Just in Time for Winter

I’ve said several times that we’ve had an unusually mild winter. A few weeks ago, things started blooming.

My little flowering quince that I “bonsai’d” last fall:

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Daffodils started appearing:

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A few hyacinths started popping up:

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And of course, violets, one of the earliest harbingers of spring:

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The pink camellia has even put out a few blooms:

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And my heuchera? Usually it is just sticks at this time of year. It never stopped blooming!

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I bought a 15 pack of primroses from Costco and have been enjoying their cheerful color when I drive up. Its been warm but so dry that I have had to water several times already.

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And of course last fall I planted 80 tulip bulbs and I think about 50 daffodil bulbs. They have all started popping up…

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Just in time for winter. We have a week of weather predicted with temps in the 20’s at night and snow and ice predicted. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen…

 

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This ‘n’ That

I got lots to talk about. First, I thought I’d share a few more pictures of the trees changing color in my yard. It was a very short season of color, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

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Red Emperor with Lemon Lime in front:

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That’s the dogwood to the left. Even if it doesn’t bloom in the spring, it is always beautiful in the fall.

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Recipes and foodie ideas. Lately I’ve been trying out some new recipes. I saw an old picture on my computer which looked like I was trying to make some cranberry-pecan scones. I looked through my blogs, and apparently I never posted anything about it. So I did a google search for cranberry pecan scones and came upon this recipe. When I saw it was from Prevention magazine, I thought it might be slightly healthier than other recipes. It wasn’t as low cal as I usually try for, mostly because it had more nuts and cranberries than I would usually add. I LOVED this recipe. I realized at the end that it had absolutely no sugar in it, so I made a small amount of sugar glaze to put on it at the end. Of course I made a few substitutions. I actually didn’t have enough pecans, so I used walnuts. And I didn’t have whole wheat flour, so I ground some oats in my mini food processor and used that instead. I really like the way oats taste in baked goods.

Then a couple of weeks later, I wanted some real banana nut muffins. And I found this recipe.I liked it too! The title said they were healthy. Once again I ground oats to use as the flour. I did use about 1/4 cup of regular wheat flour. Oh, and I didn’t have maple syrup so I substituted honey. But I did make a note to myself that they were too sweet. So I will try again without the honey after I finish all of these.

I’m eating more eggs. I like them scrambled for dinner with some onions, potatoes, spinach, and sometimes a few bacon crumbles.

One day I wanted some salsa. And even though I haven’t made it for ages, I suddenly remembered how easy it was to make. I put two roma tomatoes and one slice of onion in the mini food processor. I added salt and pepper and some cilantro, and then just a bit of balsamic vinegar. YUMM!!!

Sunday I had my sister and her husband over for a pre-Christmas dinner. I get occasional emails from a dietician, Vincci Tsui. She has changed from a “diet” dietician to a HAES dietician, which is interesting. Anyway, one day she mentioned this gingerbread cake. It caught my eye because the recipe was from a famous quilter who used to be a food blogger. So I made the cake. It was moist and delicious. I did not make any substitutes for this recipe. I found a buttercream recipe and iced it with that.

Well, its Christmastime and for me that means baking a few things. I forget how much I enjoy baking. To keep things under control, I limit myself to making one kind of cookie and one candy (which is always my grandma’s cinnamon walnuts.) This year I found a recipe for traditional scottish shortbread, which seemed exactly the same as the one our grandma used to make. You have to work all the butter into the dough with your fingers. Which takes a long time. Anyway, they came out perfect. It was a fun gift for my sister–two of our grandma’s favorite confections. I also made my mom’s favorite fruitcake. I know. Nobody likes fruitcake. But honestly, if you saw the recipe (lots of butter) and smelled the house (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and brandy) you would like it too! Its not so filled with that stupid fruit. I only put some of the cherries, and dates and pecans in it. And then you put a little brandy on it every day for two weeks (or until you have to take it to your mom’s.)

The takeover. I have a small log holder next to my wood stove. But several years ago, the girls claimed it as the best most warmest spot in the house. So I made a pillow to fit in it for them. Bess usually occupies the spot (because Sophie would rather be on my lap) but occasionally Sophie gets first dibs. I couldn’t believe it when Bess very gingerly stepped up onto the throne in an attempt to takeover the spot. There was no fighting or carrying on. Just a gentle takeover.

 

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Well, that’s quite long enough for now. If I don’t post again, I hope you all have a Wonderful Peaceful Merry Christmas.

I Went to Lake Tahoe!

I decided to go to an Art Quilt retreat at Lake Tahoe. It was the first week of November, so for weeks ahead of time, I was nervous about the drive up–would it snow??? Sure enough, snow was predicted for the day I drove up 😦 I went and got chains for my car, and then nervously checked the CA road reports every day. And then the weather changed. No snow, and it was a beautiful drive up there!

I love Lake Tahoe. I’ve told you before how we spent many summer vacations in Tahoe when I was a kid. Now it seems I go more often in the fall, although I usually go earlier than this. The lake changed every day. The first day it was clear and smooth.

