Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year Doggie

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cowgirl Christmas

Wishing all the best to you and yours...
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Walks

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Wine Charms

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pretzels for Alex

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Santa Baby

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Done and done.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ice Ages and the new Frostbite Falls

The sun is shining... no birds are singing. But, honestly? Any bird in her right mind would have flapped those mighty wings down to Florida long before now.

A fine, fine reason to complain about those Florida folks.. :)
I know I would have flown south ~ iffen I had free wings to do so. Every day I check flights to a kinder climate.

'Cause I'll take this view:

Over this view, any day.

Geez Louise it's been bitterly cold around these parts. Which I can wholeheartedly attest to. Seeing as how I waited until it was 5 below zero to decorate my big boy spruce tree. (I didn't know it was that cold out there until my hands went numb.)

The wee baby spruce was the first tree I planted when we bought this house... he's finally reached a size where I felt he should strut his Christmas-y stuff.

But, like I said... the sun is shining. The weather IS warming.

The fragrance of delicate Paperwhites adds to the lightness of the air. Feels as if we're all thawing out after a long winter's rest.

So whaddya do when you're housebound? Why you bake, of course.

Dozens upon dozens of delectable goodies.

I survived this marathon bread and cookie baking. Barely. How do chefs do that? Focusing on the fact that these are gifts and therefore we should not be taking a nibble out of each and every one of them.

I personally think taste tasting is a critical component of this chore.

Stay warm, my friends. 

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Orchid Bouquet

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cranberry Apple Pie

Fun Facts to Know & Tell:
I have never tried Pumpkin Pie.

Whenever I mention that at a holiday dinner, someone inevitably takes the fork that was recently inside their mouth and pokes it at me, hoping I'll try a bite. I don't like, or dislike, Pumpkin Pie.

I simple prefer pretty little cranberries to messy orange pumpkins, filled with slimey junk and ghostly white seeds. Once you try my pie, you will, too.

Cranberry Apple Pie
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh, lovely, cranberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 5 sliced Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 Pillsbury pie shell (Don't bother making your own. Face it. They're better at this than we are.)
Luscious Topping
  • 1 cup crushed Graham Crackers
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
Create the Masterpiece:
  • In a saucepan, mix together sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and salt.
  • Stir in cranberries and maple syrup.
  • Cook over high heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil.
  • Stir in apples, simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pour apple mixture into pie shell; sprinkle in the walnuts. Sprinkle on the Luscious Topping.
  • Bake 30 minutes @ 375 (F) degrees.
Serving Suggestion:
Cut yourself a big slice and wait for a Pumpkin Pie lover to say something derogatory. Then slowly remove the fork from your mouth, scoop up a sample size piece from your plate and ask them to try a bite, germs and all. It's only fair.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best. Ever. Green Bean Casserole

Even if you hate beans, you should consider growing the Scarlet Runner Beans. 
Those pretty flowers are hugely popular with people & hummingbirds.

T-48 hours to Thanksgiving ~ I'm not the slightest bit worried ~ and I haven't started grocery shopping. But, I've got the list. It was dictated to me. By my in-house chef!

How lucky can a gal be? My pastry chef cousin is staying in our apartment for the winter. This guy cooks like you would not believe and he loves every minute of it! He even keeps his own sourdough starter for the most delightful breads.

The second I announced the big feast was my responsibility he started rattling off this, that and the other thing. Saying if I'd brave the crowds at the grocery, he would do the cookin'!

He's handing everything but the beans. I pat Campbell's Soup on the back for originally developing this recipe. But, you're not gonna catch me using canned soup for a holiday side dish.

This is a much fresher, from scratch version of that best-loved...

Ultimate Green Bean Casserole Recipe
(Feeds an army)
  • Snap 2 pounds of fresh green beans into bite-size pieces.
  • Drop them into a pot of boiling salt water (use a generous amount of sea salt.)
  • Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Drain beans in a colander, then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. (They'll be bright green, crisp-crunchy and oh so delicious.)
Make Your Own Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Remove the stems and slice up 1 lb. of Baby Bella mushrooms.
  • Simmer shrooms in 3-4 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoon fresh garlic.
  • Stir in 3 tablespoons flour.
  • Add 1.5 cups chicken broth + 1.5 cups cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste. (I use extra spicy Mrs. Dash.)
  • Once the sauce is thick and bubbly, stir in those precious beans.
Building Your Masterpiece
  1. Place a can of those yummy French fried onions in the bottom of a casserole.
  2. Pour in the beans and 'shrooms.
  3. Sprinkle another can of yummy French fried onions on top.
  4. Up the fat content a bit more with dollops of butter.
  5. Bake at 375 (F) for 30 minutes.

