The Other Dog Days of Summer

Sophie pointed out to me that I had misrepresented the Dog Days of Summer. “imagine, if you will, the nerve of her doing a post and misabusing ourselves and then not even a mention of us, except in the most exculpatory and unflattering way possible.” (said in the high squeaky voice of a little dog who does like to put on airs.)

So here, then, is a photo essay on “the other dog days of summer.”

There’s something over there.

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When Chloe is excited (which is a majority of the time) she has to grab her bone for a chew.

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Whaaaat??? Don’t you know the sun is in my eyes?

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There’s SOMETHING over there.

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Sophie caught chewing on a plant that USED to have pink blossoms.

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Really. There’s SOMETHING over there. Why don’t you believe me?

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All four girls got a bath today. Doing my best to stave off the dog days of summer🙂

 

The Dog Days of Summer

This is the time when, for me, I just have to muscle through and keep taking care of the garden. There is not the huge reward of the springtime blooms. But the plants still need water, more than ever. I am looking forward to fall color from the Japanese Maples, so that is a motivating factor, and I’m babying along a few plants that will reward me with blooms next spring. I still buy a few plants at the nursery to motivate myself, and also to fill in some empty spots and add a bit more color to the garden.

Most of my flowering bushes are huge, and I’m letting them go for now, hoping for a big springtime show, and then I WILL PRUNE them. In the meantime, I keep reading up on the best ways to prune the various plants. MLG has been over, and has helped transplant a few plants, trying to find just the right spot for each of them.

Here’s the scene this week.

The phlox are really huge and tall this year. I cut back the rose of sharon after its first bloom, and it has continued to send out a few buds. I like that geranium that I put in the ground, so I will do that next year (usually I put them in pots.) And I like the salvia, but this year there wasn’t much of it that came back, so I will have to buy another little six-pack.

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Best buy this summer: a big $2.50 investment of a six pack of these zinnias. They grew like crazy, and have filled in the area behind the carnation patch.

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So I got another zinnia, a little bigger variety.

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And then I found a GIANT zinnia this week🙂

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These gaillardia have done much better this year. Funny what a little water can do for a plant🙂

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This is the stupidest rose bush. Can you see that huge long stem, going all the way up into the oak tree??? This is the kind of thing that makes me want to replace plants. I am thinking about replacing several of my roses. If you’re going to spend the time and effort to care for roses, I think they should be really nice roses, don’t you?

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Here’s the top of that rose, blooming up in the oak branches.

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I really like this hydrangea, but it does this every year. The branches don’t seem to be strong enough to support the big flower heads, and so they all bow down like this. I’m going to do some research to see what I can do to encourage stronger stems. Otherwise, I LOVE this hydrangea, and I really love that it blooms in August and looks so nice.

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I transplanted this liriope. I really like them, and I have several of them. This one is the only one that is blooming. Boo…

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I like this little pink vine, and the new marigolds seem to have taken hold.

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Here. This is what a lot of the garden looks like. Kind of sad and messy. Those purple penstemon just kind of fall over on the ground, and the other firecracker blooms are so rangy. Oh, but you know what? This is where I planted the cleome seeds that Lori sent me, and I THINK that one of them might be growing. Also, it looks like there is a healthy lupine growing, and so maybe that came from Lori in with the cleome seeds. I asked at the local nursery about cleome, and she said that they just aren’t available out here, but that she had other customers from the east coast that also inquired about them. Interesting, don’t you think?

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This double impatiens is so pretty, but this is what it always looks like. I think its just too hot for an impatien to be happy. If I move it further into the shade, it doesn’t bloom at all.

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Also, I think its called the dog days of summer because this is the time everything is so dry, and the dogs bring bits of the outdoors inside every time they come in and out…its a conundrum–do I clean, or do I water?

A Special Dinner for One

I was feeling like I needed to treat myself. I was in the pool, doing an extra long workout, and thinking about all my options. Going out or eating at home? Home is always a better choice, calorie-wise. But could I make it special?

And here’s what I came up with! So fun, and SOOOO delicious. That’s a turkey burger on top of a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. What can I say? I like a bite of tomato with each bite of burger! And one small sweet potato, cut into fries and baked. And a strawberry shake–the best! Just a cup of frozen strawberries, mixed together with half a cup of yogurt and half a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze. Now that was a good deal–about 135 calories for that delicious shake!

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What Does a Garden Cost?

