Favorite Things

I noticed I have some favorite things that I do every year at Christmas. Quite a few years ago my BF gave me some iTunes money. I actually do not like iTunes. But I bought two movies with that money–Elf and The Santa Clause. That has come in very handy, because I like watching both of those movies every year. I also like The Holiday, especially the part with Jack Black and Kate Winslet. Oh, and those two little girls that are Jude Law’s kids are darling. Oh heck. I like the whole movie. So this year instead of renting it again, I just paid the $8 to own it. So now I can watch my three favorite movies every year.

My favorite Christmas book is Kneeling in Bethlehem, by Ann Weems. It is poetry, but not rhyming poetry. It is just so beautiful. I love reading one or two poems from it each morning between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My favorite Christmas song is the Hallelujah Chorus. In my opinion, this is the best quilt I have ever made. And I almost forgot, but I got it out of its cubby in the closet and hung it up in my house. I am so happy that I did that.

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Of course, there is the inevitable dog crate there with the pile of Very Important Magazines… And don’t you just love Santa with his two little dachshunds in attendance. (Thank you Shelley!)

Some years I just can’t be bothered getting all the Christmas stuff out. I started out this year with my wreath from Trader Joe’s (for that lovely piney scent) and two poinsettias from Home Depot because they were so darn cheap. I thought that might be enough for Christmas this year. But then I felt a little pressured to decorate a little more because other friends were doing it. I have a LOT of Christmas stuff.

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I started out just bringing in the little Christmas tree, and just one box of ornaments. That was just perfect.

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The santas on the wall behind the tree are cross-stitched, and were given to me by my dad’s wife.

Here are two of my oldest ornaments. The little skating girl was mine (I put my name on her butt so my sister couldn’t claim her ๐Ÿ™‚ ) And the ornament above her we had when I was a little girl. I guess that makes them antiques!

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In the box with the tree were some of my favorite Santas. And don’t you just love that lantern shaped thing. It has a blower in it so that the sparkly stuff is always circulating!

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I also bought some of these cinnamon scented pine cones because they smelled so wonderful when I walked into the grocery store. Then my sister gave me another bag of them so I have them in three different rooms in my house!

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And this is the one thing that I for sure put out every year. My mom “made” this set when we were just little kids. I’m sure she saw it in one of those women’s magazines. Why else would she decorate Mary and Baby Jesus with velveteen and Joseph with silk? and the blue and white spun glass was from way back when too!

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This year I decided to do some baking for Christmas presents. Of course, I have to try them to make sure they taste okay. I might be returning to the sugar-free life in January!

In case I don’t write again, I hope all of you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!!

 

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A Little More Fall Color

The other day I was taking the little girls out to the dog room when I noticed some of the beautiful color at the back of the garden. So I ran back inside to get my camera.

This is my Red Emperor Japanese maple. I swear, it has never turned this color in the fall before. I always thought it was kind of a dud. I was so happy to see this color on it. And the very next day, it was completely bare!

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Again, this little maple has not done much as far as color change in the fall. Its color this year was just glowing.

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My silly dogwood tree. It never blooms in the spring. But fortunately, it always turns beautiful colors in the fall.

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And just turning and looking toward the front of the garden. The flowering cherry and apple tree are there in the background, and that is the Camperdown elm tree in front of them.

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We have been having quite a bit of rain (YAY!!) It has stopped all of the fires that were burning in California, and has provided some cleaning for the dusty pine trees on my road ๐Ÿ™‚

Fall in the Garden

We’ve finally gotten cool enough weather that some of the trees are starting to change color. Today I went outside and was surprised at how many of them had started to change.

Here is the last rose of the season. Its just huge and spectacular. I brought it inside so I could enjoy it for a bit.

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And here is one of my miniature trees that has done really well.

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And my oldest laceleaf Japanese maple.

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Of course, some of the flowers enjoy the cooler temperatures, and so they are still blooming a bit.

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These zinnias especially seem to like the cooler weather. I can hardly wait to see how my zinnia seeds do next year!

