Garden Vignettes

I just love these little flower vignettes when I am inspecting the garden. So many of them include surprises–that just increases the joy! The nasturtium are volunteers from last year.


I planted the pale yellow petunia and the blue lobelia, but the deep magenta petunia was a volunteer hybrid too.


More petunia volunteers next to the salvia.


What’s wrong with this picture? That little volunteer pansy that survived, despite the heat and the crowded planting, and Noah’s pansy munching. Delightful!


All the colors of nature go so well together!


A new plant–gallardia. I like the solid yellow color of this one. Reminds me of cone flowers–maybe I’ll have better luck with them. You can see I got a few ground covers there. I’ve got a couple of places that aren’t so good for the flowers–I’m hoping the ground covers will take off.


The volunteer morning glory. It is absolutely this brilliant in real life. Next to a white petunia that I actually planted, and a volunteer marigold.


Here is a view of my green beans and one of the tomato plants. I am getting just enough vegetables to enjoy something for dinner almost every night.


The honeysuckle is holding its own against the humongous cherry tomato plant!


And the morning glory that I planted gives me a few pretty blooms every morning. This vine REALLY likes full sun. Next year it needs to go someplace else.


And that’s what’s happening in the garden this week!


The One Thing No Country Home Should Ever Be Without

Can anyone guess?

Hydrogen peroxide!

Does everyone know why?


Probably everyone knows this, but I still hear the occasional person mention tomato juice as a skunk odor removal. All tomato juice does is make such a mess that you might temporarily forget that your dog stinks.

And everyone knows that skunks only come out at night, right? So that is most likely when your dog will get sprayed by a skunk.

And who really wants to go out in the middle of the night or very early in the morning to look for hydrogen peroxide?

One of the first time one of my dogs got skunked was shortly after I moved here. I didn’t even have a fence. I had come home from a night shift, and it happened. I had to leave my dog outside, yelling at him “YOU STAY THERE” while I drove off in search of H2O2.

About 4:30 this morning, Bess let out an alarm bark. She considers herself the early warning system for Noah. Because sometimes he sleeps very soundly. Anyway, the next thing I knew, Noah barked, followed by that horrible rotting flesh smell….

I actually managed to kind of sleep until 6am, and then the search was on for hydrogen peroxide. Under the kitchen sink? Nope. How about the bathroom cabinet? Nope, but I did straighten up under there. Maybe. Just maybe there would be some out in the laundry dungeon. BINGO!!!! I was so glad to see that ancient bottle of H2O2.

Here’s the formula, in case you haven’t heard of it: 1 bottle of hydrogen peroxide (2 cups,) 2 Tbsp baking soda, and 1 Tbsp dish detergent (like Dawn.) Mix well, and wash the skunky parts of your dog with this. Try to let it sit on your dog for a few minutes, and then rinse very well. Don’t put any leftover solution in a closed container and save it. Evidently it will explode.

Anyway, we are now all clean and relatively smell-less. It was actually very fortunate that I had decided to give Noah a bath yesterday. It was easy to identify where he stunk and just wash those parts.

Have a sweet smelling weekend everyone!

The Relentlessness of Food

Lately I’ve grown a little weary of the endless counting/journaling/calculating/decision-making nature of the way I choose to eat and control my daily meals. Food–its just relentless! Its always there. You can’t live without it.

Even when you decided almost 10 years ago that a certain food item is not healthy and you don’t need to have three a week and in fact you very very seldom ever eat one (hamburgers,) ten years later they’re still there, and you find yourself still wanting one too often. Even the “good stuff”–whole, healthy non-processed foods–if there is too much in the house at one time, its easy to eat too much of that stuff too.

I know its a temporary feeling. I’m not on any type of slippery slope. I just wanted to put that out there–its relentless. It never ends. Its wearying.

The Closet

So J. the contractor was back last week! We went over all the plans for the new kitchen addition and the bathroom and laundry room re-do. J. was interested when he saw the “outdoor shower.” It was here when I first moved in, and it has been a great place for me to have hot and cold water to give the dogs baths over the years. I was like “NO, I DO NOT TAKE OUTDOOR SHOWERS!” And then he explained about the whole construction thing, and I was like “Oh, yes! I will be happy to take outdoor showers!” This is going to be quite an adventure.