~ Enjoy!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Oxygen Gardens and Bonsai Tips

 If I live to be 102 (which is highly doubtful, given my reckless ways,) I will never understand why people feel so negatively toward winter. Though, I suppose part of my bliss comes from the good fortune of living far enough south that winters are ~ most often ~ warm, bright, blue bird days.

Even on the chilliest mornings, I step out onto my deck, breath the chill air and feel more alive.

Sure, it's cold. But, the coffee warms my bones. And, those mountains never fail to warm my heart.

I'm not alone..

The quadrapeds love winter, too. Horses, dogs, cats, everybody feels a wee bit frisky, kicking up their heels, at the sight of the freshly fallen snow.

I was soooo delighted to see this little Paper White this morning! I had purchased these bulbs, with big, big plans of squeezing them into the Amaryllis pots. But, lazy is as lazy does. I dumped them on the dining room table, ignored them all last week.

When it came time to finally clean off that dining room table, whaddyaknow, they've all sprouted, growing in the bag. So, I potted them up and introduced them to the herd...

This window is the one and only reason why I purchased this house. One would assume, with a million dollar view, you could do an about face and tour a million dollar home. That is sooooo not the case.

A more accurate assessment would be that there are a million things wrong with my home. Broken this, aging that... though I'm blind to those troubles. Because of this window. An indoor gardener's dream.

I grow lotsa goodies in my sunny window. And, some weird ones, too. Like this Bonsai Schefflera, growing in a lava rock. He's 4 years old next month!

Most homes don't offer a window such as this. And, so, most of my friends lament the fact that they cannot grow everything under the sun. News flash! The sun is not all that necessary.

If you don't have a big sunny window, carefully follow these instructions and pretend that you do:
  1. Buy a grow light.
  2. Plug it in! 
Early morning, out the window ~ My sleepy little town, under the bright Hunter moon.

TIP ~ Moisture: The Key to a Happy Bonsai 
  • Keep your bonsai slightly damp. Mist her in addition to watering. They enjoy the feel of a spring rain. Misting cleans her leaves and helps moisture absorption. 
  • Once every couple of weeks immerse the entire plant, pot and all, in a bowl of water. They love it! 
  • A super slow release (6-40-6) granule fertilizer is ideal. Every other month, dig a tiny hole between the roots and bury one granule.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Belated GBBD

GBBD = Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, a meme held every month on the 15th day. 

Winter arrived. Oops, no, false alarm. :)

I woke up to a raging blizzard. Was all ready to hunker down for this long, dark season. And, then, the next morning I woke to more sunshine & happiness. Which prompted one last walk in the garden.

Kate tracks & Cat tracks.
 Whenever I stroll around the gardens, I'm accompanied by my BFF, Buddy... photographed, below, doing what he does best: meowing, incessantly.

As if to say: Why? Why can't we move to California? I've heard it's toasty warm out there!

Buddy, our senior citizen: He's been bitching at me for 17 years.
Or, maybe he's announcing to the neighborhood that he's found the Incognito Bad Dog. Who lies in wait.... for the unleashed black dog... new to the neighborhood! And, running free!

Mr. B.
Oh, he's not gonna bite him, or anything of the sort. He hangs out in the garden until the little pup comes running down the lane. Then, he joins him for a romp in the snow.

Note the NEW FLOWER BUD in lower left corner.
Meet the toughest perennial of them all. And, here you thought I was gonna cruise through a bloom day post without a single flower offering...

Scabiosa Pincushion Flowers have shrugged off a month of freezing temperatures and 4 snowstorms.* Still gracing us with flowers and buds!

Other parts of the garden are not fairing as well. Purple Coneflowers are not so purple any more.

Helianthus has seen better days....

Perennial succulent: Hen & Chicks.
A wee baby Hen missing her chicks. (They're under the snow.)

Plus the scraggly remnants of the Heavenly Blue Morning Glories ~ bruised, battered, torn and tattered ~ by early winter's gale force winds.

* Flowers in winter? It's all thanks to this massive boulder. The sun bakes it during the day and it gives off plentiful heat on freezing nights.

Pay a visit to Carol at May Dreams Gardens to meet other gardeners participating in this monthly meme. Happy Bloom Day!

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