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And just before sunset, the colors looked so pretty, I tried to get a couple of views of the garden.

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I hope everyone has a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

 

A Chicken and Garden Report

I am so happy. My plan is working. This year, I did not keep the lights on in the evening (so the chickens would keep laying eggs.) Of course, this means I only get 5-7 eggs a day from 22 chickens. BUT, I am happy because all of my chickens are starting to grow their feathers back. Here are some of them:

The white cochins:

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Both of the Black Copper Marans are in full feather:

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And they have finally started laying their dark brown eggs again:

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The Dominique:

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And one of the New Hampshire Reds:

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Both of the Speckled Sussex are coming back into full feather. They were really bald in the last chicken update I did.

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And the self-appointed queen of the yard. I don’t think she’s ever lost too many of her feathers. I’m not so sure she’s the queen. She might just be smart enough to stay away from the other chickens.

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Did I tell you that my apple tree grew ONE apple! I watched it for a long time, sure that the deer or the bear or birds might get it. But one day, it looked ripe enough and I ate it! Yumm!

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A while back, I bought a book on Monet’s garden. It was so interesting to read. And he just was determined to put flowers everywhere. So the next time Kevin came over, I kidded around and said I was going to add some planter beds here. He actually likes building these beds, so he did this for me. I’m very excited. I bought a bunch of spring bulbs from John Scheepers again, plus those specialty seeds that I bought, so I will be able to plant some of them here.

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Of course, all of the dogs have to explore anything new in the garden.

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Kevin came up with a great idea to add some beds to the front of the shade garden. We are going to save that project for next spring.

A Garden Comment and Chicken Report

This is one of the best garden bargains I have ever gotten. I paid $4 for a little rose bush that was not grafted, and this is it just two years later. It is always healthy, and it never stops blooming.

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So today was the day to “steam clean” the chicken coop. That is what I called it, because I wished that was what I could do. First I cleaned all the litter off the floor–a combo of shavings, chicken poop, and food. And it was really dusty. And then I had to bring in the big guns–a ladder and a hose. I wanted to clean off all the chicken shit from their roosts. And believe me, it was a LOT. Because I am a nice person, and I know that chickens like to roost on a shelf rather than a post, most of them roosted on 12 inch and 8 inch boards. Which means they crapped all night long on their roosts. Anyway, that’s enough poop talk. It actually wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be. But I was worn out when it was done. Oh, you can see in this picture that I started feeding them wet food. I just soak their chicken food for a few minutes. There is way less waste that way, and they really seem to enjoy it.

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This is Baby’s sister. (did I tell you all that Baby died last spring?) Anyway, she was looking pretty poorly all summer, and then she finally grew a new set of feathers. But she’s already looking a bit threadbare. I don’t know what’s wrong with her, if anything.

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And here she is all fluffed out in her nest box.

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This is Baby’s other sister. She has always maintained her feathers. I don’t think she’s the ruler of the roost. She just seems to stay away from the rest of the chickens.

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She seems to pal around with the professor, and they stay mostly in the second yard. Poor Professor. He hasn’t had a tail for a long time. But if you look closely, you can see a few feather buds back there. I am hopeful.

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This chicken has finished moulting and she is in full feather. I love seeing them like this.

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Here is the Dominic rooster and hen. She has just about finished moulting, and he is just starting to moult. He only has one tail feather right now.

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So here is a sad little chicken (but she doesn’t know it–she’s very perky and inquisitive.) She is moulting, but the whole lack of a tail is so ridiculous. Many of my chickens had that going on. I am hoping that by leaving the lights off this winter, they will not peck each other’s feathers out so much.

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Here is a chicken in full moult. One time I had a banty chicken, and she would moult in November, when it was pretty cold, and she lost every single feather all at once. I felt like I should knit her a sweater!

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And here you can see all the feathers just starting to grow back in on another chicken.

