Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas Week

My mom subtly hinted that she's hoping for a Christmas post...  Shall we start with homemade marshmallows?  My husband makes them for his mom.









Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
On a day when we remember all the things we are thankful for, I am very blessed.  Among other things, thank you, all of you friends who read my blog!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy November

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I appreciate your thoughts and comments, friends.  I know my angst-riddled ramblings sometimes make no sense; I try not to post them here but now and then they spill over.  I am never going to be done taking pictures.  I'm looking forward to many more artful and spontaneous creations, both with a camera and without.  And enjoying the freedom to be inspired by a pile of leaves and four handsome faces!  


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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

. . .

For me, there is no harmony in the concept that a person should "do what you love," in regards to a job.  Of course, I do want to do what I love, and I want to help provide for my family.  But I've found that I have a hard time acquiring this balance, when what I love and what I do is art.  

This video changed the way I feel about my art.  Or rather, it put me back on track of things I have always known about myself, and had forgotten in recent years.  It is hard to be in a world where people judge you by how much you make.  I find that, as an artist, people judge me by what I charge.  I guess that gives some validity to whether I'm worthwhile at my craft if I can prove that other people agree enough to pay me for it. When I don't charge people for my work they are more dismissive; when I worry about what people think, I sometimes end up with things that I don't love.  And I know I don't charge enough, but I really want art - especially something like a portrait of someone's own children, to be something that is accessible to everyone.  But I'm getting to a point where there just is no way for my heart and my artistic integrity to work with this system.  What am I going to do?  I think I'm going to quit.

I will never quit being an artist, and as much as I've tried to break up with my camera, I can't.  Not even when it's dirty or misbehaving.  It's partly because I have children, and I love taking pictures of them.  They're precious, you know?

Someone accused me at the beginning of the year of needing my knitting designs to be artful.  As in, poor me, I had to have some originality and point.  I had to laugh, and I wanted to scream.  I guess that's why I have one or two patterns every couple of months, whereas she's well paid.  

Anyway.  I'm not done being an artist because, well, I am an artist.  I've finally figured out that it doesn't have to be for anyone else.      

  113 in 2013:  sun flare
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sweet Autumn

Sweet Autumn clematis
my Sweet Autumn clematis

Well, I didn't finish all I set out to do this summer, but I did accomplish some things that I've been meaning to do for a long time and just hadn't plucked up the courage to attempt before.  For instance, finally taking a family trip, and reupholstering a chair!  I had a really hard time committing to fabric, finding something that would match what I've got and what I'm hoping to do in my living room.  I have a few more things I would like to do before fall really sets in; we'll see!

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Here's a before shot, poor old girl:  




Saturday, September 14, 2013

flooding in Colorado

A few friends have written to ask if we are okay, in regards to the flooding in Colorado.  At the moment, everyone I know and love is fine and safe.  We are expecting more rain today, though!  Lots of games and outdoor activities have been cancelled, and there are road closures.  Some of our teachers could not get to school yesterday.  

I tried to upload some pictures to Flickr but apparently Flickr's having some issues.  I'll just upload a couple to here.  This is our nearby creek.  Nearby as in we can walk to it, but it's still a few blocks away.  In the first one, the creek is usually the part of the water that is beyond the big tree on the right.  



Here's a bridge the boys like to ride their bikes across!

But like I said, we're all safe!!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Funeral Pictures?

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I always take my camera to funerals.  When they see me with my camera, I think it seems disrespectful or morbid to some people; but a few days later I get a phone call or card from someone who really appreciated the pictures and would like copies.  They weren't able to make it and are happy to see the goodbyes of a dear friend.  Or they were there, and are glad I captured these moments.  

