Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday's Freebie: Sunset! Saved the Best for Last!

 I'm giving away a copy of the fabulous Sunset Gardening Book.

Devoted the whole of last night to packing. I'm heading out on a week long horseback trail ride tomorrow morning (at 4 a.m. Good Lord. Who's dumb idea was that...?) And it never ceases to amaze me just how much packing is involved when you travel with a horse. Saddles and blankets and bridles and hundreds of pounds of hay. Don't forget those carrots. Wouldn't kill ya to bring a bag of apples, too. Seeing as how I'm doing all the work and you're just sitting up there in the saddle...! {That's my horse speaking.}

Sable, Phantom and Ginger. My riding friend & I have look alike Appaloosas!
It's so cute when you pack for a horse trip. They lean against the gate, excited... anxious to go. Not the slightest bit curious as to where we're going. It's off to Sedona, AZ for an ultra-civilized benefit trail ride. Have been working like a little fiend getting ready for this.

Taking care of everybody's needs first (why, oh why, do I do that?) So, now I can take care of me.

And, while I'm gone......

I thought y'all might want to arm wrestle for The Ultimate Gardening Guide!

This week's Freebie is The {New} Sunset Western Garden Book...

... which tips the scales at about 10 pounds.

Sports thousands of gorgeous photos. A full encyclopedia of any and all flowers you could ever hope to grow.

Plus (be still my heart) great native plant info and tasty veggies that do well in our western soils.
They should come up with some sort of Perennial Pulitzer Prize for books like this.  It's just that good.

Sunset gave me this book and I really should have kept it. Because there I go again! Give, give, give. Why am I such a giver? But, I digress...

Sunset gave me this fab book to read and review. I give it 2 thumbs up and now I'm giving it to you.

But, ya gotta work for it...... leave a comment and DIVULGE.

What's the one garden flower that you simply cannot live without? Leave it in a comment. Bonus points for telling us why. Triple bonus points for Latin! (The scientific flower name.) For instance, I love Baby's Breath but true flower geeks aka those who speak Latin call Baby's Breath ~ Gypsophila paniculata.
* It will be way easier to find those Latin names once you win this book.

The New Sunset Western Garden Book:
  • Get plant ideas for any type of garden.
  • Ultra-helpful tips on making the most of a micro-climate.
  • Details on heirloom veggies and how to improve your harvest.
  • Plus, some very cool garden projects.
And - Sunset has also launched a new Plant Finder Database which is very cool. Click here to check it out.

See ya in a week.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Belated Bloom Day Orchid Show

Re-Blooming Butterfly Orchid #1

I'm so happy.

Re-Blooming Butterfly Orchid #2
Like sliding across the kitchen floor in my stocking feet happy.

Re-Blooming Butterfly Orchids #3, 4 & 5!!!
The sun is shining. The snow is melting. Could it be? Could it be?

Is it finally springtime? Garden time? Playing in the mud time? I certainly hope so. Because I'm so over winter it's not even funny.

My Christmas Cactus is still hard at it.
Could kick myself for being so absent-minded. Completely forgot about Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. (Held on the 15th of each month.)

And, I was soooo looking forward to showing off the Orchids. They look pretty enough to be store bought beauties. But, I assure you they are not. These are all re-bloomers.

I almost always have one Orchid in bloom. But, this year they took pity on me and my cabin fever. All of my girls decided to flower at the exact same time.

Say a cheer for springtime...  Here's today's moment of Zen:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Screamin' Deals, Kleinfeld Brides, and NYC

The Pond, in Central Park
Ah.... springtime in New York. Daffodils blooming, Central Park bustling...

Daffodils peek through the filthy remnants of winter.
But, there's no time to dilly dally.

Cheerful beds of Crocus greeted us along our Central Park stroll.
We're 6 months out from Ms. Peanut's (aka daughter L's) wedding day and we've already exceeded our unlimited budget.

That's a joke.

In fact, that's the running joke around these parts since every aspect of the wedding IS on a super tight budget.
No such thing as privacy in Central Park. I crashed this photo shoot. :)
But, I have frequent flier miles. AND a Priceline account. Plus (this is always surprising to people) I practically lived in New York in my younger years. And, while I find certain aspects of NYC hugely intimidating... shopping for a bargain is not one of them.

You'll find the prettiest things in the dirtiest places.
It's fun strolling along Canal Street while thieves lean in close to me and whisper words like "Channel... Dolce.." indicating designer brands are tucked in a truck in the back alley.

We did not go into the alleys. Nor did we buy any hot merchandise (much to my chagrin.)

However! I did score a stunning ~ and quite possibly not illegal ~ handbag for $38 bucks. In one of those Canal Street shops that aren't much bigger than your closet. Would have cost me $200 back home.

Way more fun than I thought it would be.
And! We said Yes to the Dress.

Have you seen that t.v. reality series by the same name? I haven't watched the show but we made an appointment there, more out of curiosity than great expectations of finding a fabulous gown.

