Working in the Garden

That’s right. ME working in the garden! MLG is taking a week off. Bringing home that batch of little plants from Annie’s last week forced me to get out in the garden and do some major restructuring of garden beds. I cleared out the last of the fairy impatien forests, and removed lots of weeds and even some ground cover. Dragged in more bags of potting soil and mulch, and filled in a couple of beds.

Here is the little bed by the front fence that was created as a side effect of the patchwork path. I am trying to be wise and space my plants out a little bit better. Oh, and I purposely left that pile of bricks and compost in the background to show you. After wrenching my back and my right arm, I finally wised up and paid Lowe’s to deliver the (hopefully) last of the bricks and sand we will need for a while. I was paying $4.50 for each 50 pound bag of sand, and discovered that I could get 1000 pounds for $32, which is less than $1.50 per 50 pounds.

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And here’s the other little bed by the front fence. I planted the herbs that I already had in pots (apple mint, rosemary, thyme, and chocolate mint) and I added a pineapple sage. They all smell so yummy.

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The patchwork path is doing very well–the ground covers have just about filled in their patches. (the oak leaves never stop. MLG says the trees are stressed by this drought.)

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The oldest lace leaf Japanese Maple is doing really well this year. It is still in its pot, and I plan to leave it there as long as it is happy enough. Bessie loves drinking out of that little bird bath, and Noah likes to drink out of the pot hidden in the ivy below.

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Hmmm. Don’t know why this picture is blurry. Anyway, this is a group pot that I made up a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t work out for where I originally planned to put it, so I moved it here, next to the shade garden.

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Here’s the shade garden, minus all the fairy impatiens and most of the ground cover.

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I wanted a tall plant for that pot in the middle of the shade bed, and I found this begonia. It is doing very well. I don’t always have the best luck with begonias. BTW, the reason there is a pot in the middle of this bed is because a huge pine tree was cut down and the stump is right there in the middle!

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And that’s it for this week in the garden. Have a great weekend. I plan to spend some time in the studio, and the garden, and the gym!

Garden Inspiration

Warning! Picture heavy post. I’ll try to make up for it by not writing too many words :)

Last week, MLG started work on another area that we are adding those new stones to. Whereas I would just plop those stones down on the dirt just as it is, MLG works hard to make sure the water (haha, if we ever get any) will drain in the right direction, and to make the ground even, which involves digging out some pretty big rocks.

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Here’s what we have so far. I need to get a lot more rocks :/  And some topsoil and ground covers to fill in the spaces.

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Last weekend, I visited an artist’s home in the bay area, and I thought it was really interesting that everywhere in her garden she had shards of broken pottery. Most of the pottery was tumbled so that the edges were soft. An interesting way to add a bit of color to the garden.

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Then, I took my mom over to a nursery in Richmond called Annie’s Annuals and Perennials. They have a wonderful catalog, and I have a feeling that they do a huge mail order business. Everywhere they had informative signs, telling you where each plant would grow the best, their eventual size, and other stuff. They had display beds lining the huge nursery. So you could see the mature version of a plant, and then go and buy a baby of the same plant.

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See that magenta one there, with the little yellow tips on it? I got a baby of one of those. It is a Gomperena globosa “fireworks.” The catalog says it is HEAT AND DROUGHT TOLERANT!

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I also loved this pale hollyhock. Not sure where I’ll plant it, but I had to get one!

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Back home, my little babies await planting. I stopped at Alden Lane Nursery on my way home, and picked up a few more little plants.

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Here’s a close-up of another of the plants I got. It is a trachelium caeruleum “Hamer Pandora.” I love the black wiry stems.

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And I couldn’t resist a few ground covers. I love the rosy-yellow color of the one, and the other is NOT irish moss. It is an australian plant that just keeps growing in a circular mounded shape.

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Yesterday, during the endless watering. I saw this monarch butterfly fluttering around the stones. It would flutter a few feet, then land, with its wings closed. I ran to get my camera, but it kept its wings closed every time it landed. I think it must have just hatched, and it was waiting for its wings to dry. Anyway, I was quite excited, because this is the first monarch butterfly I’ve ever seen in my garden.

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I decided to try the “pet” setting on my camera. It lets you hold the button down and take continuous photos. So I finally got a series of the butterfly opening its wings!

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Bess was very happy that I was home. Quite content to snooze on the ottoman, while keeping a sleepy eye on me.

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Another weekend is upon us. Stay cool, and have fun!

In the Garden

I still have a few plants in pots. Sometimes the big common Japanese maple sends up seedlings. I like to put these in pots and grow them, and then give most of them away. One of them had grown quite large, and was in a pot on top of a stump. One day last week I walked out into the garden to find that it had just somehow fallen off of its stump, and I could see that it was very root-bound and really needed to come out of the pot. MLG to the rescue. It is now planted in a nice mostly shady spot along the front fence line.

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He also put this heavenly bamboo into the ground this week.