My grandmother had a big family, and funerals were often the last time she'd seen everyone together, and she always came back with a stack of pictures; I grew up thinking that cameras and funerals were as natural together as a camera at any other event.  (As part of my dad's service to our country, he served a few summer tours at Arlington Cemetery, officiating at memorial services for men and women who've served our country.  Someone videotaped one of his services for the family and gave him a copy.  Talk about moving!  Read about the Arlington Ladies; just thinking about this makes me well up with emotion.)

Death is a part of life; even though it is a sad part, there are many beautiful moments in remembering a well-lived life.  Here are some of my favorite shots from funerals...


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's Patriot Day


It's pouring rain here so we didn't put our flag out, but there's a flag in my heart.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

eggs

A new friend mentioned that she had a bunch of chickens, and more eggs than they could use.  I jokingly (?) said I would gladly take them.  I have a kid that would eat scrambled eggs every day of the week if we made them.  So she invited me to stop by and get some, and she wasn't kidding.  I left with eggs by the two dozen, and that barely dented the collection in the fridge!  Of course, I was as excited about the pictures I could take with these lovely little gems as I was at the prospect of fresh, free range, free eggs!!  And as I was contemplating photo ideas, I remembered that I had recently found an abandoned nest on the ground.  (There are also brown and beige eggs.)  


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Saturday, August 24, 2013

greens from the garden

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I went to my local local grocer's to buy local cucumbers.  Of course, we canned them!  I find that pickles are one of the easiest things to put up, although the vinegar smell does linger in the house.  This is my most requested canned good item, from friends and husband, and BFJ opened the last jar of last year's pickles a week or two ago.  I don't want to have a disappointed spouse for the next year so I stopped and got some cucumbers.  I actually planted what I thought would be a bed of cucumbers, but it turns out that only two or three of the plants are actually producing cucumbers, while another two are producing what appear to be mutant pumpkin hybrids.  And I'm not sure what happened to the rest of the plants I thought I had.  Sad.  The lemon cucs are doing better but are in the corners of the other beds.

The jalapenos and other peppers and goodies did come from my garden, though, and I did make a couple small jars of home-grown stuff.  I'm not sure how the lemon cucumbers will serve (bet you can tell which one that is!)  My mother-in-law brought a jar's worth of cucumbers last week, as well.  

We had pesto and grilled chicken last night - a family favorite, yum, yum.  It goes fast!  

Shown:  basil pesto, dill, tomatillo, two zucchinis, lemon cucumber, three jalapenos, two pablano peppers, and one runty cucumber from the garden.  Even runty, the homegrown cucumbers are delicious!   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spiced Peach Preserves

I have a friend who received some Spiced Peach Preserves from me last year, and she inquired recently whether I'd be making more this year.  I answered that I was not sure, as it is hard to can with store-bought fruit after you've received organic, homegrown, best-you-ever-tasted peaches.  Obviously I would love some more of those peaches, but unfortunately my in-laws' peach tree was hit hard with a late frost this past spring, as were many fruit trees in Colorado.  My local farmer's market had some lovely peaches on a day when I didn't have time to can, and assured me that they'd have more the next week.  They didn't!  So previously mentioned friend asked her brother to pick up a box on his way through Palisades last week, and she gave them to us in exchange for some finished jars, and a little lesson in canning.  Isn't that nice?

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I decided to blog the recipe so that you can use it, and I can find it here again! 


Spiced Peach Preserves
Recipe adapted from Sweet Preservations, original recipe here
  • 10 cups peaches
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested
  1. Sterilize canning jars. Combine peaches, sugar, spices and lemon juice & zest and slowly bring to boiling, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook rapidly until thick, about 15 to 25 minutes; stir frequently to prevent sticking.
  3. Pour hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 10 minutes (high altitude) in a boiling water bath.
  4. Allow jars to sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours before moving them.
Yields roughly 16 - 4 oz jars, or 8 half-pint (8 oz) jars
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

in Minnesota

I should finish up my story about our trip to Minnesota, right?

