Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blue Moons and Winter Whites

Indoor Azaleas are ready for the party.

Was planning to participate in Wordless Wednesday as I've been in quite the curmudgeon mood these past days. Seemed like a fine idea ~ blog without words and nobody knows I'm cranky!

Plum Bonsai is hoping to steal the show

But, then I woke to the muffled sounds of everything. Which could only mean one thing. The snows I've been hoping for have finally arrived!

A soft blanket of white covers the garden, muffling the sounds of passers by. I smile out the window at fat flakes gently falling and my mood is exponentially brighter.

You see... I needed snow and lots of it. 

This New Year's Eve is a full moon AND a blue moon.

In honor of this very Blue Moon, I was planning a moonlight snowshoe party ~ even though we had no fluffy powder to play in!

KC's Garden Bumble Bee shivers beneath the freshly fallen snow.

I should have known grand things would happen when I met up with KC yesterday. Seems the weather delights in foiling our plans and this day was no exception.

Karma? Kismet? Call it what you will. All we had to do was schedule a good weather day lunch in order for Mother Nature to send me the snowstorm we so despereately needed!

I white knuckled it down that icy canyon anyway because this mission could be delayed no longer. I was intent on delivering her over-achieving and nearly done blooming because now it's after Christmas Amaryllis. Which she seemed to like, in spite of the fact it was half dead. :(

In exchange, Ms. Photographer Extraordinaire gifted me with this photo of Bad Dog and I, snowshoeing Iron Canyon:

Me and Bad Dog!
Wishing you 
A Happy New Gardening Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's My Fantasy; I Can Try If I Want To.

For Christmas I received root cuttings of these tropical flowers. I'm hoping to grow them in my sunny window.
I'm only 10 years away from having a Plumeria Tree like this one!

Twenty years ago, Mom took me to Hawaii. I haven't been the same since. In fact, that visit pretty much ruined me for life.
I'm only 5 years away from having a Red Ginger bush like this one!

Up until that first visit to Hawaii, I'd been happily immersed in my zone 3 garden with nary a clue as to how the other half lived.
Once we had strolled the lush gardens on Maui, I realized my future hinged on one of three things:

- Plan A: Win the lottery.  [I still hold out hope.]
- Plan B: Use a grow light. [Lessons learned. One cannot fool these tropical beauties.]

Plan C - my latest and greatest scheme - involves an entire sting operation.
* I plan to squeeze my tropical flower root cuttings (just tiny little seedlings right now*) into a south-facing bay window, crank up the humidifier and convince them they're still living in paradise.

Will it work? Who knows?
More importantly... Who cares?

It's 7 degrees here, today. If I can convince these beauties they're living in Hawaii, perhaps I can fool myself into believing that, too.
* I photographed all of these flowers on my last trip to the Kula Botanical Gardens in Maui, Hawaii. A magical place, if ever I've seen one.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Flower Exchange

Phaleanopsis Orchid
(Love these polka dots :)

When people draw my name at Christmas, they're generally pretty happy. You'll find no expensive electronics on my gotta have it wish list. If it's blooming, and you give me one... rest assured I'll be ecstatic!

Lava Rock Schefflera

Nifty things in my stocking this year. Like this Uko Bonsai ~ happily growing, with roots exposed, inside a lava rock!

Luscious Alstroemeria

A cut flower who cannot be grown as a plant in my home. Do you know the story of the Alstros? A Dutch flower company hybridized these lovelies many years ago. They own the patents. The flowers are sterile. Seems the prettiest colors are only sold as cut flowers though some colors are available for private growing in the nurseries.

I've heard they're loosening up these restrictions and I sincerely hope so. Alstroemerias are so gorgeous ~ easy-growing indoor bloomers!

New pink AND white Azaleas! 

Karen's 5-Blossom Over-Achieving Amaryllis

These pretty new bloomers are all lounging in the sunny window, becoming great friends with Karen's Amaryllis. I call it Karen's because I grew this for her ~ started it as a bulb back in October.

