don't feel any pressure to do so.

Please note ~ this award asks that I highlight 15 blogs. There are many more I wanted to list. Some I didn't list because you already have the award. Some I didn't list because I know how popular you are and you'll no doubt get the award from someone else! Some of you don't want the awards! And so it goes...

Monday, November 23, 2009

While I Was Napping...

I hope you're not weary of my indoor roses.
It's all I've got growing right now!

I suppose this was bound to happen at some point. Not so much an 'if' as a 'when.' As in... when will I get socked with that nasty flu?

The happy 'clutter' in my kitchen window.

Not the ever popular H1N1. I'm referring to the [alleged] minor flu that's been making the rounds in my neck of the woods.

My dear friend, Karen, was down with this flu and has been too ill to hike for over a month.

But, I never get sick! So, I wasn't worried.

Though I did feel a little tired on Friday afternoon. So, I put on my cowgirl jammies... curled up on the couch...

... and, didn't get out of those jammies until Monday morning!

When I crawled into bed it was autumn; when I woke it was winter.

Ripe for the pickings! Miniature Pomegranate Tree
Pay no attention to the filth in my sunny window. Recent studies have shown that all this dust helps my plants grow bigger and stronger!
(That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Deal with Myself

Early Birds: Edna, my Christmas Cactus, is jumping the gun.

Chaotic weather patterns continue. First bitter cold and heaps of snow. I busied myself baking bread and grumbling about the weather.

Now comes unusually warm days. Bright sunshine melts away the snow offering a last horse back ride of the season. In a t-shirt, no less!

Cyclamen flowers decorate my office on these long, dark nights.

This heat wave is simply postponing the inevitable, I suppose. Even so, I was glad to see a summer-like day. This time of year is always a little hard on me.

The nights are too long and the days too short.

My goofy Plum Bonsai tree offers only 1 flower at a time.

I find myself pacing restlessly wondering what to do... What should I do?

Seems my passions run high in the summer months and are running on empty now that gardening and horsies are done for the season.

Kalanchoe radiates happiness on dreary days.

It was nice, though, playing hooky from work. Trotting along a quiet trail. Soaking in the last little bits of a lingering autumn.

While I was out there I decided to strike a deal with myself:

Right here, right now, stop whining about the weather, stop mourning the end of this sweet, sweet summer.

And, be on the prowl for a new winter hobby...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ November

 "Any flower counts!" So sayeth, Carol from May Dreams Gardens, inventor of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Indoor Micro Mini Roses

I wanted to participate in the monthly Bloom Day but winter is upon us and I didn't think I'd have anything to show. So, I was quite delighted to discover that indoor flowers count. This is a snapshot of my beloved micro mini roses, biggest blooms are about the size of a 50-cent piece.

After I photographed these wimpy indoor roses I thought to myself:

Hmmm... Do you suppose there is anything worth shooting out in that frozen garden of mine?

Scabiosa Pincushion Flowers still blooming ~ it was 13 degrees last night.

Well whaddyaknow! Every gardener probably has that flower. That one perennial who, no matter what, will never let you down. Mine are Pincushion Flowers. What's yours?

I grow black, pale pink, and fuchsia Pincushions (these 3 are kind of fussy.) But, there is just no stopping the purple girls. These feisty little ladies don't care about wind, drought, cold, snow. It's almost as if they knew I needed a helping hand for this November Bloom Day and decided to give it their all.

Not to be outdone... the outdoor roses are attempting a comeback:

And, Helianthus perennial sunflower blossoms, in my humble opinion, look just as pretty in winter time:

* There is a giant boulder in this garden ~ about the size of a Jeep Wrangler. Intense mountain sunshine heats it up during the day and it radiates heat at night. I 'think' this is what keeps the Pincushion Girls alive and kicking.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cowgirl Up!

My friend, Janet, competing with her appaloosa, Phantom.
Yup - she's pointing a pistol at that innocent little balloon. It's called mounted shooting. I don't really get it but then I'm not from around here...

Two weeks ago I made a wild and crazy promise to blog every day this month about the training sessions with my adopted horse, Bella.

Bella's full time job, now, is to fatten herself up for the winter.

That blogging energy lasted all of 5 minutes but I did manage to squeeze in 8 good sessions with Crazy Horse before the weather turned foul and our snowy winter finally arrived.

Megan's little hissy fit.
During my training sessions with Bella, Meg felt sorely neglected.

Why two horses? ~ people ask ~ Isn't one plenty?

Well, if you want to get practical about it I suppose zero is a good round number. Horses are expensive, hard work and... highly addictive. But, there's just something marvelous about these big, gorgeous animals.

Flame is Meg and Bella's BFF.

I tried for 3 years to buy Little Meg but her owner wouldn't sell her. I finally gave up and adopted Bell instead. Two days after I brought Bella home, Meg's owner showed up, handed me the reins and said I don't want Meg anymore.