Friday
We arrived at Camp Friday afternoon.  A few other people were there, and we went in and said hi, and figured out where we should park. But before anything else, the boys and I headed right down the path to the lake!  There were a couple of cousins I knew, along with one of their kids.  Before you know it, shoes were off, boys were out on the dock, feet were in the water.

As more people arrived, we had a fun time meeting everyone and figuring out how we were related.  The evening was hot and humid, and there were definitely lots of mosquitoes.  I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have two days of misery ahead of us!  Eventually, the boys ended up in the lake, shorts and all, and had a great time with new cousins.  Really, that's what we came for, so mission accomplished.  

a path off the path... where does it go?
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We slept in bunks, and it was not the most comfortable arrangement - for one thing, we did not bring the best bedding; but a few hours of swimming makes a boy sleep well, and everyone bunked in and did fine.  

Saturday
BFJ and some of the boys went down to the lake early in the morning, and scared up some loons who gracefully skimmed off into the fog. The first thing I did on Saturday was get dressed and take an early walk through the forest with BFJ. Every step smelled like Christmas trees, fresh and piney.  We spotted lots of interesting fungus and I was thrilled to find not one, but three, beautiful spiderwebs, with great backgrounds and beautiful lighting.  What more can a photographer ask for?

bracket fungus and lichen
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spiderweb... you probably knew that
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We went to breakfast and then right down to the lake.  We spent several hours there, wading, swimming, canoeing, boating...  Pretty much, we spent the day on the lake.  BFJ and I attempted a four-person canoe ride which threatened to dump us all in the water, and was short-lived.  Then, my dad gave me a canoe lesson and we went around a small island - you can actually see it in this photo of some of the kids jumping off the dock!

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We all got rides on the speed boats, supplied by Cousin Greg and Cousin Darrell, and four of us got rides on the inner tube things pulled behind the boats.  My parents even tried it, and they also had a canoe ride.  We ended the day with a luau with 90-ish relatives, and a white elephant gift exchange which was fun, but I think we'll all remember the water most!

Sunday
A rainy morning was highlighted by a pair of bald eagles that sat in the dead tree just outside the mess hall.  I think just about everyone spent a few minutes getting wet for a good long observation of the beautiful birds.  We had a family church service with a musical special from Cousin Heather's family and a lesson by my dad.   The rain continued through the afternoon, and made pictures difficult, but we did get a family picture of each branch of the family.  We spent a little more time visiting, and had lunch.

Eventually, the seven of us (we five and my parents) packed up and headed to Duluth.  We stopped in to our hotel and unloaded, then went to Canal Park on the west side of Lake Superior.  We really enjoyed the water, the beach, and the atmosphere in general.  We took a ride on a seven-passenger surrey-type bike, powered by four of us on pedals.  Interesting, to say the least!  We went out to a small lighthouse on the seven-person vehicle, then had some dinner overlooking the lake, and best of all, if you ask BFJ, we watched a large ship pass through the channel, under the Aerial Lift Bridge!  

We stopped at a souvenir shop where my dad had a t-shirt made, and the boys acquired slingshots.  And we made it back to our hotel room in time to enjoy the hotel swimming pool before bed.

Lake Superior
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ship in the channel
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Monday
The next morning, we packed up for the drive back to Lincoln, but first, we stopped at Brighton Beach.  Luckily we had three handy slingshots, and enjoyed skipping rocks and shooting rocks into the water.  Low-hanging clouds made it difficult to see much out on the water, but a few yachts passed by.  It was a beautiful morning, and made for some memorable pictures.

Brighton Beach 
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With a short stop at the Mall of America, we made it to Lincoln and halfway home.  On Tuesday, we enjoyed a fairly uneventful trip back to Colorado.  And there you are, our weekend in Minnesota!  For a quick little trip to a family reunion, we really enjoyed ourselves.  You can see my whole set of pictures here, including more spiderwebs, more fungus, more rocks, more water.