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So there you go. That’s what’s a happening with the chickens. I am still enjoying them a lot. I will enjoy them even more if they keep their feathers this year. And, I have to say, it is a relief to have the coop cleaned out before winter comes.

Its Liriope Time!

I love these liriope plants. I love them so much that I have bought five of them, one at a time, over the years. They all started out in the shade garden, but it was too shady for them, and so one by one, they have all been transplanted to another area of the garden that seems just perfect for them. The one that got eaten by the mole even got transplanted, and is doing very well!

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This is my oldest liriope. I think it may need to be divided. I am always a little afraid of dividing plants.

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Close-up of their funny little blooms:

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Elsewhere in the garden, the zinnias are really doing well. With Lori’s recommendation, I have ordered zinnia seeds from Select Seeds, and am looking forward to having specific zinnia colors in my garden next year. I also ordered some special nasturtiums, and have a plan for those next year too!

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I should mention that we have had unusually cool weather since mid-August, and it looks like it is going to continue for the next week or so. Lovely! Anyway, the salvia loves the cooler weather, and has made a big comeback now.

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I like these striped petunias. They are in a pot in front of the salvia.

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Many of my roses have been blooming. I couldn’t get a good picture of most of them, but here is one. The blooms now are smaller than the spring blooms, but still pretty and still smell good ๐Ÿ™‚

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The hydrangea:

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And this plant, which I don’t know the name of. It has a faint minty smell. The bees love it so much. In August I give it a haircut, and then a whole new crop of the little blue blossoms starts up again.

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I am very proud that I have kept all of my little trees alive this year. I go out every morning or evening and give them a sprinkle, as well as giving the Japanese maples a ย sprinkle.

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I planted this baby’s breath plant, but it is a short plant and is in the wrong place, so when i was doing a little weeding, I pulled out a stem of it as well. So I cut one rose to bring inside to enjoy them together. (I should see if I can get that WARNING sign off my window. Its funny how you don’t notice stuff like that until you see a picture.)

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I have to admit that I have done very little weeding or work in the garden this summer besides walking through the garden and watering this and that. I have ordered a bunch of daffodils and tulips again from John Scheepers, and so there will be some work done this fall. In addition, there might be some major transplanting going on.

A Little Garden Report

There’s not a lot going on in the garden right now. But a few improvements have been made, so thought I’d share them.

This is what I see when I drive up. (It looks better in person.) Those are vanilla marigolds, with some petunias between, and sweet alyssum behind. I have enjoyed this area of the garden a lot. I am looking forward to filling it with tulips again for the spring.

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Remember the patchwork pathway? Where I tried to plant plants in the six spots. Yes, that never worked. I think if I had wanted it to work, I should have pre-dug out about a foot of dirt and rocks and replaced it with good soil. So a few weeks ago I told Kevin that I wanted to get rid of the plants. We looked around our pile of unused stuff, and these light colored blocks almost fit perfectly. Except for 1/2 inch that he had to saw off of each of them… Anyway, I am very glad that I don’t have to be sad looking at the plants that don’t want to grow there.

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Costco had these tall solar lights (like 5 or 6 feet tall) on sale. So I got four of them. Two are by the front fence (in the above photo) and a few days ago we put these among the Japanese maples.

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This bed has gone a little wild. I planted some zinnias in there quite a while ago and they just started blooming now. Bringing a bit of cheer to the garden.

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This is a dwarf abutilon that came back from last year, and is blooming like crazy. I like it better than the huge one that takes up a whole garden bed and is scarcely blooming.

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And the weed/morning glories have come back after a few years off! This picture is not re-touched. They really are that brilliant in the morning. Only trouble is, I usually forget to go out and look at them in the morning ๐Ÿ™‚

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Okay, unrelated to the garden. I finally started back to work on my rug hooking (this is an upside down view of a giant redwood tree.)

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I glanced over to see all three girls sharing one bed. There are literally three doggie beds in this room, but I guess they all wanted to be in the bed closest to me.

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And that’s about it for this week. The weather has cooled down a bit and we are having a whole week of cooler weather. So wonderful!!