It's called Kleinfeld's Bridal and it was every bit as cliche as you could imagine. Complete with bored cameramen, lounging in the lobby. And, mean ass Jersey girls. Oops! I mean brides to be, sending us death glares while waiting for their on-camera moments.

I'll take the solid gold apartment, please. Provided you let me garden on the roof.
It was so over the top. Felt like a huge waste of time to me... Right up until Ms. Peanut tried on what we knew instantly was The Dress. Picture perfect in every way (we're talkin' oodles and oodles of lace.)

And, now hear this! It was half the price of the dress we'd sort of liked, back in boring old Salt Lake City.

Last bastion of civility. The Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park.
I suppose you're wondering why I'm spoiling my daughter rotten flitting here and there looking for the perfect gown. Well, that's an easy one to answer. I didn't grow up in the kind of family where anyone did anything nice for me. Ever. And, so, when I became a Mom, I decided to change all that.

* 'Peanut' was my daughter's nickname when she was a little girl. I still use it, now and then, just to piss her off make her roll her eyes. :))

Friday, March 09, 2012

Friday's Freebie: Who Wants a Truly Fabulous Cookbook?

Book Give Away! Do you own cast iron cookware? That's about all I use in the kitchen. If you're a fan, you're gonna LOVE this cookbook. With recipes like... HOT LAVA CHOCOLATE CAKE what's not to love?

Veggies, eggs & more are hiding 'neath the cornbread.
A few years ago, when I was struggling with anemia, I tossed a question out into the blogosphere, asking people for advice.

Some brilliant commenter suggested I try cooking with cast iron skillets, claiming that simple switch could help my condition.

An easy enough experiment, I had plenty of cast iron cookware packed away downstairs, with the rest of my camping gear. Though it had never occurred to me to use these skillets in the kitchen.

I've always felt warm and fuzzy about cast iron cookware. It's kind of a throwback to Grandma's kitchen. Which is how I inherited mine. So, I gave it a shot. And my anemia disappeared ~ though I don't really know if it's because of the iron in the cookware. Or, the fact that the cookware inspired healthier eating. I spent way more time in the kitchen, concocting all kinds of yummy dishes. (This Cornbread Breakfast Skillet is my fave.)

A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious, American Dishes

As fellow bloggers, I imagine you're experiencing this, too... Every day I receive an email from some company asking me to read and review their product. Now don't get me wrong. I LOVE the fact that bloggers are finally getting the attention they deserve, but some of those requests are downright ridiculous...

That is not the case with The Lodge. I can (happily) sing their praises because these cast iron skillets are the same quality as the crème de la crème Le Creuset ~ for a fraction of the cost. (And, I'd be lost without 'em.)

Leave a comment if you'd like to be included in the drawing for this delightful cookbook. But, don't come crying to me if you gain weight when you win it. :)

Not just for campfires any more.
  • 2 oz. square semisweet chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 confectioners' sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 9 teaspoons flour
Melt chocolate and butter, stir in the sugar. Add eggs; then flour. Spray a small cast iron skillet (so this delightful mess doesn't stick.) Pour in this ooey-gooey goodness. Bake over hot campfire coals for 15-18 minutes. Or, in the oven at 350 (F) for approximately the same amount of time. (Use a toothpick to determine if it's done.)

Serves 4 normal people, or one uncontrollable choco-holic. {That would be me.}

The Lodge gave me this cookbook to read and review and now I'm giving it to you. Leave a comment here, on Facebook, or on Twitter to be entered into the drawing.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Mish Mashin' Monday and a Marvelous Meme

On Mondays, my Orchids enjoy a 30 minute soak in the kitchen sink.
Even when it's 30 degrees outside, I'll have my morning coffee out on the deck. (1)

Sagebrush, asleep in the snow.
There's still loads of snow on the ground and stalactite size icicles droop from the roof. But there's also a change in the air. A little warmth, a lotta melt, plus the cheery celebration of songbirds. Oh, how I love these subtle signs of spring.

Copper Moose Farm had a seed starting class on Saturday. I don't even know why I went to that. Well, actually, I do. I was so hoping it would be a loosely managed class where I could ditch the discussion and snoop around their gorgeous greenhouses. Yes, houses, plural, those lucky ducks. {Drool.} I wish I could clone myself and work for them.

Those who can't teach, do. {That would be me}
It was a very informative session, and yet another reminder of how I'm the Queen of Cutting Corners. (2) For instance, the proper way to start seeds is to begin with egg carton size thingies, then transplant them into bigger containers. Water at least twice a day during germination.