I guess that’s the wrong question. Because you can spend as little or as much as you want on a garden. What did MY garden cost? I never kept track of it. I fooled myself by just spending a little at a time. Most of the time when I went to pick up rocks, the most my car could carry is one or two hundred dollars worth of rocks. And then the next time MLG came over, I would pay him to put those rocks in place. Or we would get a load of wood from Lowe’s and then he would build the planters in a couple of sessions. Sometimes he brought over free stuff, like the railroad ties, to use in the garden. Before I found MLG, I would stop at Home Depot on my way home from work, and get six or eight stones. And then put them in place myself. Those are still there! If I had hired a garden contractor, and gotten an estimate on the cost of all the work we have done, I don’t think I would ever have done it. But doing it bit by bit, the cost didn’t seem so bad.

Of course, the plants… plants are a good deal, if you ask me. Six dollars can bring a lot of enjoyment, and if you choose carefully, and take care of it just right, and all the stars align just so, that six dollar plant can bring you years of enjoyment!

These first two pictures are kind of what I see when I drive up to my house. I mostly can’t believe that I have such a wonderful garden.

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And here’s the walk-around for this week. Here is the bee balm in its THIRD location. Here’s hoping it will be happy here.

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This is one of those tiny roses that they sell in two inch pots. How about that–it lived!

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Petunias.

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I think I was going for a red, white, and blue theme here. But something ate the white marigolds. And I planted a pink plant in the back…

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Oh. This is what I have to do to keep Noah from TRAMPLING these poor plants when he insists on chasing cars.

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The new honeysuckle gets the gold star for growing the most in the first season!

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Lobelia border.

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Lace cap hydrangea.

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New flower! I think a pincushion plant? Its supposed to be frost hardy. I really like it, and its a tall plant, which is what I needed.

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All the oriental lilies are starting to bloom!

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I planted a row of zinnias behind the carnation patch.

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A view of the mostly sun bed. LOL. Hoses are everywhere and always out. I have nice carts to wind them on, but what’s the point? I will have to unwind them tomorrow.

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The volunteer nasturtium. Its doing quite well this year.

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And so ends the garden tour for this week. Noah says, won’t you come back again?

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A Weekend of Garden Fun

I took a trip to the Bay Area this weekend to do some Mom-chores. But I managed to fit in several nursery visits, where I got my fill of some great bedding plants, and even got a few seeds to try! I didn’t take any pictures at the nurseries, but they are both worth a mention, in case you are ever in the area. First up was one I have mentioned before–Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore.

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One of the features of Alden Lane Nursery is the huge oaks throughout the nursery.

And the next one was new to me, Half Moon Bay Nursery. Half Moon Bay has a lot of nurseries, but for some reason we have always missed this one. It is huge, with a great variety of plants, and I also appreciated all the signs telling about the plants. I also thought their prices were quite reasonable.

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Half Moon Bay Nursery was so large that we only saw a small part of it. We are looking forward to our next visit!

When we are in Half Moon Bay, we always stop at this orchid nursery. It is immense, and is just overwhelming to see all the different varieties of orchids that are available. Most of them are quite reasonably priced.

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I arrived home with all my little plants, and did a quick yard inspection with the dogs, and was happy to see some new plants in bloom!

The flowering almond looks better than it ever has:

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Some pretty daffodils:

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And the tulips have made it through another year. I was afraid we had put those brick pavers right on top of them!

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Little Zoey needed a bath as soon as I got home.

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Rain is predicted through tomorrow night, so I am planning to spend some time in the garden on Tuesday, weeding and planting my little treasures🙂

Feeding Time at the Zoo

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Okay, here’s a weird topic. Who knows, maybe there will be someone out there in the world besides myself who is interested in it…

I’ve been thinking for a LONG time about how I mostly eat unprocessed food because I believe it is healthier. But I feed my dogs processed food every day of their lives. Think about it. Is there anything more processed than dog food? This fact, combined with the extremely high price tag of the elite dog foods, and my mistrust of their ingredients, all factored into my adventures in making dog food!

So I scoped out the web, and most of the information was from companies trying to sell you supplements in case you missed some of the VERY IMPORTANT micro ingredients that your dog might miss in that processed food. The other information seemed to be from people who were just kind of guessing at what dogs need. So, gleaning information from here and there, and then looking at what was in some of those high priced dog foods, I set out to make my own. Here’s what I was doing a few weeks ago. I was heading towards completely eliminating the processed food. In this batch, I actually put some of the processed dog food, so I wouldn’t have to do anything but scoop it out at feeding time.

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My grocery store sells 10 pound bags of chicken thighs/legs very reasonably. I bring it home from the store and they go directly into a pot with some water, and simmer them for an hour and a half. Take them out, cool them off, and the meat practically falls off the bones. I am very careful to keep all the bones out of what I feed them. One time I checked, and the meat I actually got to use was 7 pounds, which made that meat 82 cents per pound. The same store also has yams very reasonably priced, and since a lot of the dog foods are ____meat and sweet potatoes, I figured that was a good addition as well. I noticed that most of the better foods also included peas, so I grabbed a bag of frozen peas. Of course, rice is used in some foods, so I added that, and I always feed my dogs carrots. Oh, and I had some apples I didn’t particularly like, so those got added in as well. They LOVE the apples.

