Friday, December 31, 2010

Peaceful New Year

"We all need beauty.
Places to play in and pray in, 
Where Nature may heal and cheer..
And give strength to body and soul alike." 
- John Muir

Here's to a peaceful New Year. A cozy chair. A crackling fire. And, a stack of gardening magazines to take the chill out of a cold, winter day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blessed Beast Recipes!

Bad Dog has zero sense of humor when it comes to Christmas preparations.

A gentle snow falls outside my window, muffling the sounds of passers by. Everything feels prettier, and infinitely more magical, when fresh snowflakes decorate the garden.

A holiday gift of winter white Hydrangeas.

I suppose it seems strange that a passionate planter, such as myself, would have a love affair with winter but that's probably because my winters are milder than most.

Stepping outdoors is not a death defying act as it sometimes was in frigid Minnesota. Utah winters are downright balmy. Plentiful snows come as quiet decoration vs. the arctic blasts and bitter winds, common in the Midwest.

Gifts of Paper Whites grown for my gardening friends.

And, I'm particularly loving this morning's snowfall because it coincides perfectly with my own self-prescribed break in the action.

It is the Saturday before Christmas. And where are YOU with YOUR to-do list?

I hate to make you all jealous and such but mine's done. Because this is just how weird I am ~ I set myself a deadline that's a good week ahead of the real one.

Normally, I'm a red purist but this peachy keen Poinsettia was irresistible.

The gift I wanted to give myself this year may seem kind of silly. Possibly even selfish. I wanted some quiet time to focus on the wanna dos vs. the gotta dos.

To bake some cookies for the horses. And, maybe for the humans, too. To try my luck at a few homemade bath products for skier friends. To take my poor, neglected Bad Dog up to the top of Round Valley for our first snowshoe of the season.

To have some time to simply.... Goof. Off.

