Monday, September 26, 2011

Mish Mashin' Mondays

Perennial Snapdragons, one of the cheeriest flowers in my autumn garden.
May I just say...?

This was one glorious autumn weekend! Though I had to fight tooth and nail to make it happen.

Over-achieving John Cabot Roses are still budding ~ into their 4th flowering month.
I'm odd [on many levels] but my top oddity ~ the one that makes other people c-c-c-crazy ~ is how sometimes I desperately need some down time.

As in, alone time.

Helianthus, perennial sunflowers. Had I deadheaded, she might have gifted with more blossoms.
I imagine that's the introvert in me. Hard to explain to those extroverts skulking about. Doubly hard to explain without hurting those dear friends' feelings.

Thankfully, wild Coneflowers saw the need for more color and came to my rescue.
Do you ever feel like this?  How it might be awfully convenient if cell phones were never invented? ('Cause, unlike landlines, they know you're not picking up.)

At the very least, they should offer a 50% off plan for weirdos like me who prefer to make calls, not necessarily receive them.

Blanket flowers, Catmint, and one last Pincushion threatening a bloom.
So, I'm feeling a tad bit guilty about saying, Oh, sorry... Super busy! (When I wasn't at all.) But, sometimes a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.

And, that scheme was a huge success. I managed to schedule absolutely nothin' for the entire weekend. Which gives most normal folks the yawns. But, I haven't had time off like that in... well, never.

Which means there's nothing worth reporting. Except for this...  

Mind-boggling science experiment!

Most beloved kitty: Bright eyes now match his bushy tail.
My sweet kit cat, Buddy, has been battling an eye infection. And, I've been battling the need to take him to the vet -- because visiting the vet really stresses him out. (And, I've got the scars to prove it!)

So, I tried that home recipe of 1 TBS apple cider vinegar rubbed into the nape of his neck. And, whaddyaknow. It works! Trust me, I was more skeptical than you are but 1) it worked on a pretty serious eye infection. 2) in 48 hours and 3) for some odd reason he didn't try to fight me when I poured that stuff on his head.

Hollyhock seeds: Want some??
Last but not least!
I've harvested a ton of Mom's heirloom Hollyhock seeds. Want some?

Tip: If you experience rust on hollyhocks, remove the stalks and all debris early in the fall, after they are finished flowering. Rust is a fungus that overwinters in hollyhocks, causing problems the following summer.

* Mish Mash Mondays is the brainchild of my dear friend, Monica ~ whom I haven't chatted with in awhile. Because she, like me, is ignoring her phone. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lavender Soap

My first career, fresh out of college, was owning a retail store. Intermezzo* was a hip little joint ~ with a sales strategy of everything you've never needed. 

* The intermezzo, in the 18th century, was an interlude performed between scenes of an opera, providing comic relief.
Lavender Fields ~ Mona, Utah
During my first year in business, I spent my days putzing around the bath department, concocting soaps and lotions with essential plant oils, and waiting for a customer to walk in.

Then something terrible happened. 
We were voted Twin Cities Best Gift Shop and became a roaring success.

Suddenly, I had employees to deal with and department managers to scold. When my banker said I should sell franchises, I decided to sell the damn place instead.

I learned two valuable life lessons:
  1. Success is hardly ever what it's cracked up to be.
  2. How to make soap.

You don't really need to grow Lavender in order to make soap. However! There are over 300 varieties of Lavender in the world and every one of them would look breathtaking in your garden.

TIP: The fragrance of English Lavender (Lavendula Angustifolia) is sweeter than their hybrid cousins, the Lavandins. This essential oil is wonderful for aromatherapy and perfume.

Lavender ~ Ever so easy to grow:
Choose a garden spot with good drainage and lotsa sun. Once established, she's a hardy, drought tolerant perennial - perfect for rock gardens.  

But, she doesn't start out that way.  Water her every 2 days and she'll jump for joy. Try a liquid, organic fertilizer when you water transplants. It helps her adjust to new surroundings.

In my area, our heavy clay soil causes problems. Work the soil well. It should be so loose you can dig it with your hands. Two inches of sand mulch will moderate soil temperature, reflecting heat and light up toward the plant.

Hot temperatures create more fragrant blooms. Severe pruning in early spring (to 2/3 of its size, leaving 2 inches of green above woody stems) stimulates beautiful growth. Remove ALL of the blossoms in fall. Because dried lavender will make every BFF you have a tiny bit happier.

(Finally! A post that holds some value...) 
 Let's just file this one under: Itsabout time.

Lavender Oatmeal Soap
* Oatmeal is a natural humectant, wonderful for dry skin. Lavender has a delightful, relaxing fragrance. This soap makes a rich, creamy lather and lasts forever. Makes about 45 bars.

Create a lavender infusion by pouring hot water over 1 cup lavender flowers for about 10 minutes. Set aside. Drain excess water before adding to soap.

Soap Ingredients
  • 128 fl oz palm oil
  • 25 fl oz coconut oil
  • 25.5 fl oz lye
  • 17.25 fl oz water
  • 100ml lavender essential oil
  • Organic rolled oats – oats will provide texture to your soap. (Begin with one cup, use your own judgement.)
~ I'm getting all scientific on you because, contrary to dress sizes, when it comes to soaps, measurements really do matter.