After the chicken cooks, I use the leftover liquid, which has quite a bit of fat, and I cooked the rice and the yams in that. I put all of the liquid in the dog food.

You can see that that was a LOT of dog food up there. And that only lasted a week. I froze most of it, to keep it fresh, but that takes a lot of freezer space.

I don’t know how much longer my adventures in dog food making will continue, but since then I have adjusted what I do quite a bit. I decided to go with a mix of half homemade and half processed food (just in case there really are some VERY IMPORTANT INGREDIENTS in that processed dog food.) And I eliminated the peas after I noticed that they went straight through the dogs… The rice was only a filler, so there was no need to cook that. This week I added one beet, because I noticed that beets were also included in some of the higher priced foods.

I think a lot about how dogs in the wild would eat. Of course they would not cook their food. But I am just not willing to go the raw diet route. I don’t think they would be eating a ton of grain or vegetable material. Which made me think about how they would never have to brush their teeth or have a dental cleaning done in the wild. So the chicken is what I am mainly adding, along with some yams, carrots, and the beet. Of course there are other meats I could add, but the chicken is the most economic choice. This week I added up what I purchased for their homemade food, and it was $8. I’m pretty sure I’m not saving any money over the cost of the premium foods. But I feel like maybe its a little better for them. BTW, I don’t feed junk processed dog food. Right now I am using Diamond Naturals food or the Costco brand food. Both are grain free, since I have sensitive little doggies who seem to be allergic to a lot of things.

Anybody else out there making their own dog food??

As much as Chloe chews on bones, I am hopeful that she will never have a problem with her teeth!

As much as Chloe chews on bones, I am hopeful that she will never have a problem with her teeth!

A New Room and A Clean Dog

J. the Contractor came back last week to finish up a bunch of things. He put the fascia boards on both rooflines. For the longest time, this little shed remained the old red  of the cabin, because there was no point in painting it, since the siding needed to be replaced. Its so nice to see it now, when I walk up the road.

That’s the old window from the dining room that we saved to put here, on the “wet studio.” It will provide lots of light and good ventilation when I am working in there. BTW, its called a wet studio, because that is where I will do all my dying and any other messy creating I need to do. You can see the kitchen door there, and the small deck. So I can just go out the kitchen door and down the stairs to this room.

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Because of the roofline, the door was not a regular size. So J. the Contractor built a door! And he used the glass and the door knob from the old door!

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Here is the (almost) finished room. I got the same light fixture that I have used in the studio and my laundry room. I love how bright the light is–its LED lighting. J. used wood that he milled himself from local pines for all the shelving and the walls and ceiling. I love the coloring of it, so I’m leaving it natural for now. There’s so much storage now– I’m sure eventually I will use it all. The back counter is about two feet deep, and that side counter is just one foot deep, but J. thought of making it the right height for me to eat, in case I wanted to eat while I was working out there. I sanded those two surfaces and coated them with polyurethane. I also ordered three anti-fatigue mats for the floor.

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The only thing that’s not done is the backsplash. Somehow, when we did the house, we ended up with three boxes of white subway tile. So I saved that, and J. will be back in a couple of weeks to do the backsplash. There is a nice laundry tub (J. did something or other to finally fix the water pressure problem) and a full size stove! I talked to J. about getting a used stove, and it just so happened that he wanted to get himself a gas stove, so he was willing to sell me his old electric stove very reasonably. When you dye wool, it needs to be heated for the dye to set, so that is why I wanted a stove out there. You can see the small granite top between the two. That is from where they cut out the piece for the sink in the kitchen. J. had the tools to cut it just the right size for that small counter. And of course the bigger piece of leftover countertop is on the other side of the stove.

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I had this idea, to make narrow shelves near the door opening, and have the shelves closer together so I could use it for all my dye jars! This is the coolest thing. so much nicer than any other place I’ve had for my dyes.

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And since the water pressure was finally fixed, and we were still having days with high’s in the 70’s, I had no more excuses to avoid washing Noah. The laundry tub faucet is adapted so you can just attach a regular garden hose to it, so I can wash him with warm water. After we were all done, he had a photo shoot. There is a “pet” setting on my camera, and I usually forget about it. But it is really cool–takes the picture at the lightest touch immediately, and somehow focuses as quickly.

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Its so nice to have all this work done. Now we’re in for a week of storms, but as soon as the weather clears up, I hope to be out playing with my dyes in my new wet studio. I am one lucky girl.