Here's hoping you can find some time to do that, too. :D

~~~~~~~~ 'Tis the Season: Meg and Bad Dog Approved Recipes ~~~~~~~~~~

Oat and Molasses Horse Cookies
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 cups grated apples or applesauce
  • 4 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
*Your kids might not like these but my 'kids' jump for joy.
Bake @350 for about 20 minutes

Bad Dog's Bacon Biscuits
Roll into bite-size balls and bake @350 for about 45 minutes.
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups crumbled bacon bits
  • 1/2 cup corn oil
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup water

And, for the kitties? Save yourself the trouble! Nothin' beats a fresh container of cat nip...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ December, 2010

 Our front deck. The coffee spot is a tad chilly this morning.

Bloom Day Greetings from Ski Country! 

Where life would be sad, indeed, without a warm, sunny window.

I could not believe my ears this morning when the news reported that it's... the 15th?? 

Huh? I was quite certain I had many more weeks 'til Christmas. (Denial is underrated. When I'm in my denial zone I'm hardly ever stressing out...)

Poinsettia's 3rd Christmas @ Chez Kate

Though I don't why that date was such a surprise. All signs are pointing to the fact that it's later than I thought. Including this 3-year old Poinsettia (grows lush green leaves, outdoors, throughout the summer, comes indoors in September.) She is madly producing festive red leaves in prep for the big day.

The Timely Amaryllis (Most are still in bud stage.)

I should apologize for my long absence from visiting blogs and such sporadic writing on my own humble effort. Life feels a tad out of control this holiday season.

 Edna, the Christmas Cactus I've treasured since college, is laden with bright pink blooms.

But, enough about that...

Discovering that Christmas is only about a week away wasn't the biggest shocker on the news.

I also heard that blogger buddies in the Deep South are shivering mightily while here we are, much farther north, peeling off jackets because of the toasty temps.

 Please don't yawn at Ms. Cyclamen. While as common as Dandelions, she is my second favorite indoor flowering plant. Can't live without her.

Strange days. I hope your tender southern perennials are cozy under heaps of blankets and that these bizarre weather patterns sort themselves out very very soon.

Blinding Pink is the name of the game this holiday season. :D

As always, pay a visit to Carol of May Dream Gardens, the clever inventor of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Tschotske Tree

At night, we've got a pretty tree.

During the day, it looks a little outrageous.

Like some crazy display in a second hand shop. Cluttered with a ridiculous number of ornaments that have no rhyme or reason to the outsider looking in.

I suppose that's what happens when you've been collecting holiday ornaments for what seems like forever. The tree keeps getting bigger and bigger. Chapters of your life become more apparent.

I've had a few tasteful years, when I purchased super duper expensive collectibles. I've enjoyed many more years, when cheapskate tschotskes (like this s'more, a favorite of mine) took center stage.

And, I'll bet it's like that with everybody. When you haul out the boxes of ornaments, each and every year, it's a guaranteed jaunt down memory lane.

Because ornaments hold all sorts of special memories. Of the places we've been, people we knew and the people we used to be, way back when we decided to buy them.

Around here, it's a new ornament for every year...
commemorating life's adventures, big and small.

When we learned how to fish:

And, skate...

And, ski:

When we saved up our pennies. 
For a much needed city fix:

When I moonlighted.

As a bartender!

To afford the cottage:

Where we could garden.

And, ride horses.

Forever and a day. 

PS: Invest in some bubble lights. You'll be glad you did. :D

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Winter Whites

Spider Lilies

Are you a lover of white flowers? I'll confess, I am not. I see so much white, in the form of mountain snow, that the thought of planting white flowers never really snaps my socks.

Moth Orchid

But, hey, I'm a Libra, and we're perpetually undecided.

So, after visiting Lona's pretty blog yesterday (she had an entire post of stunning white flowers) it got me thinking about how much prettier our gardens can be when we entertain the notions of others.

Christmas Azalea

Left to my own devices, things would be a sea of pink and blue. But, my daughter loves white so I'll include a couple zzzzzzzzzz, ever so dull, white perennials in the flower beds just for her.

African Violet

And, if you catch me on a good day, I might grudgingly agree with Hocking Hills ~ white flowers pop like nobody's business against my sea of blue.

Christmas Cactus

What I didn't realize, until yesterday, is that white pops indoors just as beautifully.

And, that I am clearly in the minority when it comes to white flowers!

Because all the pretty blossoms in this post are past holiday gifts from white flower lovin' friends.

Plum Bonsai

Full Disclosure!
* I'm not nearly as popular as it might appear. :) Some of these whities are 5 or 6 years old. I expend a great deal of effort trying keep gifted perennials alive. Yep. I'm just that insecure. I have nightmares about the awkward moment when some friend pays me a visit, glances at the sunny window, and demands:

Hey! Where's that white something or other I bought you? 

Oh, it died.

And, you feel qualified to be a garden blogger???


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

12th Month

11 months out of the year, my Christmas Cactus is the ugliest houseplant imaginable. But that 12th month? Oh, that 12th month makes up for everything.

I hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. That's the whole point of this holiday, right? The biggest stresser is conjuring up a new, flimsy excuse as to why, oh why, you need an extra slice of pie.

And, now? Let the madness begin...

Paper Yellows

Depending upon the holiday task at hand, I am either light years ahead of the game or so far behind it’s doubtful I’ll ever catch up.

Paper Yellows (be still my heart) opened this morning, gracing a dreary indoor landscape with some much needed color.

Their original career path ~ cheery Christmas gifts ~ is certainly not gonna happen. They'll run out of steam long before then but I can’t really blame them for the extra-early flowering.

‘Twas I who jumped the gun on the planting of the indoor bulbs.
Amaryllis bulbs
Yeah, yeah.. ugly now but just you wait a month or two! 

If only I had stuck with that program. After a burst of energy with the Narcissus (Paper Yellows,) I slipped right back into my procrastinating ways.

A month blew by. Now I find myself staring at a basket of Amaryllis bulbs, wishing I had a magic wand. They take their sweet lazy time at giving forth a flower, so I may have to give up on the idea of gifting these blossoms and keep them all to myself. Hmmm… are you spotting a pattern here…. ?

Elsewhere in the sunny window, holiday lovers are coming to life...

Edna, my ancient Christmas Cactus (since college!) is raining bright fuchsia blossoms. {top pic}

Not sure if that’s because she’s highly delighted for the holidays or if she’s feeling intense competition from this new little brat we purchased last winter:

New baby Christmas Cactus

Darling Sybil is demonstrating her schizophrenic holiday behavior, too. Somewhere, deep down, this 3 year old Poinsettia knows she's supposed to turn red for Christmas:

Terribly Confused Poinsettia

I just don't have the heart to lock up my poinsettias in a dark closet for 10 cruel weeks so they'll drop their leaves, go berserk and come back thoroughly red. Around these parts, we settle for red/green halfsies, instead.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy, happy...

Pre-Holiday chores got y'all stressed out?
Click here and be magically delivered to Grandma's house.

50 pound turkey? Check. Bushel of sweet taters? Check. Crispy, crunchy runner beans? Oh, yeah. Half dozen pie pumpkins? Hmmm. Pumpkin Pie? That was soooo last year.... try baking up one of these goodies instead!

Bourbon Pecan Sweet Tater Pie
- 1 frozen pie shell
- 2 cups roasted sweet potatoes, peeled and shmooshed
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
- 1 cup toasted pecans (stove top, minute or two, teflon pan)
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup

Uno: Pre-bake your pie crust for about 10 minutes @ 425 (F).
Dos: Toss the top list into a large bowl. Grab your trusty mixer and beat until fluffy.
Tres: Pour into the pie shell and bake @ 375 (F) for 20 minutes.
Cuatro: Mix up the nuts, butter and maple syrup. Pour over the pie. Pop it back in the oven for another 25-30 minutes.
Cinco, cinco, seis: Have a slice. Or two. Or, three! Hey, it's the holidays. Enjoy it while ya can.

Here's to a lovely weekend, this proverbial calm before the storm. And, happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

* If you click that top link, you'll receive your very own Thanksgiving card from me to you, designed by Jacquie Lawson, a goddess among card creators, even if she does make me pay for a subscription.
** This yummy dessert is adapted from a recipe I discovered on Mine, naturally, contains more booze. (Just kidding. That was a test to see if you're actually reading this post...)
*** The Spanish bit is from an old song, from an old band, and if you cannot recall it, then clearly you have better taste in music than me. :)