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The next day there were clouds obscuring the mountains, and the lake was a little choppier. To me, that makes it look almost like the ocean. I like it better when I can see the far shore.

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The next day it was even choppier (and colder!)

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I noticed on the drive up the huge boulders that line the river that runs along the highway. These big rocks are everywhere. I really like them.

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And then, before you know it, it was time to come home. And even though I observed that the pine trees in Tahoe were prettier than our pine trees at home, I was so very happy to be coming home. I love where I live. This is one of the things I love. Just the simplicity of the live oaks turning bright yellow and shining through the pines and the scrub oaks.

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Back in the garden, some of the Japanese maples were turning colors:

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And here’s something that JUST. SHOULD. NOT. BE. Two of my foxgloves were blooming! Does this mean they won’t bloom in the spring???

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Here’s where we planted two Aspens at the back of the yard. I will be so excited when they get a little bigger. They are so beautiful in the fall–there are thousands of them growing further up the hill on the way to Lake Tahoe.

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Did I show you this already? We rescued some logs from a recently chopped down pine (phone company had to remove some dead pines.) And MLG made this little area to display my bonsai trees!

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Some nice color from this maple bonsai.

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And that’s the report for now. I hope all of you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!!

This ‘n That

The chickens are starting to lay eggs! I’m having so much fun gathering them. So far they’re laying all different sizes. Even though all my chickens are standard sized, some of their eggs are still “banty sized.” The big ones are double-yolkers!!

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Sometimes this is exactly how I feel:

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“I just want to drink coffee, raise chickens, and take naps”

My knee is doing great. But the heel on that same leg hurts like heck. I went for my final checkup with the surgeon (for 9 months) and told him about it, and they did x-rays on it. No fracture. The physical therapist doesn’t think its plantar fasciitis (I don’t think so either) but they are having me do some stretching exercises and that seems to help a little. Its just discouraging to still have that same leg hurting to be walking. HOWEVER, after saying rather pitifully to my BF that I didn’t think I would walk too much any more because my arthritis was so bad, I decided that I was being a baby. So I have been challenging myself to take longer and more vigorous walks. It feels good mentally :/

I’ve been trying out some new recipes. Jill recommended this one, which says its pizza sauce, but its really just a marinara sauce recipe. Its easy to vary the recipe a bit using what you like/have on hand. I like chunks of tomatoes in my sauce, so I usually use  I am loving making this and freezing it in zip lock baggies and then using it for whatever. I made a low-cal chicken recipe using some chicken tenders. I mixed in some fresh spinach with the marinara sauce, used less than half a serving of penne pasta, and then topped it with some fresh mozzarella that was on sale. YUMM, and only 250 calories! Sorry, no picture.

Then, Biz recommended this pumpkin baked oatmeal. I looked the recipe over, and the stats on it were pretty high–400 calories for a serving. Then I realized that the serving size was huge, even for a volume eater like me. So I cut it into 8 pieces instead of 6, and voila! 300 calories per serving 🙂 I got up bright and early one morning, and made this recipe. Right before I put it in the oven, I had a brief thought that there was not much pumpkin pie spice in it, so I took a little taste, and it seemed okay. After it had been in the oven for 15 minutes, THAT’s when I realized that I actually left the pumpkin out of the recipe. Aaargh. I guess I wasn’t quite awake enough. Anyway, I adjusted the cooking time down, and it is still quite delicious. I can’t wait to make it with the pumpkin in it!

Thursday night we had a good rain storm, the first in months! Saturday I went out to see what was still looking good in the garden. Here are the petunias I planted by the studio door. I think I will always have some flowers growing in this–it mostly protects the plants from the deer, and its cheerful to see the flowers when I drive up.

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The roses are loving our cooler temperatures. This is the “wild” rose. The branches hang down. I plan to put a little support for it for next spring, but I love how it is a prolific bloomer.

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Other roses:

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The tuberous begonia. I got a two for one in this pot!

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The dwarf abutilon is loving the fall.

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And the mandevillea vine is still going strong.

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So, in other garden news, I have voles in my yard! I couldn’t figure out why the dirt was rising up in certain areas. MLG is here today, and pointed out the vole trails to me. I found these solar vole repellants on Amazon. Anyone have any experience using these things?

And that’s about all for now. Have a great week!

 

 

In The Garden

Since I came home from my quilt show a week ago, I’ve spent more time working in the garden. It seems like there’s a lot of catching up to do… my new drip watering system has made the weeds very happy :/ Here’s some photos of what’s happening. These are plants that seem to be enjoying the cooler weather we’ve been having.

The front flower bed. We’ve enlarged this bed a bit, and when winter comes, we will add more soil to it. When we first put it in, it wasn’t raised very much, and so there’s not that much good soil in there. This is what I see when i drive up to my house, and I enjoy seeing all the color.

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I got a tuberous begonia, which mostly enjoys a cooler coastal weather. But since I got it in September, it has actually bloomed a bit for me.

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This bed is past its prime, but like I said, the cooler weather has given some  of the flowers renewed vigor. Especially that one volunteer nasturtium.

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Here’s the salvia with the rudbeckia(?). They’re a little crowded now, but they will both do so well next year.