So, what are you gonna do? I always wanted to be a cowgirl. Now I'm a cowgirl times two.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuna Haters To Die For Tuna Marinade

Hazel's Zinnias

On Tuesdays, we round up the usual suspects and cook a special dinner. It's not easy. There's the 2 teenagers who prefer every meal be mac 'n cheese. There's a happy little carnivore who thinks bacon in mac 'n cheese might be dee-lish.

And, then there's the pescatarians. Fish lovers.

I hate fish. Truly, madly, deeply hate fish. Now I know what you're thinking... certainly not salmon. Everybody loves salmon.

Indeed they do! I can't begin to count the number of times people have invited me to dinner naturally assuming I would eat salmon.

More of Hazel's Zinnias

'Twas salmon that inspired me to manifest my hatred of fish into a life threatening allergy. You see, if I tell people I don't like fish then they'll still expect me to eat it. "Oh, give it a try," they exclaim. "You'll love MY fish."

But, if I tell them I have an allergy...

I will surely die if I eat your fish...

Then they're lots nicer about the whole situation and typically cook up something truly palatable. Like a steak!

This charade worked out well for many years. Right up until my daughter decided to become a [cringe, shudder] pescatarian. Because she knows the truth about me and my fish allergies. She knows I'm a big, fat liar.

Happy Little Butterflies on Hazel's Zinnias

Last night, just to be nice to Lauren, I grilled tuna. I also made a big vat of potatoes and a (from scratch!) chocolate cake so normal people, like me, wouldn't starve. But then something strange happened. It smelled so delicious that I took a little bite. And, it's killing me to admit this but it wasn't half bad...

Tuna Haters To Die For Tuna Marinade:
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup minced roasted garlic
  • 4 tbs. crushed rosemary
Marinate 6 oz. tuna fillets for a couple of hours in this mixture. Grill fillets on very high heat, basting with the marinade. Then feed them to Bad Dog and go buy yourself a cheeseburger.

* Joking about the dog. This is a truly tasty recipe. If I like it, I imagine anyone would. I feel the same way about Hazel's Zinnias.

Monday, November 09, 2009

XXL Micro Minis!

These great, big photos celebrate the tiniest flowers blooming in my sunny window:

That sweet little bud I discovered on Saturday has blossomed into a perfect micro-mini rose. Shown here, much bigger than life, she's about the size of a quarter.

I was so very excited about my baby pinks that I didn't notice the micro-mini yellow roses are also back in bloom. And, this one's a biggie. Over an inch in diameter!

Cramped quarters. I've also got some white roses (just for you, Wunx!) living in the same pot as a very productive African Violet. It's not, exactly, a match made in heaven but as soon as I get paid they're both getting new homes...

Update on reprogramming the Belligerent Bella:
A 2-step backwards day. I did my homework. I watched the training dvds over the weekend and I even tried out a few techniques on Bad Dog . (All he did was howl.)

Bell wasted her weekend lolly gagging around the stables! She forgot everything. We accomplished nothing.

In fact, I'm so mad at her I thought I'd show you her worst photo instead another pretty one...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Radiating Happiness

New bud on my indoor micro-mini roses. When fully opened, her flowers are about the size of a quarter.

I'm blessed (and a little bit cursed) with a very sunny house. So sunny the furniture fades and it's hard to watch t.v. until the sun goes down.

Kalanchoes in desperate need of deadheading.

So super sunny I can grow small batches of pretty much anything indoors ~ including spinach and tomatoes.

But, I don't. After the first experiment, determining that I could be practical and grow veggies...

One over-achieving Amaryllis bulb in my herd of future holiday gifts.

I went straight back to the thing that matters most: Bright, happy indoor flowers who keep me somewhat sane throughout the long, cold winter.

Update on reprogramming the beautiful Bella:
I have grudgingly accepted the rule that 'you can begin gently, but you cannot stay gentle forever.' Just so I'm crystal clear ~ that doesn't mean harming, or frightening, B in any way, shape or form. More on the order of sticking up for myself so she doesn't run over me anymore. I thought for sure she'd hate me because of this new authority, our relationship is so very fragile. Interesting, though, she seems to like me more than ever... I'm astonished at the progress we've made in one wonderful week.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bell's 1 Up On Me

If you wonder why I only show parts of Bella it's because she's gigantic and I don't quite know how to photograph her ~ much less find her good side...

I committed to NaBloPoMo (blogging every day during the month of November.) I thought this was as simple as blogging on MY BLOG every day...

No, no, couldn't be that easy... I actually have to write daily posts on the NaBloPoMo site. Argh. So, I'm already out of the running for most annoying blogger of the month award. And, I don't know what to do with the two kind women who joined my NaBloPoMo Horse Lovers group. This is such a tangled web...

Anyhoo! My 30-day blogging commitment was on the beautiful Bella and how she and I are going to become great friends. Hopefully soon.

