Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis, Kalanchoe Tips

Did you survive the holidays? We did. Barely

We roasted a goose for Christmas. Oh my gods that was awful. Would dearly love to finger someone else for this failed Christmas dinner but it was my idea. 

Scroll to the bottom of this post for tips on holiday cactus.

Thought pulling out all the stops might inspire a little Christmas cheer. 

The phrase, Bah Humbug, is defined as curmudgeonly displeasure and that’s sort of where I was at, all throughout December. I lost someone very close to me, a few days before Thanksgiving. Been struggling with that, it’s made me very sad. 

Tips to get this beauty to re-bloom are at the bottom of this post.

Came up with the dumb idea of roast goose while watching a favorite holiday movie, A Christmas Carol, (1951 is a great adaptation.) 

When the nasty ass Scrooge wakes up on a bright Christmas morning deciding to make amends for a lifetime of torturing his only employee, by gifting the poor man a goose. 

Scrooge could have demonstrated he was a changed man by doing his own Christmas shopping, because we all know that’s a drudgery, especially during the holidays. Instead, he tossed a tuppence to a street urchin, forcing him to do the heavy lifting.

Handling that task, himself, would have been a great way to prove he's a changed man. That he's just like the rest of us.

While watching the movie I thought to myself...

Yeah. I’m roasting a goose. Because it’s different and special and even penny pincher Scrooge thinks it’s worth the extra money. Not giving any thought to how supermarkets filled with turkeys weren’t an option back then. 

It’s really hard to find a goose. That should have been the first grand indicator this is a bad idea. 

But that didn’t stop me. And neither did the price tag. Because I'm on a mission! To make this a Merry Christmas!

Kalanchoe tips at the bottom of this post.

Found the goose at Whole Foods Paycheck, paying $15 per pound for that god-awful goose vs. $2 a pound for delicious, delectable turkey. No one at the dinner table ate it. No one. Not even the not at all picky eater, 5-year-old Hattie. And I've caught that kid eating dog treats!

But now I know! That Scrooge wasn't being the slightest bit kind by gifting his employee a goose.

AND. Why everybody says the holiday feast is all about the side dishes. Maybe they fell for the Merry Olde England goose idea, as well. 

The view from my window. The view from up here.

On a happier note, the Amaryllis bulbs were blooming. Here's a tip if you happen to be a lover of this fabulous, indoor, easy-to-grow, bulb. 

Slice your Amaryllis bulb and it will re-bloom.

Amaryllis Tip:
Don't discard the bulb after the flowers are done blooming.
Cut it back to just the bulb. 
Slice the bulb as you would 4 quarters of a pie. 
Set in a sunny window - they will re-grow and re-bloom, a second time.

Potato/Banana water encourages Christmas Cactus to re-bloom.

Christmas Cactus Tip:
Dice up a potato, add a banana peel, 1/2 cup white vinegar, small spoon yeast, 3 cups water. Let this steep for a few days. Water your cactus with this mixture - soon she will be covered with a second set of happy flowers. Bigger and better than the first round of blooms.

Beer. :) Yep. Watered down Beer.

Kalanchoe Tips:
Don't compost these beauties when they're done blooming! They're perennial houseplants. The dark days of winter inspires them to set new buds and re-bloom. And so does beer. Water every 7-10 days. Sporadically with watered-down beer. Once every couple of months. It greens up the plant, kills off the bugs, improves the soil, gifting you with tons of bright indoor flowers.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Cheesy Apple Bread


During a break in the rain, I harvested the last of the apples from the garden.

🎵 Oh the weather outside is frightful far too warm for my tastes. 🎵 Wish it would snow. 

But we need the moisture - so I shouldn't complain. (I think that's what everyone says when we're trying to justify the rain.) 

So I busied myself baking this delish quick bread.

Picture doesn't do it justice. But if you can beyond that, you might love it as much as I do!

Cheesy Apple Bread

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) melted butter
  • 1.5 cups shredded apples
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 + 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Bake at 350 (F) for about 30-35 minutes.

I've also made this quick bread with crabby apples. (Add an extra 1/4 c sugar) It's more work, since you need to remove all the seeds. But. Hey. If it's raining. Nothing better to do! :)

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Val di Funes

The Dolomites were calling.

* The Dolomites is a stunning mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, near Austria. It became a UNESCO Heritage site - around the time I was living in Italy. But I didn't have a car, so this is the first time I've been able to see them, up close and personal.

The Haflingers were also calling. 

A beautiful horse breed, popular in Austria and Northern Italy. Fell in love with them, a long time ago, when I lived in Bressanone, Italy

Even though I've been here before... This birthday vacation was sort of a dream come true.