But, we could not get our schedules figured out to meet up for a pre-Christmas lunch. So, now I'm not sure what to do. Because she'll be done blooming in just a few days.

I suppose I could give her a dead Amaryllis. After all, it's the thought that counts... right? :D

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blessed Are the Beasts and the Sedum, Too.

Here's the prettiest thing not blooming in my garden.
Sedum Autum Joy is as lovely against a winter backdrop as she is in full flower. (IMHO)

Stopped over to visit my horse, Bella, today.
She was all riled up.
Stamping her feet. Calling loudly.
Running the length of her corral with a keen eye on the snowy meadow behind it.
First she'd whinny at me. Trot toward the back gate.
As if she wanted to show me something.
Bad Dog and I spotted him at precisely the same moment.
We turned and ran for the car as fast as our little legs could go.
Me, for the camera.
BD for safe haven. That's my doggie! Hiding in the car when he should be acting as my bodyguard. :)

This is the biggest coyote I've ever seen. As big as Bad Dog and that coward weighs in at 109. He was hunting for field mice. Listening to them scurry beneath the snow. Diving into the drifts to catch them.

Bell and I stood at the back fence watching him hunt and play for at least an hour. He just ignored us and went about his business goofing off in the freezing cold. Pretty special...
The reason I stopped over to see the horse in the first place was to bring her The Invitation. It's Christmas! People are giving us stuff! We're going to Arizona for a great big trail ride!

I was so excited I spilled coffee all over the invite.

But, here it is. I showed it to Bella. She tried to eat it.
I'm taking that as an RSVP yes!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Few Dozen of My Favorite Things

Our Christmas tree is leaning a little to the left but I'm not worried.
We nailed it to the wall!

I keep promising ~ at some point we'll eliminate the clutter.

Certain family members had high hopes... perhaps this year I'd be mature enough to appreciate the concept of 'tasteful' and say no to certain things.

After all, my daughter is an adult. Do we still need to adorn our tree with the baby shoes she wore as a 2-year-old?

Well, of course we do! Are we gonna get into that argument again? 

Finishing touches!

I am only a horder when it comes to Christmas. I can't part with an ornament no matter how old, how tacky, or how utterly useless. Been collecting them all of my life.

This Snowman S'more rests on faux chocolate and a graham cracker, celebrating our love of campfires.

I even kept the Sesame Street ornaments we created with L's toys... by tying nooses around their little necks!! At the time, it didn't feel nearly as cruel as it sounds today.

Plus, it worked pretty well... Bert and Ernie still swing from the branches of our tree 20 years later.
Some of these ornaments are actually quite pretty! And, heartwarming ~ I know you'll appreciate the garden gloves!

Squeezed together, they somehow get along ~ pixies and penquins, ice skates and gum balls.

Hula Girls and Washington State Ferries commemorate some of our travels.

As do the tiny NYC taxi cabs.

It wouldn't be my tree without a prancing pony, or two.

And, plentiful frosty blues.

Cats with their fiddles.
And, cows jumping over the moon.

Tinsel is a must have. And, happy bubble lights. (That should give Martha Stewart fits. )

I guess you might say we're into quantity vs. quality though I saved the best for last!

My beloved piano man ~ the very first ornament I ever purchased scores the strongest branch at the top of the tree.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pasha's Christmas Cookies

Moscow Basilica
Strange but true: I've worked full-time, for ten years, with a man I've never met or even spoken to. That's because he lives in Moscow and neither one of us feel like affording that long distance bill.

We freelance together. He's my designer/programmer. I email him junk, he emails me stuff, somehow we put it all together and make it look pretty. (Long live the internet.)

