Monday, November 28, 2011

A Most Wonderful Guilty Time

A gifted bouquet ~ One of the many perks to hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
I have a laundry list of things to do and at the very top of it should be... laundry. (Don't ya just hate the day after a long and lovely holiday weekend? When all of life must return to normal.)

Entertaining guests can be exhausting.
Laundry. My second most hated task on the planet.

Shopping for holiday gifts can be equally tiresome.
Vacuuming weighs in at #1 on the Damn! I hate to do this! scale. That's on today's dreary to-do list, as well.

I'd vaccuum every day if some brilliant mind would simply invent a totally silent vacuum cleaner. Whenever I see a Dyson commercial I find myself hollering at the guy on the tv. In high hopes he might hear me and stop worrying about suction.

Paper Yellows ~ as fragrant as the more common Paper Whites.
Speaking of t.v. We had a simply marvelous, couldn't be better, Thanksgiving. I hope you did, too. 

Who dares bring THIS to my party?
Burning This and That:
Playing hooky from the usual obligations, daughter L and I bustled about the kitchen... From the moment we woke up, until the second we plopped down... to enjoy that Go Ahead, Loosen Your Belt meal.

Complete with a homemade pecan pie! Not this atrocity featured on the right. Homestyle my eye...

Afterwards we watched t.v. The last time we laid around the living room watching bad movies was 2 years ago. On Christmas Day. Which was the last time we bagged our obligations and hunkered down for some serious laziness.
Store Bought Pie Perp

Holidays are always fun.

But, they can also be difficult.

So many expectations. So little time. Everyone expecting you to attend their party. Instead of the 6 or 7 other parties you've been invited to.

It makes me feel guilty. Over digging in my heels and doing my own thing. I'm not Catholic but I wonder if should be... I carry enough guilt to qualify for the nunnery. Though I highly doubt they'd accept me. (Given past sins.)

In spite of my silly fretting I will say... last Thursday was a most wonderful time. And, I think we've started a brand new tradition. Of doing absolutely nuttin.

It's fun to do your own thing.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

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

Here's to a lovely holiday, this proverbial calm before the storm.

Happy Thanksgiving to One & 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...)


Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Toast to Biodynamic Wine

Growing up, we never celebrated Thanksgiving with wine, champagne or anything else really fun. There was no religious excuse surrounding this decision. We just didn't do it.

And, I always thought that was a huge mistake. After all, we were living in a crappy, little town in South Dakota. Just looking out the window could drive ya to drink!

Not to mention the family tensions. Mom had 11 sisters and every one of them had a 'better' idea on how to cook the turkey. God forbid they could ever enjoy a big group hug. (Champagne Cocktails could have easily improved this situation.)

Everything is more palatable when we all get along. And, that's why I'm so fond of the concept of Biodynamic Wine.

It's a nice, fancy term for returning to our roots, finally listening to our elders and farming the good old-fashioned way. Organic is great but Biodynamic takes things to a whole new level of grooviness! By making the land self-sustaining.

Cover crops return nitrogen to the soil. Trees, birds and bees all play a role. Essentially, the acreage becomes a nature preserve surrounding the vines.

Thanksgiving is Thursday ~ and half the nation is expected to show up with a side dish and a bottle of wine.

In the spirit of getting along, bring one from a Biodynamic Vineyard.

Why? Because the weather has been downright nutty. Talk at the Thanksgiving dinner table will most assuredly turn to global warming...

At which point, you can show off your super duper, earth-friendly bottle of wine, brag up biodynamics and act all smug!

Have a happy day however you choose to celebrate. :)


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ November, 2011

Rescued Geraniums
This Garden Blogger's Bloom Day is all about annuals! Well, at least the lucky two that I've turned into "perennials."  As in... I wonder just how long I can encourage you to bloom?

Call me a softie, but I just couldn't bear to let them freeze to death. Winter came early this year. They're as delighted as me to be parked indoors, comfy and cozy.

I'm head over heels in love with her peachy color. :)
In the sunny window ~ lots of buds but very few blossoms.

Edna's gettin' bizzy.
Edna, the Christmas Cactus that I've had since college (nearly ancient, now) is working 24/7 on her version of a holiday greeting.

Kids these days... always trying to one up the elders.
This is Lucy, a younger Christmas Cactus I received as a gift a couple years ago. The poor kid is clearly possessed. Timing her blossoms for Halloween.

Perhaps inspired by the snow, I have one re-blooming Butterfly Orchid. (Plus, a whole bunch more on the way.)

And, that's about it. A sorry state of affairs that I hope will improve very soon. This was 'compost year' when every happy houseplant that had bugs, or wasn't doing a good enough flower job got the proverbial axe.

Pay a visit to Carol @ May Dream Gardens.

She's the gracious host of this monthly meme, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.

From her website you can connect with all sorts of talented gardeners ~ many of whom are living in kinder climates than me.

Now who's up for some snowshoeing??


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seriously Smart Stroganoff

Bye Bye Daylight Savings Time :(
That first week... after the end of our blessed daylight savings time... When darkness kicks in around 4 p.m. When it feels exceptionally cold and miserable ~ even when it's not.. Well, that's the hardest time of the year for me to watch what I eat.

I stop gardening. I stop riding horses. You couldn't pay me enough to go for a hike. And, yes, I do drive to the post office. And, it's only a mile away.

I stop moving. And, begin to blimp.

I desperately need want heavy foods and cozy casseroles and why not add a whole stick of butter? Fat tastes good. And, it makes me happy! Right up until I hoist myself into last year's ski pants.