The church of San Giovanni [1744] was our original horseback riding destination - you can't ride horses to this field - but we didn't know that! 

The countryside looked so inviting! So, we Googled our way into a reservation at Herr Gruberhof's stables in the high hopes we could get close.

* You can get very close to this historic church on foot. If and only if, the automated turnstile, on private property, is working. On our visit it was working beautifully for the property owners. Not so much for us. Gobbling Euros yet refusing entry. So... Janet created a diversion and I climbed a fence. To take this photo. ↑ 

Ages ago. Literally. Ages. I lived in Italy for a little while. 

When I was there I was educated on how Northern Italy isn't really Italy, at all. Hence the confusion when trying to drive to the town of Bressanone while everyone is calling it Brixen. [This area of South Tyrol was basically Austria for 14 centuries - the villages often have two names - and then a bunch of dumb Germans decided to start the world wars.]

I have always had a love affair with Austria -- and not just the mountains! 

Austrian Gardeners do up window boxes like nobody's business! 

And I'm gonna try this next summer! 

* You need Trailing Geraniums. Or Ivy Geraniums. Or Alpine Ivy Geraniums. Nothing is ever easy when shopping in the USA. FYI, it's all the same flowering plant. The 'common' Geraniums we typically purchase in America don't work as well in flower boxes because they don't 'dangle.' 

** And since they're annuals, lasting only one season, might be best to purchase from the least expensive nursery provider.

From the stunning scenery of the Dolomiti we drove to more civilized surroundings. 

Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg.

If you look, really close, you can see two horse statues near the water.
This palace is where Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp family 'lived' in the famous movie.

It's a really big deal to do the Sound of Music tour while in Salzburg. 

But why not just stay there? 

I mean.. Do we really need to drive 2 hours and then hike for an hour and a half up to a field - for you to sing The Hills Are Alive? 

Vacations often include a wee bit of negotiation. Frankly I'm surprised I won this debate 😇 since my travel buddy has watched the Sound of Music dozens of times. I saw it once, decades ago, but mostly I was just hoping that we could alter our plans, avoid the hike. And. And! Stay in a Palace!

You need Hollywood-size budgets to stay in the rooms in the actual Palace. ↑ 

But you can stay on the grounds - right next door - in the Meierhoff. It's a beautiful hotel.

You can stroll the gardens and relax in this fabulous, famous, library. ↑ 

Created by Max Reinhardt. If you don't know the story of the Max, it's worth a read.

Breakfast is served in this marvelous ballroom. 

We both agreed that even though we were far from Downton Abbey, it kind of felt the same. The Leopoldskron was as nice, probably better - you're not on a tour. You're allowed to stroll the palace on your own.

* Downton was our 2020 Is Gonna Be Our Year! vacation. Cancelled due to covid.

We trekked to quite a few other wonderful places. Including Gardone Riviera on the western shore of Lake Garda. Visited Bressanone, aka Brixen, my 'home' a decade ago. My apartment is standing! When I arrived, in 2011, I was expected to hand the landlady a fistful of Euros, she only accepted cash. It's now an Airbnb. Time marches on. 😞

Thanks for coming along. I hope these pics have inspired you to travel someplace wonderful, some time, very soon.

Travel Tip For Europe: People say Europe - and Italy, in particular - is too crowded. 

But that's not really the case

It's crowded where the trains stop. And you won't be treated very nicely in those locations because the locals are so damn tired of Americans it's not even funny. 

Consider renting a car. Cheaper than trains - considerably more flexible - your car will take you to the most remarkable destinations. 

* It is not at all difficult to drive in Europe. Unless, of course, you insist on driving in Rome.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Thrivers and Survivors


Zinnia - best planted by seed - lasts for one season.

↑Tonight she dies.↑ Annuals, such as this pretty little Zinnia, bloom prolifically all summer long. But they don't last forever. The weather lady is predicting a hard freeze tonight.

Bearded Iris live forever - without any help from you.

↑This gal↑ outlived my Grandmother, my Mother, and I'm pretty sure she'll still be dazzling passers by, with her beauty, long after I'm gone. 

* You can often find Bearded Iris brightly blooming on abandoned homesteads. 

This season's Greatest Hits. Many are golden oldies. The orange flowers have been blooming here for 20 years.
That Peony up top? I think she's been around for 50 years. Since my Mother was a young lass.

Just returned from my 70th High School Class Reunion. 

What's that you say? How could that be? How could I possibly be that old? Well. I'm like a Bearded Iris. I plan to live forever. 

