Friday, March 30, 2007

The Weather is Not Cooperating

It's too cold and rainy to work outside.

Luckily I had a back up plan.

I figured out my next border for the cardinal quilt. This is the 4.5 inch block I will use.

I needed something nice and simple so it won't look too busy. I think this one will work just fine.
I need to make 80 of these.

Yes, that is 8 - 0. Eighty. This is only 11.

This is what the border will look like when I sew them together.

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So, if nothing else, I will at least get some sewing done this weekend.

I was thinking of gettng out the Easter decorations, but I decided to forget about them this year. We are going out for brunch on Easter with my inlaws so I see no need to decorate. It's way too much work to do for only a week anyway. I usually do it about 4-6 weeks ahead so I can enjoy it. This year time just went by too fast!

It's been three days and still no skunk (or anything else) on the camera. I guess nothing is living under the shed.

Anybody doing anything exciting this weekend?

I Hope It's Outdoor Working Weather This Weekend

Because I've sure got a lot of work to do!

Just look at all of these areas. In addition to the other two I showed earlier, there's about 6 areas that I did not even photograph.
This rockwall area will be the easiest because I cleaned it up pretty good in the fall.

The main Arbor Gardens will take the most time just because they are HUGE (this side goes all the way down to that pile of topsoil) and I didn't do much fall cleanup

The roadside of the Arbor Gardens. There are 4 smaller individual gardens with grass paths. All are surrounded by Sedum Autumn Joy and it all needs to be cut down. This is where I start to get blisters from the scissors.

The one really small area I have by the side of the garage. This will only take 10 minutes. I think I will do it first to get a sense of accomplishment. DH necds to try out the power washer I got him for Christmas on this sidewalk.

The Crabapple tree garden in the front yard. The two Alberta Sruce trees are turning brown. Nothing likes to grow in this acidic heavily-rooted area.
The Woodland area.

The other side of the Arbor gardens. All of those pine tree trunks you see have dropped a ton of needles that I need to rake out. Raking pine needles is the part I HATE.

Posted by Picasa Let's just hope the weather cooperates so I can at least get a few projects done.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And I Thought My DH and I Looked Strange Standing Side by Side

Bao Xishun (R), 56, a seven feet, nine inches herdsman listed by the Guinness World Records as the tallest living man, stands with his bride, Xia Shujuan, 29, a mere five feet, five inches, as they pose for the photographer during their wedding ceremony in Chifeng, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region March 27, 2007. REUTERS/China Daily

By the way, the camera did not capture anything last night. I was very surprised. You would think that whatever is under there would have had to come out to find food.

Maybe the thing just dug a hole, checked out the living quarters and decided to find the higher rent district???

Come Out, Come Out, Little Skunky.....

Or Whatever you are!

The camera is all set up just waiting for whatever critter made the hole under the shed (see post a few down) to come out.

It will be so exciting to see what it is and what time it comes out and goes back in (the camera will post the time on the picture).

I should know by this afternoon when I come home and download the chip.

You know it's so darn handy to have a blog. To refresh my memory of what I planted last year, I was reading through my label "Deck gardens", and I found these. I had forgotten that I bought them last summer. I really don't know at the moment where I will put them, but it will be fun to figure it all out. I am sure I can fit them in someplace among my 70+ containers I fill every year!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tropicanna Siblings

When sunlight streams through its huge leaves, my original Tropicanna canna lily has the most stunning foliage I have ever seen. It is brazenly bold with its striped foliage in orange, yellow, burgundy, and green with just a hint of pink.

Last year I discovered Tropicanna Gold with green/yellow striped leaves
and a flower that is a more yellowish orange color with a speckled throat. Nice foliage, but not nearly as wonderful as my original. (I know, I know, a mother should not favor her first born, but I just can't help it! *grin*)

I was thrilled when I found that a new color -- Tropicanna Black --came

out in 2006. I realize that this looks an awful lot like the old ho-hum cannas. But, judging from its siblings, I have to believe that there is something wonderful about this new one. The flower is a very reddish orange, which I like a lot.

My mission this year will be to find one of these.

Here are close-ups of the flowers of each Tropicanna:
Tropicanna Black flower
Tropicanna flower
Tropicanna Gold flower

Can’t you just imagine all three of the Tropicannas together?