This recipe evolved out of necessity ~
1) Real beef stroganoff is so high in fat I had to kick it off the menu. Permanently.
2) I'd be lost without an oven. I rarely, if ever, have the time to monitor a stove top recipe.

The Path of Least Resistance ~
'Low Fat' is a very bad word in this household. Therefore, I never utter it out loud. No Yolk noodles are lower in fat, as is the soup. So far, nobody at the dinner table has figured this out.

Low Fat Beef Stroganoff Casserole
It doesn't look nearly this pretty when I make it.
  • 1 lb. beef chuck roast cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 bunch, chopped green onions, tops and all.
  • 1 container sliced Baby Bella mushrooms.
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic. Or, 2 tsp. roasted garlic that comes in the glass jars.
  • 1 can fat-free cream of mushroom soup + water.
  • 3 tbs. Worcestershire sauce.
  • 1/2 package No Yolk pasta noodles.
In a non-stick pan, with cooking spray, stir fry the beef, garlic and shrooms for about 5 minutes. Don't bother boiling the noodles, they'll cook in the sauce. Add the other goodies, put this mess in your favorite casserole dish, covered. Bake @350 for approximately 30 minutes.

* If you do this up right, the whole thing should come in at around 7 grams of fat, per serving, which is about 20 grams of fat less than the real deal.  

Buon Appetito!


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Wordless Wednesdays: Park City's Cute Cottages

The Old Town neighborhood, in Park City, Utah, is crammed full of cuteness: refurbished Silver Miner Shacks from way back when. (Most on the historic registrar.)

This is Bad Dog's favorite. The Love Your Pet Store:

* For more Wordless Wednesday participants click here!


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Some Like it Cold

There's snow on the garden and change in the air. Pleased as punch I had the foresight to play hooky yesterday. Did absolutely nothing productive. Simply savoring what was likely the last warm autumn day to be had around these parts.

Apple Blossom Amaryllis
I keep marveling at our weather. How it's strangely predictable this year. Woke to snowflakes gently falling, and silence, having been abandoned by my sweet as pie, yet aptly named, Bad Dog.

I hear him on the hill, behind our house, barking like crazy... Perhaps in celebration of his favorite season. (He dearly loves to slide down that hill, head first in the snow. No one believes me until they witness it, first hand, but he really does do that!)

Try to find Amaryllis bulbs that have just barely started to grow.
Here I sit... sipping tea in front of a fire with grand plans to turn my house into an Amaryllis warehouse by day's end. I love Amaryllis bulbs ~ and, they make highly affordable holiday gifts.

Who can resist such big festive flowers? Plus, you gotta love a bulb with such chutzpah. She'll sprout in a dark box, without soil, or water, or TLC of any kind.

They lean to the sun. Rotate the pot each day so stalks don't bend.
I began this Amaryllis tradition awhile back, when I was beset by a bad budget. Spotted bulbs at Walmart for $5 a piece, and thought... hey! The bulbs, of course, don't look like much. But my little trick is to plant them 6 weeks before Christmas... delivering, not the bulb, but a pot of dinner plate size flowers inspiring lots of oohs and aahs.

To make them behave...
~ Plant in super small pots. About an inch or two bigger than the bulb. They'll grow faster and bloom quicker.

Carefully follow these steps to make sure that $5 Walmart bulb isn't dead as a doornail.
  1. Wait until the shopping aisle is empty.
  2. Open the box!
Patience is a virtue! It takes about 6 weeks from bulb planting to first flowers.
You can buy larger, higher quality Amaryllis bulbs from nurseries and they will produce bigger flowers. But, these are affordable. And, they're gorgeous. Therefore I think they'll do the trick.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Odd Bulbs

I'm a sucker for Camassia
Most definitely a first...

Allium Hair
I hesitate to acknowledge this...

Fears of jinxing and such...
Allium Fireworks

This weekend, it felt as if Mother Nature was on my side.

(At long last! :)

Minutes after I'd given a loving pat to the soil, covering the brand new bulbs that I needed like a hole in my head ...

Grey clouds stretched across our blue skies and a quiet rain finished up this last project of the season.
Monsella Tulip

It's been a dry autumn. I'd regretted turning off the outside faucets.

How very kind of Mother Nature to water my bulbs.
Replete Daffodil

This time of year, most every gardener I know is a card-carrying member of the I Dread Winter Club.

I'm a bit of a rebel in that respect.

I'll confess, I'm looking forward to some lazy days. Curling up with a good book and enjoying a whole lotta quiet time.

Allium Schubertii
My gardens were a ton of hard work this summer.

Flatly refused to plant bulbs because of that.

But, there's always somebody stirring up trouble. 

Allium Unifolium
Sat down, over coffee, with a friend of mine who was clearly in cahoots with every  bulb company on the planet.

Brightly colored catalogs stacked about her kitchen.

All I gotta do is look at a picture and bam! I'm slapping down a credit card for one gotta have it, or another. No matter how crowded my gardens, seems there's always room for new bulbs.

Tip: Mountain critters hate Alliums (onion) bulbs but they dearly love a good Tulip. I plant rings of Allium bulbs around the Tulips and it works like a charm. They can't find 'em! I'm pretty sure I heard those rodents groaning when they saw what I was up to.


Bonus Photo :)))))

Aftermath of Halloween:

My oh, so, creative darling daughter was Tippi Hedron, this year.

You remember her, don't you? Star of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller movie that L calls The [Angry] Birds!