Anyway, the main reason he came over was to install the closet that he made. He mentioned that he had some nice pine, and I said I liked pine. I didn’t mention that I like NATURAL pine. Oh well. First contractor mis-communication. He stained it nicely. Other than that, I LOVE it. I never had open shelving before, so I was very unsure of that. Now I understand. It is like legalizing leaving your clothes out! I had him build the pull out drawers because I was so unsure of the open shelving. I’m sure they’ll come in handy for something or other. I also like the cubes I had him build. They are just the right size for the Ikea baskets. I really liked them when I got that set for the studio. They are a very nice way to contain and hide things.

The open shelving and the slanted shoe rack–ooh, I love the slanted shoe rack too. Notice how every single shoe I have left is completely flat. Yesterday I tried to wear a pair of sandals with a one inch heel, and my knee hurt too much. They are in the thrift store pile now. : (


The hanging rod. Oops, my drawing was not exactly to scale. I have a few things that are longer than the space I allowed. I might ask him about fixing that later.


The best part about all this construction? Its forced me to clean things thoroughly. And at least for a while, I am determined to NOT mess the spaces up. So nothing goes in the closet without a good reason for it to be there!

Early Morning in the Garden

This is the shade garden. You can see where we moved the smaller Japanese Maple out and I replaced it with a pot of coleus and a fast growing hanging plant.


My oldest lace-leaf Japanese Maple is doing very well this year.


I went outside the fence to get this pic–I like the fringed daisies with the blue delphinium (they are a type of delphinium–not as showy as the big ones, but they have a beautiful blue color.)


Volunteer sunflower. And the great plant hunter there in the background.





A close-up of the honeysuckle. I’m so happy that this vine is doing well this year. Last year it got over-whelmed by the tomato forest and the deer.DSCN1679

I like these little vignettes of volunteer petunias. Oh, and see that lantern there? I got a set of 8 of those from Costco, and at night I look out my bedroom window and it looks like a fairyland out there!

The phlox plant (thanks for the I.D.!) is doing extremely well. Now what? Am I supposed to divide it next spring? Oh, you can see a good view of the dog room there. The latest thing I talked to J. the contractor about is using my old window air conditioner to install in their room. Oh brother. What I won’t do for those dogs. But practically speaking, then I don’t have to worry about leaving them out there when I travel and we are having a heat wave.


My “pesky” lantana is doing very well. One reader (I think from Australia) mentioned that they were considered a pest plant over there. I can understand that. But here they die every winter, so they are just an annual. And I love them. I have three of them this year. Oh, and that is my little basil forest in the back there.


St. Francis and the front of the shade garden. There is another variety of lantana.


So we moved a couple of the Japanese maples, and now there is a whole curved row of them. It looks better in person.


This is the time of year that I get weary of the endless watering. I told MLG “no more gardens for now!” Our next project is just a little stone work, and then we are going to talk about putting in a drip watering system.

And that’s what’s happening in the garden right now. I have harvested 5 cherry tomatoes, 4 green beans, and a few zucchini (a miracle considering Sophie demolished an entire zucchini plant single-handedly.) I’m hopeful to be enjoying a few more fresh vegetables in the near future!

The Summer of Ceviche


DSCN1650I think this will be my favorite dinner this summer!

  1. No stove cooking.
  2. Minimal prep time.
  3. Low cal light dish that tastes luxurious.
  4. Recipe makes 3 servings–three dinners ready to go!

Here’s all the ingredients you need to gather. Thaw the pre-cooked salad shrimp and microwave the corn ahead of time. Then just chop and combine.


I don’t need to belabor the point. I think I’ve talked about this recipe enough on this blog. But its worth repeating–DELICIOUS!! I love it so much I just eat a bowl of it by itself. That does it for me. But if you wanted to, you could make yourself some tortilla chips to go with.


AIM Food: Its All in a Day


In discussing what our next post was going to be, someone came up with the great idea of discussing food, and each of us would take one meal, and kind of make it like a progressive dinner, only it would be individual meals served throughout a single day. So you gotta know how excited I was about this challenge! First, its about food, right? And then, its about planning to have an entire day of food with my very good blog buddies. I would so love it if this were real and not imaginary. If you’d like to follow along with us throughout the day, start with Shelley, who is serving us breakfast.