I was all excited about our training session today. Right up until I got there and Janet turned the spotlight onto me. Me? What's this all about? She's the bad horse! I didn't kick anybody. Why, pray tell, are you picking on me?

It sort of went like this...
Now, Kate, in the horse/owner relationship who is in charge?
"Well she is naturally. She's a helluva lot bigger than I am."

No, Kate, you need to be in charge. You need to be firm. You need to manage her...

And, so it went. Enough already. Bell's had 4 lessons and she's got an A. I've had one lesson and I'm hovering at a D-.

I SWEAR I heard that horse chuckle as we were marching back to the barn...

* The horse lovers picture is a sign that hangs on our front door.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Blue Skies and Good Lessons

I love the brilliant blue of our Wasatch Mountain skies.

The pesky snow I whined about last week has all but melted away. Trees have donned their party dresses and we find ourselves lazily basking in the warmth of a second summer.

Did you know that the Golden Delicious apple tree variety
is a pollinator for all apple trees?

I didn't either!

In my garden grows Gala, Fireside and Honey Crisp ~ simply because these were the beauties I knew from my old life in Minnesota. Apparently, if I plant one Golden Delicious as a pollinator I'll have apples coming out my ears. Rather the horse's ears. They are terrible at sharing this bounty.

Day Two of Reprogramming Bella:
Infinitely better than day one! We're doing groundwork in an arena, where I stand in the center and guide her with my hand to walk, trot and canter. She runs free ~ no saddle, bridle or anything to freak her out. I say 'we' because I realized after Day One that I'm in over my head and solicited the help of my friend, Janet (horse woman extraordinaire.)

As silly as it may sound, I love this horse because she reminds me of me. Overly-sensitive, easily scared, unwilling to admit to either weakness. There's just something in her, something broken I desperately want to fix. I don't know that I can. But I do need to give it a try.

* For NaBloPoMo I committed to blog every day during November about my adopted horse, Bella. It's doubtful I'll make it through a full month o' bloggin' but I'll wrestle with Bella for an eternity.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaBloPoMo and the Project Horse

If I knew what she was feeling, this would take no time at all.

Took a quick jaunt over to visit OmegaMom yesterday. She's heading into the long dark of an Alaskan winter and I wondered how she was coping with that.

In good spirits, despite the lack of sunshine, she introduced me to NaBloPoMo ~ while vacillating on whether to give it a go or call it a day.

I tossed my cowgirl hat into the proverbial ring.

When you're a blogger your life is an open book. Right? Wrong. This summer I adopted 2 horses and I never said a word. (What???) Details of such stupidity will no doubt be exposed during this NaBloPoMo of far too frequent blogging.

So, how about this? Since gardening season is over the subject of my daily blogging will be the slow and steady gentling of Belladonna. (A nickname that came about after some hellishly erratic behavior.)

High maintenance barely scratches the surface.

Day 1 of Bella's reprogramming went precisely as expected.
Bell loves me. She whinnies hello as soon as she sees my car. She runs toward me, eagerly shoving her nose into her halter, happy to go anywhere with me and then... a rapid evolution toward bonkers.

When we get near the barn and she sees a saddle, she starts breathing heavier. Sweating. Nervously looking around. Suddenly I'm on the fence between friend and foe. So, we worked a little bit. About 45 minutes. Before she reared up and made a half-hearted attempt to strike me. At that point I suppose a lot of people would have punished her severely. But, I kind of think that's what made her this way in the first place. I just stood there and stared at her. A minute later she came toward me, acting like a big, sad puppy.

* National Blog Posting Month is simply a challenge to post every day during the month of November. That's it. That's plenty!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Post Office Presents

I don't often visit the post office because there's never anything good in that P.O. box of mine. Just bills and an astonishing amount of junk mail. However! On this particular visit I found all sorts of goodies!

A Toast!
And, Loaf.

First off, I had a birthday a couple weeks ago. This is kind of a big deal because unlike the rest of you I only celebrate birthdays every two or three years. Try it! You might like it. Makes growing older much easier to handle.

This GORGEOUS wine goblet was waiting for me at the post office today ~ gift from an old friend. Thanks T!

Now Hear This:
I am a Winner!

Yes, me! Who never wins anything! I entered the Stitch It Kit contest and whaddyaknow... I won the grand prize. Actually I think it was the only prize but I so rarely win anything I'm taking latitude with my victory. Thank you, Jan! I hope you won't mind me calling you all hours of the night and day while I master my new craft.

I have really enjoyed following your Blogtoberfest. Makes me wish I had a sister.

Lavender Scones
Lavender Soap
Lavender Everything!

Plus! A fragrant little package also arrived from my favorite Bookworm. Enough Lavender flowers to keep me smiling through a long and dreary winter. Thank you, Jeannie! We are madly baking up Lavender Scones with this booty. May have to send you a goodie basket.