I've never met him, but I did meet one of his co-workers a few years back. We taught Costya how to talk 'Midwesterner' ~ the secret meanings of those unique terms... such as thingamajig and whatchamacallit. In the beginning, when I asked Pasha to 'schnoodle' the design a bit he thought we were off our rockers. 'Twas a happy day and a nice breakthrough when he started speaking Minnesotan. :)

Every year, I send Pasha a Christmas card. He never gets them but I keep sending them anyway. I figure, if Putin stays in power long enough he might figure out how to make his postal service work. Until then, I imagine the KGB is compiling a huge secret file on my strange activities...

Russian Snowball Cookie Recipe - Makes 3 dozen
(Российский Рецепт Печенья Снежка)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
How To:
  1. Cream butter and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Combine powdered sugar and flour; stir into the butter mixture.
  3. Mix in the chopped walnuts.
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes @ 350 degrees F.
  6. When cool, roll in a second dusting of powdered sugar.
* Dough will appear very dry. The warmth of your hands, as you form the snowballs, softens the butter and moistens the cookie dough.

This is my 3rd most favorite cookie in the whole wide world. Whenever I make them, I think of my buddy, P. They melt in your mouth, light as air. If I could stop eating them long enough to put them in a box, I'd probably send him some.

С Рождеством Христовым, Пол. Я надеюсь, что Вы любите это печенье столько, сколько я делаю!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ December

Find more blogger's blossoms at Carol's place. She's the inventor of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Mini Roses enjoy the view from my sunny window.

Truth be told I don't care for my house all that much. It's old and desperately in need of updating. But, it has this bright, sunny window that always brings a smile to my face.

In fact, that's why I fell in love with the joint. That and the fact it's located across the road from a nature preserve that makes for some interesting sightseeing.

Paper Yellows
Paper Whites are ever so popular but I see too much white in winter. To get a job in my sunny window you need to be a warmer color. :)

Giganto Amarylis!

I had big ideas for this place 7 years ago. A fixer upper! I was naively excited ~ how hard could it be to fix up an old house?

Turns out, way too hard. I'm better at planting flowers than I am at pounding nails. :)

* I've got lots of indoor bloomers for GBBD, though they won't be here for long. I've grown most of these little darlings for Christmas gifts.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cookie Cutter Creativity

Back when I had a real job... whenever I wasn't doing a good enough job... my boss would crab at my lack of creativity and accuse me of taking a cookie cutter approach.

That was a confusing way to insult me because I've tried to make perfectly consistent cut out cookies since my daughter was a baby and it's a whole lot harder than it looks.

This is my theory as to why most of us leave the creative cookie cutting to Pillsbury:

After we turn 40, we figure out that women's magazines are filled with re-touched photos of flawed people.

Once we realize that Angelina Jolie could very well be fat and ugly in real life, we feel a whole lot better about ourselves.

For some odd reason, we haven't quite accepted the fact that food photography gets the same specialty treatment.

I can assure you that it does.

I once spent 16 hours at a photo shoot because a far too meticulous art director needed to place the peas in the pasta salad in precisely the right spots.

While I suppose that works for magazines, it's no fun at all in real life.

So, perhaps we could just ignore those unrealistic standards. Haul out the cookie cutters, roll up our sleeves and think... Picasso, Dali, and Pollock ~ Oh, yeah! Most definitely Jackson Pollock!

Because there are a whole lot of creative masters out there who happily failed Art Class 101.

Simple Sugar Cookies
No matter how they look, they all taste delightful. This recipe makes 3 dozen average size cookies or 1 gigantic cookie sculpture (in case you'd like to pay tribute to Gaudi!)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1.25 teaspoons baking powder

Meet my Cookie Monsters:

    How to:
    1. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla.
    2. Add flour and baking powder in intervals. (Dough will seem too dry but it will improve when chilled.)
    3. Divide dough into four equal parts and refrigerate about an hour.
    4. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper, 1/4 inch thick for crisp cookies or 1/3 inch thick for soft cookies.
    5. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and and bake for 7-8 minutes @ 375 F.
    Hot Tip!

    Be sure to eat lots of cookie dough.

    This dramatically reduces the amount of time you spend baking the cookies.

    * Cookies need no adjustments when baking at high altitude.