Best moments:  knitting with my mom in the car - well, she was crocheting, running into a deer in the forest with Zoom, canoeing with my dad, and walking through a mysterious forest with my best friend.  And watching my kids play in a lake with their cousins.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

back yard

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A garden

with bees IMG_5535

and pumpkins
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and birds! IMG_5550

And of course, some knitting.
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

#1 knit a Christmas gift, and more

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It feels a little like cheating to call this #1 on my list, because this is not the project I had in mind when I made my list.  However, the summer is zipping by and technically, it is going to be a Christmas gift.  I need to knit a few more so that I have one to keep, and can bear to give the rest away!  The best part is that it pings at least three things I love - knitting, gardening, and savoring the small wonders in life.  

Every year I ponder cutting my lavender so that I can use it for something, but I think, I'll do it after I get a picture that does justice to the lavender plants.  And then I leave it for the bees.  And then... it is past its cutting prime.  This year, I did not hesitate, because I'd found this cute little sachet pattern and I knew it would be lovely to dry some lavender.  I also have bits of vanilla bean that weren't quite fine enough for the vanilla sugar, and when I remember where I put them, I think that will also make a lovely sachet.    

At some point in my relationship with Dianne at Windy Valley, she gave me some remnants of various yarns in her shop.  I've had them in a bag for months, and it was a perfect little marriage of yarn and pattern.  I tell you, this is a very indulgent little gift!  I've got a whole bag of bits that will work for this, and I think they will make special little gifts, not unlike a loaf of pumpkin bread, or a little jar of jam.    

Speaking of jam, I've also recently made some lovely-looking jam.  I don't know if I should tell you this, but BFJ tried it said plainly, and I quote, "I would not eat this."  Note to self: cute little onions are not the same as shallots!   Oops.  Well, he saved it from ending up in your stocking, and you having to smile and pretend it was delicious.  

2653 savory blueberry jam

Other items accomplished on the list:
#5.  Finish a book. - My dad recommended a murder mystery, and it was a very enjoyable summer read.

#9.  Take some beautiful portraits of my kids. - The boys and I went out a couple of days before July 4th and got some great portraits of them.  I haven't gotten them printed out yet; should add that to the list.

#3 (paint the basement) is partially done.  Still some work to do, there.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

to Minnesota

So!  Here's what we've been up to... 

At some point in the past six months, my great aunt Ginnie (inadvertently?) included me on an email about the semi-annual family reunion in Minnesota.  I say inadvertently because I've never gone and there was no reason for her to include me but I assume I'm on her family distribution list.  Regardless, an idea was planted, but I was so unsure of whether we would actually get to Minnesota that I did not put it on my 10-things-to-do-this-summer list, although I really wanted to put Family Vacation as #1!  See, we've actually never been on a family vacation, and I didn't know if we'd be able to squeak it out.  Can you believe that?  I know, it's sad.  We've been on lots of trips to see family for holidays, but only a few hours here or there, and definitely not a vacation, the whole five of us.  Well, things have changed, I'm happy to say!

What did we do? you may wonder.
On Wednesday night, we drove to Nana and Grandpa's, loaded up the minivan they'd rented, and spent the night.  

on the drive to Nana and Grandpa's...
0733 on the way to SH

Early Thursday, we got up, and made sure we had everything we needed, and drove to eastern Nebraska, where our favorite big cousins live.  We got to see them, and tour their house.  And catch fireflies!  And while I took a hundred pictures of fireflies, they did not cooperate - they didn't blink when I clicked, and when they did you couldn't see it.  Here's something you might not know: fireflies don't live in Colorado.  The only time I have ever seen a firefly in Colorado was one time when our favorite big cousins drove out here from Nebraska with a jar of them.  And by the time they got here, there was just one still alive.  So although fireflies were on the very tippy-top of my list to get pictures of, I didn't.  