Buy those Red Solo Cups ~ popularized by gardeners long before Toby Keith admitted his drinking problem. They're 16 ounces large, so bouncing baby seedlings can produce long, strong roots.
* Poke holes in the bottom. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Poke holes in that, too. Bada Bing Bada Boom, you just created a teeny, tiny greenhouse that you only have to water once a week.
This is NOT a store bought Orchid! She's re-blooming like this!!!
I'd like to consider myself an efficiency expert. But, the truth is I have the patience of a flea. (3) And, I have the documentation to prove it! Verbatim, that sentence appeared in the very first performance review my mean-ass boss ever conducted with me. (4)

My daughter gave me these cheery Tulips. It made my day.
That's why I landed on the 16 oz cup planter idea. I do not love repetition ~ or, laborious practices of any kind. (5) Why re-plant baby seedlings in different size containers when once is enough?

This is my pet peeve, with respect to gardening books, (6), because I worry that if we make things complicated, we'll scare away first-time gardeners, thinking these chores are too time-consuming.

Poinsettia plants are reverting back to green..
Which brings me to my meme.
I'm only 3 weeks late getting on this but that's actually pretty good! Considering I'm also known as the Princess of Procrastination (7.)

Thanks, Patricia!!
This was awarded to me by my friend Patricia Tyron of Picturing Plants. Check out her blog, it's chock-full of good stuff.  

The Versatile Blogger Award asks that you share 7 random pieces of information about yourself. So, here goes:
  1. I am a guinea pig for asthma testing ~ been plagued with this ailment since I was 7.
  2. I devote 4 hours a day to volunteer projects, in addition to freelancing full-time.
  3. I'm a split personality, to say the very least. I Tivo Downton Abbey and the Walking Dead.
  4. I once spent a whole month in a rental car in Spain tracking the life and times of Salvador Dali.
  5. High Tea is my most favorite civilized past time and the primary reason why I think I should move out of Utah. (Since it doesn't exist here.)
  6. I wish Twitter, Twylah, Facebook, and Pinterest would simply disappear. (At the very least, I wish people on Pinterest would stop stealing all of my flower photography and claiming that it's theirs.)
  7. I quite often put secret little things in my blog posts to see if people are actually reading them.
Passing this meme along to:
Awake with Charm and Spirit
Canoe Corner
Garden Musings
Friko's World

* I'm only allowed to pass this to 4, otherwise there would be 100 more bloggers listed here.
Re-Blooming Pride and Joy
The Rules:
  • Post the Versatile Blogger Award to your post/blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you with a link back to his/her blog.
  • Share seven random pieces of information about yourself.
  • Include this set of rules, and
  • Forward this award to fellow bloggers and inform them with a comment on their blogs.
* Mish Mashing Mondays was the brainchild of Monica, the Garden Faerie.

    Thursday, March 01, 2012

    This Close to Paradise

    Birds of Paradise are amazing flowers.
     It is a 10 hour drive from my house to the pretty side of Los Angeles, that part that goes no further 'cause it butts up against a sapphire blue ocean. And, all along the way you feel the air get warmer, the scenery turn greener, seasons morph from the dead of winter into a lively, summer day.

    Imagine a gardening world where you can't keep these in check.
    Flowers, sunshine, no jackets needed. Why, oh why, don't I live out here?? We had one long, lovely weekend to soak it all in before heading back to Siberia.

    We took this road trip 'cause I did the coolest thing last week. Muscled my way into a Vera Wang [sold out] Wedding Dress trunk show ~ for my darling daughter. (Doesn't she look stunning?)

    I know nothing about designer labels. Though I did think it was a little odd that (before hand) they refused to tell me how much these gowns cost...

    And, even odder that they handed us champagne at 10 o'clock in the morning.

    But, hey, I'm a pretzel. I can bend. Plus, I wasn't feeling too out of my element since the second I got us an appointment at this trunk show, I bee-lined it to the Anne Taylor outlet store, hoping to find an acceptable outfit that wouldn't instantly label me as a country hick.

    I'm not fancy, I explained to the gals working there.  I lied my way into this trunk show and now I need to fit the part.

    They kindly looked over all my clothing choices, of black, grey, more black and promptly put them back on the rack.

    Then they ushered me into the dressing room to try on outrageously colorful stuff that made me shudder. I modeled the outfits while they ooh'd and aah'd. “This looks like LA,” they finally said. Delighted with my makeover.

    Which got me wondering about me as the person vs. me as the gardener. 'The Staff' outfitted me in colorful, floral tops and bright, turquoise sweaters (apparently it makes my eyes pop.) That's nothing compared to the pink and orange gardens that blind my neighbors.

    I guess, as a person, I'm more comfortable blending into the wallpaper. Though I'd like my flowers to boldly stand up and say howdy.

    * At the end of the trunk show, they wrote down on a business card the price of those dresses and slid it over to me. It felt dirty. Like I was in a Sopranos scene without the pasta. The cheapest was $5,000, the most was $8,000 and I know we could sew them for 2. (The only reason I'm mentioning prices is because I met a number of other Moms via blogs in the same situation. So, now we know. Gorgeous gowns. But, very spendy.)

    But, I'm also wondering about dying fabric. Have you ever done so? The new look this year is 'nude' ~ how hard would it be to purchase a white dress and dye it in her favorite color?

    Where there's a will, there's a way, and I know we can make this work.