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I mentioned that this hydrangea turned green when it was past its prime, but then a month later the blooms turned pink. This bush is very rangy, but the flowers are so beautiful and last for so long, its worth it.

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I got another dwarf flowering maple (abutilon). I love these crinkly blooms.

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And here’s the zinnias, which you can see are crowding that rudbeckia. So very cheerful, and these blooms last a long time too!

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And that’s the garden report for another week. Have a happy and safe weekend.

And Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program

Here is a big long picture-heavy post to catch you up on the garden and the chickens! The garden hasn’t exactly suffered this year (since we put in a watering system,) but it hasn’t had my full attention either. Next year will be a better year in the garden. Here’s what’s blooming this week.

The Zinnias are finally starting to grow and bloom more. Behind them is the gaillardia, blue salvia, and a geranium.

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A nice mandevillia vine. MLG built me a little trellis for it to grow on. They are not frost hardy so it will be an annual. Most of the plants I buy are either six-packs, or a gallon sized plant for $7.50. To me that is a nice price for a summer’s worth of blooms.

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This is a new plant for me. It looks like I plopped a bouquet in the garden. It is a rudebekia Prairie Sun. Huge yellow flowers. Its supposed to be a perennial, and I thought it would look nice between the wild pink rose and the small blue perennial (don’t know the name but the bees love it.)

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Here it is in context:

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Liriope. I have several of these, and several were transplanted this year. This one is doing the best of all of them.

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And now for the chicken report! I was glad that I had the chickens to amuse and distract me after my surgery. I loved going out and sitting and watching them in the late afternoon. Chickens are attracted to anything red, and I think they have a sweet tooth too, so they really love watermelon. Since they are still so young, I am careful to not give them too much fruit. Do you see who is in the very center of that picture? BABY!! She is doing so well. Goes in and out with the big girls, and doesn’t let anyone pick on her. She knows to just stay out of the way.

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Buff Orpington, with a Dominique behind her:

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New Hampshire Red:

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And here is Baby in action. She seems to know how to get exactly what she wants. She looks the situation over, and chooses the path of least resistance.

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Speckled Sussex. I am still a little hopeful that this is a hen that just has a rooster-like appearance.

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This IS a rooster, darn it! Both of the polish chicks turned into roosters.

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These are the Delaware chickens. I really like their delicate lacy black neck feathers. They seem to be very peaceful chickens.

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All the chickens take turns sitting on/standing on/laying in these pots.

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Pretty sure this guy will turn into a rooster. He always comes and stands by the fence right where I am sitting on the other side. I started calling him Buddy. If I keep a rooster, this will be the one.

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Can’t you tell by Baby’s stance that she is saying, “I’m cool. What’s that over there?” I am so happy with all the forward movement she’s made by herself. I’ve even seen her get up on a lower shelf to roost the past few nights.

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And now you are all caught up with the chickens. Today I stopped at a nursery and got a few more plants to fill in a few places in the garden. What can I say? I like pink. These are snapdragons, a Pentas, and dianthus–small, but has a definite carnation smell!

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And a Vinca–three colors in one pot!

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And that’s the garden report for this week.

 

Chicken and Garden Report

Baby goes outside! One day I looked out my window (whenever I am near the studio or kitchen window I always look out to see what’s going on in the chicken yard.) I was SO SURPRISED and excited to see Baby out in the yard. She seemed to be enjoying herself, running here and there with her little hitch, checking out the greens I had thrown out there, and mixing in with the big girls. So far she has not gotten picked on–you know, the pecking order. I have a feeling she will know to just stay out of the way. She also has a couple of “friends” who seem to stick close by. And of course, she didn’t know to go back into the house at night. It was so cute–one of the buff orpingtons had settled down next to her in the yard. Anyway, got them back inside and all was well. I think it was maybe a little overwhelming, because she hasn’t gone back outside since then…

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Another day I looked outside and there was something very large and brown standing on top of the bird netting that MLG had put across the top of the chicken yard. I ran outside–it was a HUGE hawk, who was not at all afraid of me, and was bouncing up and down on the netting to try to get in! I was SOOOO glad that I had had MLG put that netting in place. He did a very secure job. If I had done it myself, it might have been much easier for Mr. Hawk to get inside! He hasn’t been back since then, so fingers crossed that he thinks its a lost cause.

Here is the view of the garden that I enjoy when I sit on my fake patio.

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The volunteer petunias have returned, although a much smaller batch of them. along with some weeds…

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Phlox.

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Most of the oriental lilies came back. I had kind of forgotten about them, so that was a nice surprise.

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Mr. Bougainvillea is doing very well, and I love having it.

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Close-up. Aren’t those little white centers a beautiful detail?

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The Jackson Perkins rose that I complained about last year. It is doing very well, and I do love the color and the smell of it.

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The hydrangeas are doing well, but I’m a little stumped as to why the flower clusters are so small.

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This is that rose that is grown on its own root stock. Its kind of wild and crazy. I think it might need a little fence support behind it next year. Lots of little blooms.

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And that’s the garden and report and chicken update for this week.