On Friday, we got up early.  Early.  And drove to Minnesota, the Northwoods.  Of course, we stopped many places along the way; with seven people of various ages in the car, we had to make a lot of bathroom stops and a lot of lunch, snacks and drinks stops.  Luckily, no one got carsick, although we'd anticipated one person might.  The boys watched a movie or two on Nana's laptop, and also had brought some gaming devices.  You know I had my vacation knitting - four different projects, and managed a few naps.  My mom worked on a special crochet project, and the men manned - ha - the driving and maps.  Along the way, we heard lots of stories of days gone by, where my parents had grown up and things they did, and memories of these many strange and foreign cousins we would meet.  My dad figures that the last time he went to this reunion, he was 12!  We enjoyed the miles and miles of green corn growing in Iowa, and I finally got a chance to prove to BFJ that Nebraska is really charming.  BFJ and I, at least, were amazed at all the wind farms in Iowa.  

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Oh dear, I've run out of time and am headed to my LYS today.  I'll have to tell you about our adventures in Minnesota next time!   

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

things to tell you...

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We have just returned home from a little adventure into strange lands and dark forests....  More soon!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

#2. Make some macarons.

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Hey, technically we're only three days into summer, aren't we?  From my "10 things to do this summer" list, I'm pleased to say, I can cross something off!  That is, #2. Make some macarons.  

I used the recipe at Brave Tart, and read the referenced blog post at eatlivetravelwrite, and made some macarons!  I did not find that they were difficult, I think primarily due to the fact that I've made meringue before.  I made my own "almond meal" by grinding up almonds very finely in the food processor, but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter - including weighing the ingredients!  I didn't end up with the elegant foot that the cookies are supposed to have, they definitely aren't perfect.  However, I do see there are some things that could be done slightly better next time:

~ Next time, look into finding some actual almond meal.  Or if not, investigate blanching, and grinding a little more thoroughly.
~ I would indeed beat the meringue batter just a pinch longer.  If I hadn't been in such a hurry to get to the end product, I would have realized it was not quite ready.
~ It's time to buy some real pastry bags.
~ I would not go round and round with the batter to make the cookies.  On my third sheet, I just started in the middle and blobbed up a bunch of batter, and those are the ones that looked the best.

I filled them with my standard chocolate buttercream recipe, as the Brave Tart had recommended not doing anything fancy with flavors the first time out.  By fall, perhaps I'll have some lavender macarons under my belt.  In the end what matters is that I have a nice picture, right? wink-wink
How are you doing are your summer projects?


Thursday, June 20, 2013

SO true.

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend stopped by and made me realize that the life I have is really wonderful.  But sometimes it is hard to remember, so I'm posting this little note to myself. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

You don't have to tell ME twice!

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I'm watching the cats for my neighbors, and they left a note saying to help myself to the flowers, especially the peonies.  Yes please!  I cut every one that was blooming.  Hey, they'll be dead by the time the neighbors return, anyway.  Smells like... mothers and grandmothers, and being loved.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

10 Things This Summer

I made a list of ten things I want to do this summer; reasonable things that are within my control, although perhaps somewhat ambitious.  Should I shoot for 10%?  Nah, I'm shooting for all ten.  At the very least, maybe 7 or 8.  Of course, besides these I'm still working on my garden - though putting that in the list would be cheating.  We all know that's a success, right?  We've eaten herbs out of it so yeah, that's already success.  And I'm working on my "113 in 2013" photo list, which I probably haven't posted about.  Will I get all 113?  I'm working on it, but it can't be done by the end of summer.  Here's my latest find, #52 cobweb.  (I'm not going in order.)

113in2013 #52 cobweb

Anyway, back to my 10 Things This Summer list:

1.  Knit a Christmas gift. 
This might seem like an easy task for me.  It would be, it's just that so many other projects seem so much more urgent.  But that's exactly the opposite of what I want - urgency.  I want to savor the knitting and know there's no rush, and that I have time to do it right, should there be reason to take out any mistakes.  And yes, I do have a project in mind.  No, I can't tell you about it, it's a Christmas present, for goodness sake!