I was assigned dessert (thank you, Lori! I was just trying to be polite by not nabbing it first thing.) And then I had to obsess over what I would serve my friends. What would be pleasing to all of them, and still fit into our “maintenance” food plan? Several things came to mind immediately. I wanted to include fruit, because its just a great season for fruit. And even though I use artificial sweeteners (Splenda) liberally myself, I’m pretty careful about not offering that to other people–a lot of people don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners. So I needed a recipe that would use a minimal amount of sugar or honey to sweeten it.

My first plan was to make these little honey and coconut bites. They are absolutely delicious, although a bit energy dense (code for small serving with higher calories.) And then I thought I’d simply serve some fresh fruit with this fruit dip. I thought it was a good pairing.

So I went to the farmer’s market this morning to get some strawberries and peaches. (Yes, I was taking this challenge very literally!) I thought those particular fruits would be terrific with the dip. When I finally got to the market, there were only blackberries and nectarines left. So I got those, and headed home. On the way home, I started thinking again. They weren’t exactly what I’d had in mind. What could I make that would use these two fruit?


Bong bong bong!!! I could make that healthy fruit crisp. It is such a simple recipe, only has 127 calories per serving, and comes out perfect every time. I know people like it. And hello? It calls for granola as a topping! I could use Shelley’s Hippie Granola!

You cook the fruit first

You cook the fruit first


And then you add the granola and cook just a little longer.

And then you add the granola and cook just a little longer.

Oh and then–you gotta have ice cream with a fruit crisp. But of course, I wanted it to be frozen yogurt. Because hello? Most of us talk a lot about frozen yogurt. I’ve even enjoyed a trip to the froyo shop with both Shelley and Cammie!. So I got out my Cuisinart ice cream maker recipe book, and there is a very simple recipe for a low calorie peach frozen yogurt–perfect!

The finished crisp!

The finished crisp!

And while I actually made the fruit crisp (it can double as a breakfast topping for my regular morning yogurt,) you’re gonna have to imagine the froyo, because, alas, my friends are not actually coming over for dessert, and that is just a little too much good food to have in my house at one time! I will definitely make it at a later date this summer! The recipe is so simple–only three ingredients–a can of peaches packed in their own juice, 2 cups of vanilla low-fat yogurt, and 1/3 cup of sugar. It comes out to 110 calories per 1/2 cup serving.

Here’s the list of all of my AIM friends:

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet



Stuff in the Garden

First, an overview of the sun garden. Its a rather messy jungle this year. A lot of the petunias were volunteers, which I am enjoying a LOT. But some of the plants just look messy–either I need to move some of these plants to other locations or just delete them. Feel free to chime in with advice and/or opinions.


Next: what is this plant? I waited and waited for it to bloom. It was a nice sturdy looking plant, but took forever to bloom. I’m not sure why I bought it last year. Could it have been another color and then reverted to white this year??


Close-up of the blooms:


I love this petunia–appropriately named “Apple Blossoms.”


The squash blossoms always amaze and surprise me–so huge and beautiful in the early morning. They almost look like a daylily!


Speaking of which–look at what surprised me!


I am loving these fringed daisies! I bought two 4 inch plants last fall, and they are already pretty big bushes!


A new plant! I need to get something for it to climb on. I was told it will die at first frost. My plan, if I am so organized, is to pot it up and take it to my mom’s house in the bay area for the winter.


And, I got another of my favorites–a morning glory. Lets hope it does a little better than last year’s plant, which refused to bloom most of the summer.


What are these plants called? I like them when I see them other places. But in my garden they are messy and unruly.


Caught in the act!


“What??? I was just SNIFFING them!”


And that’s what’s happening in the garden this week. If you are a gardener, be sure to spend some time just enjoying your blooms. I find that I spend a LOT of time looking down at the dirt–does it need more water? does it need to be broken up? are there too many weeds? And then I remember to stop and look up. Ahhh. That’s what a garden is all about!