Oh, heck, why waste your brain cells trying to imagine it?

I made a little collage to give you an idea of what the three would look like together.

I am beginning to get excited about the new gardening season!

I have so many container combos to plan.....must go check last year's pictures to rustle up some new ideas for this year.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I Got a Little Dirt Under My Nails Today

Silly me. I was removing all of this without wearing gloves. I had not planned to be digging in the dirt, that's why I had no gloves on. Before I knew it, my hands were right down there pulling out plants and my nails were stuffed full of good black soil. Good thing tomorrow is nail day!
I got this whole wheelbarrow full just from this tiny area around the tree. I am digging out an invasive creeping sedum.

Just look at this side mess.

This is only a small portion of the dozen or so areas I need to clean out.

My plan is to remove most of the plants from this side of the deck so I have a sunny place to plant sunflower seeds.

It's overwhelming to think of all the work that must be done, so I just take a little bit at a time.

See this?
I think it's a skunk hole under my shed. It was not there yesterday. I need to get that camera again to see if I can capture what's crawling in/out.

When I finished digging, I went inside to sew the last star border on my quilt.
It's so big now that I had to take it outside to get a full picture.
As you can see here, I decided to use the other bird blocks I made for each corner. I made them fit by adding the green border all around. I am so glad I got to use them as they took quite some time to make.
The quilt is still not big enough for a king bed, so I have to add another border. At the moment I have no idea what it will be--no stars as I am quite SICK of making stars! I need to figure it out soon so I can get it done before the full gardening season begins. If I leave it until fall, I will forget the block size, where the fabric is I am using, etc. It will save a lot of headaches to just get it all pieced now. The actual quilting will wait until next winter.

Geez, this is my third post today. I go for a week with nothing and then 3 in one day. I should have saved it for tomorrow.

Nigella Feasts

"The interesting thing about food is that it's both reality and escape. …Before you know it, you have made something that seduces people."--Nigella Lawson

photo by James Merrell

And seduce them, she does.

I began hearing about Nigella Lawson a few years ago. I would read a phrase here and there, get a quick glimpse on the television, etc. Basically I knew she cooked and she was something of a sex symbol to male foodies.

Last year when FoodTV started commercials gushing about Nigella in their fall show lineup, I already had a preconceived notion that I did not like her.

I was wrong.

I have found that I like Nigella very much.

Last night FoodTV's Chefography series featured Nigella. I learned so much about her. She has had quite a tragic life (although she does not describe it as tragic). She lost her mother, her sister and her husband before she was forty years old.

You can tell she loves food and has a passion for cooking as well as eating. I like to see people who have a healthy attitude toward food. Aren’t you tired of people who turn down their nose everytime something with more than 50 calories is offered?

All in all, I like her charmingly British accent, curvy shape, and healthy attitude toward life. I do believe she is fast becoming my current favorite FoodTV personality!

Is This Happening to Anyone else?

I seem to be getting this error about Macromedia Flash a lot lately.

This one happened on Sissy's page this morning, but that's not the only page. I am guessing that little wormy wiggles or something and my computer does not like that.

Does anyone know for sure what is causing it?

It causes a complete shut down of Internet Explorer, kicks me right off the blog and I can't read it.

It is very annoying! Between this and music slowing me down, I may never get to read another blog!

It was not as warm this weekend as predicted. I did not get back out to work in the gardens. I think it's going to rain every day this week, so now I will have to wait for the weekend. That's Ok, I have plenty to keep me busy inside.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Answers to a Couple of Comments

I do struggle with how to answer comment questions. I usually answer them right in the comment, but I don't know if many people ever really go back and read them???

Yesterday Sandy asked if I would share my deer repellent recipe. I didn't mean to give the impression that I make my own. I've tried everything imagineable and the only thing that has ever worked for me is a commercially-available product called Hinder. I have been using is sucessfully for a few years now. It's only successful if you use it OFTEN. Every time it rains it has to be reapplied. I use it on my tulips and lillies. If it rains often, I tend to say, "heck with it" and sometimes the deer/rabbits get them after all. It's supposed to rain for the next 5 days and I won't be going out every day to spray.

Yes, Sandy, we did make the rockwall. Thank you for the nice comment about it.

Sissy asked me when I bring my cannas out. Sissy, I did answer your canna questions in the comment section of that long ago post. But I'll answer them again today with pictures. You inspired me to check under the house to see how the cannas were doing.