2.  Make some macarons.
The french ones, not the coconut ones.  Why?  I don't know.  Somewhere I saw them, and I just love their little pastel colors and fancy fillings.  If I had almond flour in my pantry, I would be making them tomorrow.  But I don't.  

3.  Paint my basement.
Or even part of the basement.  Because now's the time to enjoy the cool basement, when it's hot outside.  When it's cold outside, no one wants to be in the basement.  And it would be so nice to draw or read down there if it weren't all dark brown paneling.  So now's the time. 

4.  Make shirts with my kids. 
I have a looooong list of project instructions, of all kinds of things I'd like to try and see how I like it, and I just don't make the time.  Everything from sewing a pincushion to building furniture.  And on that list are a couple different t-shirt embellishing projects, and I know my creative kids would love that.  I'd like to say that my list of ten things is to try ten things off that list, but for now, I think a shirt will do. 

5.  Finish a book.
Can't remember the last time I read more than one book in four months.

6.  Knit myself something fabulous in qiviut.
Working for Windy Valley yarns for the past couple of years, I have built up a little bit of a lovely yarn stash with qiviut, and I go to these knitting conventions and have nothing to show for it.  So maybe next time...  

7.  Explore something new in Colorado.
The boys and I are doing a little bit of reading about Colorado, and there are many places we could go without much effort, time or money.  

8.  Hike up to the Hanging Lake.
I dread this because I'm more of the sit-and-weed, sit-and-read, stand-and-stir, sit-and-knit sort of person, but I know it would be so worth it.  I've been there before, without a great camera.  I should definitely do it with a great camera.  

9.  Take some beautiful portraits of my kids.
Apparently I haven't done that in three years, and they are the most gorgeous boys you ever saw.  There definitely should be more pictures of them.  And some of them should be up on my wall.  

10.  Make a quilt for the Cutest Baby in the World.
My sister told me when she was pregnant that she was really looking forward to the quilt I'd make for her baby.  I made a quilt for each of my kids, and each of my brother's kids, and actually, each of my brother-in-law's kids.  But I don't really do quilting so much anymore, so the CBW is going on two years without a quilt.  Time to remedy that... hopefully.

Well, what are you going to do this summer??

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So, funny story for you.  The Bruise is bemoaning the chicken stir-fry that I'm making for dinner, and wishing we'd have something besides all this chicken.  "What do you mean?" I ask.  "Like last night's dinner," he says.  Last night's dinner was pork chops on the grill, so I'm a little confused.  I point this out, that it was pork chops.  He looks at me with that, Exactly! sort of face.  So I ask what he would like instead of all this chicken.  He says,  "Chicken enchiladas.  You know, because they don't taste like chicken."  Go figure.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Garden Update - Early June 2013

At the moment, we've got lots of herbs, some flowers, and the beginnings of future fruits and veggies.
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I'm very pleased to see that my Red Hobbit is back after a two-year absence.  I wonder if it got mowed over, or perhaps it just needed a break.


IMG_5178My first clematis (Niobe) looks the best it ever has, though it has never filled out like my mother-in-law's.

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My peonies look like they'll finally fill a vase this year!
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Equally wonderful in food as it is fragrant to brush past, buying a second lemon thyme was a good idea!  
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And we have blossoms on several plants.


I'm hoping to squeeze a potato plant in somewhere.  We may also do a second planting of some items that don't seem to have taken / are recommended to plant again / the cat dug up.

I was wondering why nothing was growing in the center of the left-most bed, and then it hit me.  I didn't plant anything there!  One last trip to the local nursery and we have our first ever tomatillo and a roma tomato.  

Yesterday, I made a watermelon salsa (so much better than it sounds!) and used basil and mint from the garden.  Maybe the next time it'll include our home-grown peppers, cucumbers and onions.  I'll let you know!