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MLG did a bit more stonework in the garden. And trimmed up some branches that were laying on the roof. All that to say that he left the ladder up, which gave me the urge to take some new “aerial shots” of the garden. But first, here are a few bouquets I made.

This one I made just because the rose was on a stem so high that I wouldn’t even be able to see the flower when it bloomed! I’m glad I brought it into the house. It has a wonderful scent. Thanks to Jeannie, I remembered to add a bit of greenery to this bouquet :)

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And I cut the sunflowers just because they were flopping upside down, so I get to see them right side up this way.

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Here are the aerial shots. You can see the Japanese maple on the left either got too much sun, or too much water, or too little water. They all result in dried leaves.

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I am on the ladder here, pretty much right outside my bedroom window, so this flower garden is what I get to see when I wake up. I love it!

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And now I moved the ladder up to the top of the garden, where the “dog house” is. The dogwood tree on the right is doing very well. Hoping for some blooms in the spring. And the bigger Japanese maple in front of the house is the one that started this whole garden project. It is doing very well this year.
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Just scanning a bit to the left, you can see the row of Japanese maples, and the row of hydrangeas.

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I moved the ladder outside the front fence to try to get a view of the front beds. Here you can see the little apple tree on the left, and the bigger flowering cherry on the right. In the middle is a fringe plant, and behind it is the Camperdown Elm, which is a very interesting tree. I have not got a good picture of it yet.

Oh, and you can see the new little bed that was created by MLG’s stonework. I used to have pots of plants lined up against this fence. I am thinking about putting an herb garden in here. That’s what I already had in the pots.

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And waiting for MLG–more stones!! I stopped by a real rock place, and discovered that I did not have to buy a ton at a time. These are sandstone and quartzite. I love them. Yes, I did unload 575 pounds of stones out of my car by myself :) And I am going to get another 500 pounds or so next week.

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A few weeks ago, I re-connected with my old trainer–remember, she was also the one who had the healthy gourmet food business? Anyway, turns out she loves gardening even more than me, I think. So I invited her over to see my garden, and she mentioned it was her birthday. Oh my. A legitimate reason to bake a cake :) There have been great peaches at the farmer’s market this year, and there used to be a local baker who would bring these “Armenian” cakes to sell at the Farmer’s market. I would buy one, and eat it with the fresh peaches. Internet to the rescue. I googled Armenian cake, and chose this recipe. I only changed two things. I added lemon zest, because I thought that would go well with the peaches, and I sub’d homemade strained whole milk yogurt for the sour cream. This was a simple cake to bake, and SO delicious. It really is very great with fresh fruit–I served it with slices of white and yellow peaches. Some whipped cream would be a nice addition. But you know, a bit of concession to healthy living, right?

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Have a fun and healthy weekend! I plan to hit the gym once or twice, and am enjoying lots of great fresh fruits and veggies.

 

Revisiting Homemade Yogurt

Recently blog buddy Jill sent me a link to an interesting article about an Indian woman who  brought some yogurt starter with her when she moved to the United States. And she has used that same starter to make her yogurt for the last forty years! That kind of inspired me to make yogurt again. In the past, I always thought the yogurt got weaker, so periodically I would buy a new yogurt from the grocery store to start my yogurt. I’m going to see how long I can keep this batch going!

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I wrote out instructions on how I make my yogurt here. Its very simple, with little to no clean-up necessary. I like my homemade yogurt because it is not that tangy. But if you want it tangier, just leave it out overnight. I did this with the last batch, and it is quite tangy!

Here’s a picture of my straining set-up. If you like your yogurt thicker, just strain it through coffee filters for about 20 minutes. See that glass of yellow liquid? I save the liquid I strain out of the yogurt (the whey) to make my smoothies with. It adds a certain delicious ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the smoothie.

DSCN3163My favorite ways to eat the yogurt are currently:

  • with a topping of Shelley’s most excellent granola
  • in a smoothie, mixed with frozen strawberries, the whey, and some spinach
  • topped with Bob’s Redmill Muesli and a few mini chocolate chips (for dessert.)

Some Eats, and Some Garden Treats

As far as the garden goes, part of me feels like we are on the never-ending death march towards fall. I am hopeful that I can keep all the Japanese maples watered well enough so that I get some fall color this year. I’m pruning back most of the flowers in the hopes that I’ll get some fresh blooms. I’m contemplating putting in a drip system. Almost every day I spend some time watering, and soaking the trees. I put the hose on very low by a tree, and run back in the house and set the timer for 20 or 30 minutes. I’m thinking about whether I want to add more stone paths or more beds. There’s a little more room out there! MLG says we are due for a La Nina this fall. I don’t particularly like rain, but I would welcome some water to fill up my well (I don’t really know how that works, but I think it will help.) In the meantime, the weather is heading back up to over 100 degrees by the weekend.

I’ve been enjoying little mini-bouquets. Petunias actually last a long time as cut flowers!

