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!


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.


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.


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?


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. 


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:






Bessie LOVES laying against the warm stones.



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


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




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


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.


It is finally starting to bloom.


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


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?

In the Garden

I’m pretty excited about the latest garden project! And before I start I have to give major props to MLG for being willing to do this kind of work in my yard. I don’t believe there is one square inch of level ground in my yard, and honestly, one inch below the surface is where the rocks start! Mark Twain (who lived in this area for a while) even said something about how terrible the ground was up here.

Anyway, MLG works hard to make paths level, and also to slant things in such a way that the water will run away from the house. NOT things that would come to mind if I was doing this myself.

So here is the patchwork path. I saw the idea in a magazine. My path is not the same as the one in the magazine, and in fact, MLG suggested the red brick in the center of the ground cover spaces. I agreed, since we are having a drought, and that would make it less plants to water for now. Also, I do believe I will be less likely to trip by having a more solid path :)




Best new toy of 2015! Lori recommended this tool, a Cape Cod weeder, and after researching and bugging Lori a bit, I finally ordered this one. When it came I was very distressed at how small it was, so I took this picture to check with Lori if this was the right tool. She reassured me that it was, so I took it out to the garden and gave it a try. Holy moly! I never had so much fun weeding in my life! It works just like Lori said. I love it!


The Bee Balm came back to life and bloomed this year! I had it in the wrong place, and it just about died. So in the fall I moved it to its current location. It seems very happy there. My favorite shade of pink, and such a pretty flower shape.



This plant is blooming again. Has a lovely scent!


Just another look at the Teddy Bear sunflowers. I love seeing the little bits of color from the petunia and pansy peeking out below it.


Here is a view of the front garden from outside the deer fence. You can see the pink honeysuckle is still doing well, and the fringe daisies are there, with the sunflowers and free petunias mingled in. Oh, and you can see the wheelbarrow that I always leave out, and that is the storage shed behind it.


I found this picture in my queue and was puzzled by it. Ohhhh, a water feature. I saw it in a nursery and snapped a quick picture of it. I don’t have a water feature in my garden. Perhaps a project for next year?


In The Garden

I returned from my trip to the seaside (high’s of 70 degrees,) to a heat wave here in the foothills (100 degrees when I arrived home.) The garden looks a little sad about the heat, but it mostly fared well, thanks to my “babysitter” being willing to water the plants while I was gone.

First, here is where I was (I went to Cambria Pines for rug hooking camp again.) I managed to get away to visit the sea three times. I even took a few walks along the boardwalk that they have there.

Day 1:


Day 2:



Day 3:


This is a houseplant that I bought at the nursery in Cambria. It is so beautiful. Does anybody know what it is? (they told me, but I can’t remember.)



I found a few new blooms to share. The fairy impatiens have taken over!


Another of the grocery store roses has bloomed!


The volunteer Teddy Bear sunflowers have started to bloom!


The hydrangea is full of buds. This is the first to bloom. It is a lace cap hydrangea. Unfortunately, I think hydrangeas like it a bit cooler. I wish they had bloomed earlier.


This is very weird. This was a plain old hydrangea. It has been weaker than the other hydrangea ever since we planted them in the ground two years ago. Last year it didn’t even bloom. And this year, there are two blooms like this on it. Its like it has morphed into a completely different plant! I think it is very pretty.


And just a view of the sunny bed.



We are having a drought here in Sunny California. Some of you might have heard about that :) I am on a well, so my watering is not really restricted. But I do try to be responsible in my water usage, and of course, I worry occasionally about my well going dry. My main concession is that I am not adding any new plants right now. The best way for me to do that is to just not visit the nursery :(

In The Garden

First rose of the year!


This wildflower was literally growing out of the side of a rock on my road!

The star jasmine (saved from the trash heap!) is finally blooming.


And the peacock with her beautiful headdress :)


My grocery store rose. Did I tell you I was too cheap to buy a rose at the nursery for $40? So I saw these rose bushes outside the local grocery store for $5 each. I bought three of them, and two of them actually lived and have blooms this first year.


Practicing my close-up shots:


All of the flowers in this shot were volunteers!


The first blooms on the “fairy impatien.” These are growing all over the yard, and they are all self-seeded from one plant that I bought last year.