Day Lilies also last forever. 
Plant them in a sunny spot where they can help you out. They weed themselves!

Okay… fine… it hasn’t been seven decades. Not nearly that many years. But it felt like 70

I didn’t recognize a single person – which was a huge failure on my part. Because there were about 150 faces to choose from. 

The other half of my graduating class did not attend. Perhaps they were trying to avoid the pressure. 

It’s uncomfortable when people are screaming your name, hugging you, while you’re desperately trying to get a glimpse at their name tags. All claiming they missed you and me responding by saying: I missed you, too!!!

Because saying: Don’t touch me or who the hell are you? Well. That’s kinda rude. 

Rocky Mountain Penstemon lives forever through plentiful re-seeding.
Prefers the hottest, driest place you can find.

Struggling with recognizing faces we haven't seen since we were 17 is not the real reason why the other 50% of my classmates couldn’t make it to the reunion. 

You can’t get there from here. The town has an airport, but planes don’t fly into it anymore. 

My trip was a comedy of errors. You can fly but I could reach Paris quicker than Huron, South Dakota. Lotsa layovers. The last plane gets you sorta close. Then you rent a car. And drive another 200 miles.

FORGET THAT!!! I'm gonna drive the whole way! But I can't. Because I have an old car. Okay... fine! I've needed a new car forever, I'll buy a car!

DONE & DONE! Bought the car, hit the road, took me two days.

So I guess you could say... I shelled out $50,000 to avoid paying $600 bucks for a plane ticket. That could get me there twice as fast.

Mountain Cornflower (centaurea montana)
Comes back every year. Generally in all the spots you don't want her to be.

I’m from one of those little prairie towns that just couldn’t get their act together. And by that, I mean, they were scared. Progress and income, jobs and careers - good things - relevant to the survival of such towns. But they didn't feel safe enough to say yes to new businesses that could give their high school graduates a reason to stay. 

And we all know how that ends. The town keeps spiraling downward until it is damn near impossible to find a decent cup of coffee. Much less a tasty croissant. 😉

I had a wonderful time. I really did! I mean once I started figuring out who those people were? It was awesome.

And I also had a wonderful summer. The months went by in a blink. As did the years.

Monday, August 28, 2023

What to do when it’s 92.

Big bumbles sleep in my Hollyhocks.

It was briefly hot, not terribly hot, and for that I've been grateful. A summer I would describe as:

Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. 

Actually, Kurt Vonnegut is the one who came up with that wonderful quote. So I'll give my favorite author some credit at the bottom of this post.

Cosmos + Allium.

In comparison to previous years, the weather has been delightful. 

It’s cooler this year so we’re trying to forget. 

The West has been bruised and battered. With a seven-year drought, heartbreaking wildfires, endless heatwave. I live across the street from a bone dry meadow and it's just a matter of time before some dummy shoots off fireworks and sets it ablaze.

Severe watering restrictions prevented me from sprinkling my little flowers last summer. Rains have vastly improved that situation.

Moppy-headed Bee Balm.

All that misery is behind us. At least, for now.

Can't remember.

This morning, I took a walk in the gardens. 

Appreciating those tough cookies, aka waterwise and native flowers, who happily survived. 


Just strolling about, bending down, collecting seeds from spent flowers, tossing them into other areas.

Thanking my lucky stars for the monsoon rains. 

Maltese Cross.

Monsoons are kind of a new thing for us - up here in Utah. Very common in New Mexico. I’m no meteorologist; I’m just observant. It feels like the summer weather patterns from New Mexico are moving farther north. 

Monsoons are intense, short, rainstorms - hits like a wall of water. Likes to show up right about the time you're far from home, without an umbrella. 

After the deluge, you’re gifted with a pretty rainbow and a garden of tall perennials collapsed in the mud. 

Hollyhocks from Hazel's Garden.

Most folks, like me, who choose to live in high elevations do so because we can’t take the heat. The few, the proud, who fully embrace winter and all the fun it has to offer. 

So even though it’s been cooler this summer, I still find myself hiding out in the air conditioning, mid-afternoon, checking up on the gardeners of TikTok. 

I suppose it sounds kind of odd that I prefer this social channel vs. Facebook. But I just love those TikTok gardeners. 

Mallow ~ Miniature Hollyhocks.

Back during the halcyon days of blogging, we were thrilled with 1,000 followers. 

These gals have 2 million viewers taking a virtual stroll through their backyards. And they are so much fun.


TikTokers inspired to me to plant more seeds, this summer. 