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And here’s that white daylily. Surrounded by the forest of fairy impatiens. I’ve learned a bit about self-seeding plants this year. I only had 2 fairy impatiens last year, in two different locations. I was so excited to have so many little seedlings in the spring, that I let most of them grow. That was too much! They have done well, and are very pretty. But there are places where the plants below them are not getting any sun at all. I have started ruthlessly weeding some of them out.

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Here’s a new recipe I developed, Blueberry Protein Coffee Cake. I really like it, and its a good source of protein for a breakfast cake. The recipe inspiration was Georgie’s Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake. I love it filled with blueberries, and decided I didn’t need the cinnamon streusel at all.

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And I know you won’t believe it, but I never buy raw shrimp. I just buy the ones that are already cooked. Lately those have been rather pricey, so when I saw these raw shrimps on sale, I bought them. Oh, yum yum. I just put five shrimpies in a sandwich bag with some mashed garlic and a teaspoon of olive oil. I cooked them on a little cast iron pan, which I think helps with getting that nice crust on them.

Here I served them over some veggies and some of those edamame noodles.  BTW, those edamame noodles are so good, but very dry. I still need to find some way to serve them that does not involve a bucket of olive oil. Any ideas?

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My favorite meal this summer is taco salad. Ever since Cammy shared Pancho’s Tropical salad dressing recipe (which I adjusted for my own needs) I can’t get enough of it. I think I really like the taste of cumin. And of course, it is a bit sweet. I bought some turkey burger patties at Costco that I didn’t particularly like. They worked perfect for turning into the taco meat. (I just use the packaged taco seasoning.) As you know, there are a ton of things that you can add to taco salad, but most of the time I opt for these simple ingredients. (if I have cilantro in the fridge, I like to add that too.) I chop them up, put them in the big bowl, and dress them with that salad dressing, and then dump the taco meat on top. Here is a link to my version of the tropicale dressing. 

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And that’s just about all the news that’s fit to print around here. I spend a lot of time every day in the studio, working on my art. Click on over to The Other Blog, if you want to see what’s new.

Down the Garden Path

So MLG was here this week. We worked on extending the patchwork path down between the two front beds, where the cherry tree is planted.

First, a step-down had to be created:

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Bessie LOVES laying against the warm stones.

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Looking back towards the patchwork path, where Noah is standing:

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The new path, from the other end. That’s the cherry tree trunk, where Sophie is.

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From up above. We didn’t leave any spaces for ground covers. Just made some “patches” with the extra small stones.

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There wasn’t a whole lot new going on in the garden. Here is the Japanese Lantern (abutillion) It is ridiculously tall, even though I cut it down to practically nothing last winter.

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It is finally starting to bloom.

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This white hydrangea is blooming. It is a “hydrangea paniculata” (thank you Google images :) )

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I love the delicate flowers on this one.

DSCN3144The row of hydrangeas was one of the first things MLG planted in the ground for me. The three plants were in pots, and were not doing very well. Its taken a couple of years, but they finally seem established in their place in the garden.

I think a lot about this garden and how it has evolved. I never set out to create a big garden. I didn’t have a master plan. I did think a little bit about where we were adding features, and whether they would fit into the yard as a whole. But still I have no master plan. Is this how most gardens evolve?

How Do Thin People Eat?

So. The other day I was sick and fed up with myself. ALWAYS thinking about food. Always wondering how long til the next meal or snack.

Normal people aren’t like this, are they? So I googled “how do thin people eat?” And I came across a decent article. I even wrote down the eight bullet points from the article. So I could study them and become a thin person :)

  • They choose satisfied over stuffed.
  • They realize hunger isn’t an emergency.

    Bess and Noah waiting impatiently for me to fix their breakfast. They think hunger is an emergency.

    Bess and Noah waiting impatiently for me to fix their breakfast. They think hunger is an emergency.

 

Sophie uses a bone to cure her anxiety. I don't do that.

Sophie uses a bone to cure her anxiety. I don’t do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They don’t use food to cure the blues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They eat more fruit.

    Yes please!

    Yes please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They’re creatures of habit (they have a food template.) Heeeyyyy…
  • They have a self-control gene (I can practice this.)
  • They’re movers and shakers (on their feet more.)
  • They sleep–well.

So, I have some of these traits down. Others I made a note that I could practice. I’m pretty sure I can get all eight of these practices into my life and I still won’t be thin. But maybe I won’t be so obsessed with food?

Sometimes its very hard for me to make changes (see previous post about my food template.) I like to eat at the same time, and there are certain foods I don’t want to change (see Quest bars and lately, low calorie popcorn.) Right now I’m working on waiting until I am hungry before I eat my next meal or snack.

Well, at the end of this, I guess I’m just saying I’m not finished yet. I still need to work on my relationship with food. I can take comfort in the fact that for the most part I make very healthy choices (see Quest bars and low calorie popcorn.) I mostly eat fresh whole foods. And regular exercise is an established part of my life. I’m blessed that I don’t have a ton of stress in my life right now. I sleep okay–it could be better (please, Mr. Skunk, will you find another route to take?)

How long til my next meal? What am I going to eat then? :)