My baby astilbe. Maybe I have finally found the right place to grow these…


And this is the stonework that MLG did this week for me. I kept buying more of the stones from Lowes and Home Depot, until I had a decent amount to work with, and so we extended the front courtyard(?) that I had done myself years ago. There is a slope to the land in my yard, and so MLG worked at making sure the water drained the right way.


From this angle, you can see where the travertine path comes in.


And this is the most astounding thing of all. Did I complain to you about my apple tree not having any blossoms this year? I mean, its a young tree, so I was not expecting apples for 5 years (that’s what they said at the nursery.) But I love apple blossoms, and so I was very disappointed that there were literally 2 clusters of blossoms on the whole tree. And then this morning, I was looking out the window, and what do I see but a real apple growing!! And there is a second apple–so one from each blossom cluster.


Its heating up around here. I hope you have nice weather wherever you are, and have a wonderful relaxing weekend.


In the Garden

Well, I didn’t think there was much new to report, but I went out to the yard, and found more to take pictures of than you might want to see! Fun.

The biggest thing is something that MLG has been doing for the past couple of weeks. I have this thing about paver stones……I like them. So I saw these rectangular travertine stones, and they seemed like such a good price, so I bought 16 of them. Had no plans or idea of how to use them… showed them to MLG, and he came up with this idea. Which I loved, but umm, yeah. It took a lot more than 16 stones…. Sigh. I have been to Lowes and Home Depot three times in the past two weeks, and brought home and unloaded about 1500 pounds of stones from my car. We have more stone plans :)

Anyway, I love this little path between the shade garden and the Japanese maples. Its not really as long as it looks in the picture. MLG uses a level and works hard at making the uneven, rocky ground work so the water will drain the right way.

From one direction:


And from the other direction:


After yesterday’s rain (yay!) Sophie and Bess found something extremely interesting smelling out there.


Then Bess got bored with it.


The shade garden. Pretty soon there will be some color in there.


Noah and his never-ending quest for THE LIZARDS.


Here’s a new plant I got. The foliage is really almost white. Its called Abutilon Savitzii. Its related to that Japanese lantern plant that I have.


And now for some color! I love the delicacy of the poppies.


And the brilliant color of these pansies:


These volunteer nasturtiums are already doing so much better than the ones I planted last year.


And these sweet little clover flowers come back every year. I love how they are peeping through the teacup.


These little begonias came back better than last year!


A new perennial flower I got (sorry, lost the label, don’t know the name.)


Another new plant to fill in an empty spot. This is a Lavitera. Its quite a rangy bush, but I love the flowers.


This cracks me up. Can you see that the star jasmine has vined itself up the peacock, and has provided a fancy headdress for it?


Here, you can see it better in this picture. This was the star jasmine that was thrown on the trash heap a couple of years ago. It is doing wonderfully this year.


And I was trying for one last shot, and Noah photo-bombed it!


Here you go. I hope all of you have a wonderful, peace-filled weekend!



In The Garden

I just happened to look out the window right when this guy was taking a bath. And he stayed just long enough for me to grab my camera and get ONE picture.


The foxglove have done wonderfully in the ground. They never were very happy when I tried to grow them in containers. An added plus–they self-seed! I have baby foxgloves growing that will give me new blooms next year.




Again, I never had any luck with snapdragons in the past. I think the big advantage was planting them in the late summer/early fall. And maybe having a mild winter helped?


I got a 6 pack of columbine in the fall and planted them around the garden. They are all different colors, and very pretty, I think.


I planted this honeysuckle vine last year. It ALMOST gave up when it was completely over-run by the tomato forest! So I am extra happy to see it come back and do so well. I don’t think it smells as nice as the white honeysuckle, so I might have to find a place to grow one of them. I had one outside the front window for years, and the delicate smell would waft in the window in the evening. But that one had to go with all the work that was done on the house.




Carnations are my favorite cut flower. I love their smell. Its so fresh, and is not as strong and overwhelming as some flowers can be. This is the second year for this plant, and I was happy to see it doing so well. It does kind of sprawl. I wonder if that is the nature of carnations. Do I need to make them a little corral?


We (haha, I point, and MLG does the work) are doing more rock work and pavers. I am wondering if I am getting carried away with the stones. I am going to do some research this week.

And that’s this week in the garden.