How to:
  1. Melt palm and coconut oils to 113 degrees
  2. Add lye and water
  3. Stir until trace*
  4. Add essential oil, lavender flowers and oats at trace
  5. Pour into mold
  6. Allow to set for about 3 days after pouring
  7. Pop from molds and slice into bars
* No changes to ingredients, or process, when making soap at high altitude. (Soap might take a little longer to cure.)
** 'To trace' means well-mixed with no streaks of remaining oil.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Pandora's Box o' Fun

"A vacation is what you take when can no longer take what you've been taking."
Stealing a kiss from the handsome-est dude on the trail ride.
Four years ago, I was drifting. Flatlining, to be more precise. 

Raised a wonderful daughter, sent her off to college and then knocked around a big, empty house, for an entire year, with nobody to talk to but... me. 

Heading into the Chuchillo Mountains, near Truth or Consequences, NM.
Kept asking myself the same question over and over again: Now what, Kate? Now what?

Me and my wonderful borrowed horse, Baby Rain.
'Twas my next door neighbor who saved me. She and I lied to the horse owner down the road from us. Lied, big time.

That unsuspecting woman had advertised that she leased horses to "experienced riders." So, we told her we were experts. (How hard could it be? :)

My good friend Nancy. We would never have met, were it not for our love of horses.
The fact that I put the halter on upside down was a dead give away, though we somehow cajoled this gal into leasing us two horses for the summer.

A sneaky move that opened a pandora's box of fun.

Carol. My roomie on this ride and - dig this - she wears Harry Potter pajamas. I was so jealous!
Horses, whether male or female, behave like impetuous teenage girls. They are frustrating, stubborn, moody, and ~ quite often ~ for sale! Because they don't always behave themselves when you need their undivided attention.

They bring out the Mom in you... Suddenly someone needed me again.

There's always one show off in the bunch. :)
In the beginning, everyone called horses my midlife crisis. And, they were probably right.

But, here's the deal. Even when it comes to an alleged crisis, there's safety in numbers. On my very first trail ride, I met a fun group of women who called themselves the SADDLE SORE-ORITY.

And, whaddyaknow... These women had been looking for something new to do ~ their kids, like mine, were away at college, making it much harder to meddle in their lives.

Los Alamos nuclear engineer. Cowgirl at heart.
Beginning a new hobby opens more doors than you'd ever imagine. I joined an entire world of like-minded people I'd never have met, where it not for this new-found passion.

Our handsome guide and his sidekick apprentice.
Have you looked into horse vacations? How long did it take to recover from sticker shock?

Here's a little known secret: 
It does NOT cost a fortune to enjoy this type of adventure. 

You simply need to Google your little heart out ~ search for true benefit trail rides vs. tourist traps looking to make a fast buck. (These benefit trail rides often rent horses.)

In a town of 12 people (not kidding)... we discovered this tiny Catholic Church.
I rode a borrowed horse. Stayed in a comfy lodge. 5 days, meals included, live entertainment and dancing nightly. (May I just say that learning the two-step is harder than it sounds??? I kept turning it into a 3-step.) And the total cost was..... $475.

All of which went to support the Black Range Horse Camp for kids.

* Full Disclosure: The food was terrible. I mean really and truly terrible. (Leftover spaghetti for breakfast.) But, the camaraderie made up for everything. And, hey! I lost a pound or two...

Friday, September 09, 2011

Time to Skeedaddle

On vacation... Chihenne Ranch, here we come!

Check out my groovy new Austin Powers Riding Socks!
I want a garden that looks this gaudy.

See ya in a week! ;)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wordless Wednesdays: Splish Splashin' Freestyle

Summer practice session for the U.S. Ski Team ~ Freestyle Olympic Aerials. (I live on that hill off in the distance. :)

For more Wordless Wednesday participants click here.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Let's Take A Walk

Say hello to my happy spot.
Mirror Lake, in the High Uintas:

I live pretty high up in the mountains. Higher still are the aptly named High Uintas about 40 miles from me. We sneak up there on a regular basis ~ to beat the heat.

This glorious glacial lake starts celebrating summer... right about the time we're saying bye-bye to the same dang season.

Just wanted to share ~ in case you're goofing around doin' nuttin' like me, on this Labor Day weekend.

Doin' nuttin' is kinda fun. I'm thinkin' I might make a full-time job of it.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Sayonara to Summer

Wild 4 O'Clocks
Brrr... chilly last night... donned a jacket to stay warm as I was lounging on the porch, saying bye-bye to this busiest of seasons. 

It being Labor Day weekend, summer is technically over, though this cowgirl has her fingers crossed for a long, leisurely Autumn.

It's Sedum's time to shine.
No grand wishes for the season to end. Simply delighted to say good-bye to summer chores ~ I've run out of steam.

Autumn could be my favorite season, were it not for the fact that it's a precursor to winter. When blossoms grow weary, horseback riding winds down... And, this ex-skier, who still lives in a ski resort, starts fretting over how to keep busy. 

The last of the late-blooming Phlox.
Two months from now, when the cold winds blow, I'll wonder why I ever had the nerve to complain...

I whined, throughout June, when the rainy weather refused to cooperate. 

In July, I threw a fit about how the weeds are the busiest bloomers in my ill-kept gardens. (Must be the rains. Couldn't possibly be my fault!)

After that, a major bitch session that August is simply too hot to handle. 

One little straggler: Knautia
My oldest and dearest friend came for a visit last week. And, whaddyaknow, I whined about that, too. Why didn't she come 2 weeks ago when the flowers were perfect? 

Is it just me? Or do flowers always put on the prettiest show when I'm the only one here to see it.

Worn out Coneflowers
In spite of it being the busiest summer on record, 'twas a season filled with great days in the garden. Adventures galore, with my beloved horses. Memorable months with friends old and new.

Here's hoping y'all have a lovely, lazy, non-laborious Labor Day.