Saturday, January 29, 2011

First seed order arrives


My order from Pinetree arrived.

Vegetables:
redbor kale
fringed formula kale mix
sweet success cukes
copra onion
red wing onion
white sweet Spanish onion (backordered :-( )
Hungarian yellow wax pepper

Flowers:
esprit mix penstemon
Digitalis excelsior hybrid
crazy daisy chrysanthemum

I'll sow the onions right away in the basement.  They should be large enough to transplant out in April.  I'll also sow a couple of the kales now for spring greens but save most of it for late summer so I'll have kale over winter.

The penstemon and digitalis will provide early forage for the bees as well as give the Spring garden color and vertical interest.  The crazy daisies?  Well, they're just for frilly fun. And lord knows I need a little more of that around here! :-D

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's still winter....


According to the weather channel, January 23rd marked the middle of winter.  There are now fewer winter days ahead of us than behind us!  I know some will be counting down to Spring, but I'm still enjoying the (relative) down time this season brings.  In the hot, dog days to come this summer I'll look back fondly at this cold but pretty season.

But it's not totally dormant here.  Outside there are daffs pushing up even now.  Inside, down in the basement, things are sprouting, perfuming the air with that lovely blend of potting mix and green things.

Another activity - seed shopping.  This year I've found 2 new places to order from. One is for vegetables (Pinetree Garden Seeds) and one for flowers (Specialty Flower Seeds).

I learned of Pinetree from Glenda's blog, while Specialty Flower is a site I stumbled upon during an intense search for new agastache varieties for the bee ring bed.  Meanwhile, Tammy over at Casa Mariposa sent me a dandy link to a good site with pollinator info and plant listings.


So as you can see things haven't stopped, only taken a change of pace.  

And for those with the burning question "What kind of soup did she make this week?"  Well, here you go.

I finally found a bag of dried limas (not the bitty baby limas, but these big sweeties) and made ham and lima bean soup (heavy on the kale).

Ah, doesn't get much better than this!


Meanwhile - out on the deck...

*sniff* *sniff*  Do I smell...soup???

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

*ch-ch-chatterrrrrrr*


Sorry the pic is blurred.  I took it through a window.  No WAY was I going outside to get a better view.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrr.


It started to snow around noon on Thursday and was still snowing around 11:00 pm when I went to bed.  Friday was clear and made the 6" snowfall so pretty.  But cold cold cold.  It never made it out of single digits and it was bitter and windy when I snowblowed the driveway .

Then temps went south and you can see by this morning's thermometer, it's kinda brisk out there at 7:30.  *woof*

After taking care of the driveway yesterday, I really needed a hot lunch.  Chips 'n' chili.  Warmed body and soul.





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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bay window bed

Bay window bed

A cozy fire
We're having more of that nasty weather; the glazing spit mixed with gritty snow.  The temps are set to plummet this weekend with a chance of 1-3 inches of accumulation.  (Posted later: it's been snowing since noon and it's piling up!)  I must say this kind of weather really makes me appreciate a comfy chair. And I've lit a cozy fire.  

Something else to appreciate: Thanks to the glut of geraniums I rescued last July and some recent additions of pretty primrose, the front bay window shelf is looking very much like an indoor flowerbed right now.   All that deep green foliage and colorful blooms are a respite for the eyes and  certainly help chase away winter blues!

Meanwhile, down in the basement, vegetable greens are sprouting under lights (recently rewired lights).  There's signs of spring popping up everywhere.  Well ... at least inside!    ;-D

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Robins robins robins

Robins feasting on dried crabapples
When I came home from an errand I was pleasantly surprised to see that this crabapple tree was chattering with robins and a few starlings.  As many times I've seen this tree filled with hungry birds (since October), there are still tons of dried fruit to be had.  

Right now we're getting a freezing spitty gritty rain.  Not good for the roads.  The birds, however, don't seem to mind chomping down on glazed fruit.
 
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Whiteout

The weather was quiet when I took Mom to her doctor's appointment yesterday morning - cold and grey.  Later, at my house, I fixed lunch for us and the weather was still quiet.

But somewhere between the ham and bean soup and the tea and cookies, the skies opened up.  The storm, predicted for later afternoon, just barged right in ahead of schedule. 


And good grief did it snow.  Radar showed the whole state was engulfed so I hustled Mom into the car and set off to her place just 5 miles away.

It was NOT a pleasant drive.  Already the streets were covered and incredibly slippery.  Cars were driving too fast for the conditions and in the nearly 20 minutes it took to get there, we saw a couple of spin outs off the road.  I'm a good driver, but I did not enjoy this trip - not one bit.

But I got Mom home safe and sound (although both of us were a bit agitated).  

We got about 4-5 inches by the time I went to bed last night.  This morning shows we got another 2-3 on top of that.  I had to sweep a path out to the feeder to fill it this morning.  The birds were sure happy to see me!