Every garden has some odd quirk. It’s hard for root-bound, potted, perennials to take off in my poor soil. And even though it’s practically impossible for seeds to survive – thanks to this little jerk, below, who ate half the seeds and invited all her friends to the party...

It’s really fun when my annuals pop up and say howdy. 


Busy days. 

Been riding quite a bit. We're enjoying a super bloom of wildflowers in the High Uintas. I try to photograph whatever the horse doesn't eat. ↓

Hurricane Hattie has been sharing her recipes for the bestest mud pies. ↓

As I look at this photo, I can't help but giggle that I let her make mud pies in that pretty dress. Didn't even think about it. Her mom and I don't see eye to eye. On mud. :)

Charlie is learning to appreciate the fragrance of Wild Asters.  ↓

* That yellow flower is Helianthus. A perennial sunflower -- and the very best choice for late summer color in mountain gardens. 

Only plant her if you're willing to allow her to multiply and please don't call me in a few years when you have 100 of them instead of 10. 😇  Because this is me. Saying I told you so. 

Charlie Waffles + Helianthus + Wild Asters

The big talk on TikTok was what to plant for late season flowering. None of the flowers in this post were recommended -- maybe they're just too boring. But I love 'em. I've reached a point in my 'gardening career' when easy = better. 

These flowers aren't exotic but during the summer when the city wouldn't allow us to water them, they did just fine. You can prevent a lot of heartache when you know what grows.

They were up to their eyeballs in straw bedding - which I would never recommend. Straw retains moisture for long periods of time - very helpful in difficult circumstances. 

** Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” < That's a banned book. The hashtag on Twitter (X) - Republicans Are Destroying America - can connect you to free reading of banned books. If you're not on Twitter (X) you can read banned books by clicking here.  

Sunday, July 09, 2023

The Roses are Blooming


I only have three varieties of Roses. Technically, I should only have two. This beauty is not what I ordered. But I'm not complaining!

I've always been a little afraid of Roses. Assumed they were high maintenance. And delicate. Didn't believe they could survive in this harsh climate. Especially with me in charge.

Mom gifted me this yellow one - years ago - when I purchased this house. Wild Yellow Roses blanketed my parent's property when I was growing up. Oh, I just loved them... She promised me: You can't kill 'em, no matter how hard you try. :)

I was skeptical but she was right about that.

Wild Yellow Roses + Bonus Dog

Feeling rather bold after my wild Roses flourished, I tried my luck with another low maintenance variety. The John Cabots

This is a story of how I fell head over heels in love with John Cabot Roses.

They are a surprisingly, (shockingly?) tough variety. 

How tough? This tough:
I've owned this house for a long time but I didn't live in it for 5 years. During those years, I had hired a landscaping guy who did a fabulously incompetent job of taking care of the property. 

He disconnected the irrigation system so he didn't have to mow the lawn very often. Not caring that, in doing so, he would kill every flowering thing in my gardens.

* There's a special spot in hell for guys like that. At least, I hope so.

John Cabots are huge. This boulder is the size of a Jeep Wrangler.

Anyhoo... when I moved back to the house, 5 years later, I was shocked at how bad everything looked.

But there they were! My John Cabots survived. Living in a high plains desert, during drought, record breaking heat, very little water, it hardly ever rains here. But there they were! Flowering up a storm.

I own a half dozen of these hot pink beauties. I'd probably buy more - if I could find a place to put them.

It is ~ finally ~ full on summertime up here in the mountains.

The Bottle Rockets are going nuts. I call them that because they typically bloom right around the 4th of July. [Kniphofia Red Hot Pokers.]

The Rocky Mountain Penstemon has decided that growing inside the garden beds is for suckers, she shall bloom wherever she pleases. Choosing to take over the garden bench. And since she's so pretty, nobody wants to sit on her, therefore we don't get to sit in the garden.

The wild meadows in Payson Canyon.
* This is not me ~ I'm taking the picture.

Our plentiful snows last winter have brought the wildflower meadows back to life. We're experiencing a super bloom, everywhere we ride.

Last year, this time, we were suffering through our 7th year of horrendous drought. Smoke-filled air from the plentiful wildfires made it difficult to breathe. Ash accumulated on our cars, from wildfires burning too close for comfort. Me. Offering shelter to friends forced to evacuate.

And, of course, the media couldn't stop with the doom and gloom - deeming this cataclysmic. Predicting that we will not survive.

But we did. 

My darling granddaughter and her BFF on a forced nature hike.
They're standing out there, complaining that they don't have their iPads.

So far, this has been an absolutely delightful summer. The gardens, the meadows, the people, the wildflowers. Everything coming back to life. And I hope it stays this way. For a good long time.