I'll let them feed for a while before disrupting their breakfast.  The snow is getting deeper by the minute and my little snow blower can't handle much past 7 inches (and that has to be dry snow to boot!).  So I can't let it go too long.

Weather forecasts show snow for the next 7 days.  Good thing we bought groceries while we were out yesterday.  Food in the fridge, soup on the stove, gosh I don't miss going to work!  :-D 
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Of course, there's work to do right here!  After I finished my first (and only *gasp*) cup of coffee, I bundled up and got to work clearing my way out.

Here' s the driveway all cleared.


So is the turnaround (which, honestly has more square footage than my entire last house!).


I didn't neglect the deck.  It had 8" of snow on it.  Honestly, it's a breeze to keep it clear this winter what with having sanded it down last summer and sealing it!


Well, I skipped breakfast, so opted for an early lunch.  

For those who wonder about today's soup creation - voila!  Split pea & ham accompanied by a ham & kale sandwich.  (Have I mentioned before how I'm having my first fling with kale?  It's really turning into a serious relationship! :-D )

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Alll wound up

It flurried for several hours last night, adding to the snowpack.

Everything looks so snug under the soft white blanket.


Once I get used to winter (takes a few weeks), I really enjoy the cold and the snow.   On snowy days I go out often to sweep a path to the bird feeders and enjoy being outside.  

And sometimes, when I sweep, I veer off the straight and narrow.


If I weren't expecting company today, I'd have doodled all the way out to the street.



Folks used say that, after a very very busy career, I would be really bored when I retired.

LOL  I'll let you know if that ever happens..... ;-D

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Friday, January 7, 2011

We now return...

...to our regularly scheduled season.

After that New Year's week of warm resulting in (eek!) naked gardens, it started snowing yesterday afternoon and went through the evening.



This morning it was back to being a winter wonderland!  Waaaay nicer to look at than dormant grass, leaf litter and spent stalks.  It's supposed to flurry on and off for the next week or so with daytime temps in the 20s.  That'll keep the snow cover on the perennials.  


I don't even mind that I'll have to sweep the deck and shovel or blow the driveway.  There's always something hot in the kitchen waiting for me when I get in.  While others bake when it's cold outside, I'm driven to make soup.  Lots of soup.  All kinds.

Over the holidays I discovered that kale is NOT nasty, but really good (and jam packed with nutrients) so I've been finding ways to use it.  I saw a recipe for white beans and kale stew on another blog (sorry, I was blog hopping and don't know whose site it was) and it sounded delicious.  Lucky me, I didn't have to start from scratch.  I had previously frozen some of my savory ham & bean soup, so when I heated it up I threw in a couple handfuls of chopped fresh kale, added a splash of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of hot pepper flakes and let it cook down a bit.  Voila!  Serve with chunks of home made multi-grain Irish soda bread and I'm back to winter cozy...  As Rachel Ray would say - YUMMO!

(Click this link to peek at my recent butternut squash soup over on the vegetable page.)
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Simply soup

I felt bad that the pic of this velvety squash soup languished over on the vegetable page instead of here, with all the action. 

I looked at a lot of online recipes for the kind of soup I wanted, but they all seemed to have far too many ingredients for my simple taste buds.  So I got creative and ended up with the easiest soup I've ever made.

I simmered the squash with just a hint of olive oil and garlic, then pureed it into a smooth pulp.  I froze the pulp in 1C bags.  To make a bowl of soup, I merely defrost the pulp, put it into a saucepan, then dribble in chicken stock while stirring.  When the soup is to the consistency I want, it's done.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   It is rich and smooooooth.   I'm sure you could add most any liquid instead of chicken stock (like veg stock, milk/cream, etc.) and end up with equally delightful variations.  Yum.
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 arrives - warm and snowless


Thursday and Friday (New Year's eve day) was warm, well into the 50s and nights didn't drop below 40.  New Year's day (Saturday) was nearly as warm and it rained, giving us a nice .6" (to this gardener that's a dandy way to start a year).  Then the front moved on.

Sufficed to say, the there isn't a smidgen of snow to be found now.  LOL  Today (Sunday) the temps have returned to normal and will hover in the 20s-30s range (daytime) and 20s (nighttime) the whole week.  But I miss the nice clean snow and there's not any in the forecast until next weekend.

Snowpack makes everything look so nice and clean during the day.  It also brightens the night, making it easy to spot deer and other nocturnal critters as they wander through the yard.  Another bonus is that it keeps golfers at bay.  I've enjoyed having the back gardens to myself the whole of December.  But now that the fairways are clear golfers will be out there until the next snowfall.  (Snow is the ONLY thing that keeps them from playing - I've seen them play in teen temps, gale winds, thunderstorms and searing, record-breaking heat!) 

Meanwhile, I've been playing myself - down in the basement grow lab.  You'll see more and more posts on that page over the next months. It keeps me out of trouble...sorta. ;-D

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