And, whoa........look at the long shoots that have sprung up! This must have happened during the warm January weather.

Do note that little white/green shoot just coming up next to the tall shoot. Can you see it? Remember it because I will show you a close up after the next pic.
Well, here is a macro of the new shoot. Go ahead and click to make it bigger. MORE GROSS BUGS! This is the first time my pots under the house have been invaded.
When you just look at this with the naked (unbifocaled) eye, it looks like dust. In fact, I thought to myself, "What's this dusty stuff?", and I ran my fingers down the stalk. YUCK! My bare (nicely manicured) fingertips. GROSS!

Then it occurred to me that these were probably aphids and I quickly wiped the squashed bug bodies from my fingers to my pant leg, before snapping a few macro shots.

Anyway, back to Sissy's question about when I bring them out. I leave them right here until mid May. Then I will bring them outside during the day and drag them into the garage at night for about two weeks to let them adjust to the new conditions.

Now that I have discovered these bugs, I will go back under with a soapy cloth and run it up each stalk to squish the little invaders.

I did a little raking of the rockwall area last it turned out, very wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be. :) I had a new pair of leather gloves and I could feel blisters starting after about 1/2 hr. so I stopped and decided to go around and spray the tulips instead.

I hope everyone that wants to can get out and do some yard work today. Whatevewr you decide to do, I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring is Slowly Arriving

I know many of you already have flowers blooming where you live. In my little spot on the globe, spring is just starting. I still have piles of snow all over my yard, and we are almost certainly going to get another snow storm or two in April.

For the moment, though, it’s about 50 degrees—warm enough for a late afternoon stroll around the gardens.

The rockwall garden is loaded with pine needles. I may rake them out this weekend. I need to do it before too many flowers begin coming up.

I noticed a lot of tulips popping through. It's difficult to rake the needles out without hurting the tulips if they get much bigger than this.

I need to mix up some deer/rabbit repellent and spray it on all of the emerging tulip foliage.

The squirrels have distributed piles of their winter stash all over the gardens.
They have left tons of debris on top of the rockwall which they used as their winter dining room.
I am hoping to get outside tonight after work and begin my spring clean up.

I have A LOT OF WORK to do! So much raking, so much many sore muscles! I will have to start small, maybe one hour tonight. I have to remember I am not as young as I used to be and can no longer spend 10 hrs in one day working in the gardens.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Not a Pretty Sight

I store my 4 hibiscus trees in the basement during the winter. As you can see, they are in front of a large window to maximize the light. They lose all of their leaves and get these bugs (I presume aphids?). Even without leaves, they flower all winter.

Be sure to click on the last photo to see the critters in their full glory.
Disgusting, isn't it?

Every year (including this one) I take a bucket of very soapy water and wash every leaf, but it does not do much good. I've tried to sprinkle some bug-killing dust, but that didn't help either. I don't think it's healty to breathe that stuff in so I quit trying any chemicals.

I am now pretty nonchalant about it all. I just let them do their thing, because if it's the same as past years, I will take them outside in late May and all of the bugs will disappear within a few days. They will get nice and healthy looking by the end of June and bloom like crazy all summer long. So, why worry about it?

I've spent most of the day cleaning. It's becoming quite the chore to keep things orderly and work full time. I've let the house go for the past few weeks and today I paid the price. I am pretty beat.

I moved a couple of china cabinets (with DH's help) and added a bit of green with the silver just for a different look.

Right how I have a corned beef dinner boiling on the stove. We like to have an early dinner on Sunday, so we will probably eat before 5:00 p.m.

DH just came up from the basement with a load of laundry (it was nice of him to bring it up). Now I must go and hang up my clothes.

Hope you are having a wonderful Sunday.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

This was NOT my finest baking hour

It's been a long time since I've made cupcakes from scratch. Last night I found a recipe on the net and decided to whip up a batch of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting (also from scratch).

It all started fine. The batter went together fast and looked soft and beautiful. I threw in some chocolate caramel chips.

Mmmmm.....Looking good. I can hardly wait to taste them.
I was supposed to cook them 15 to 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, I peeked inside....and I saw trouble........
I had overfilled them. A couple had dripped right on to the oven floor. They were not done yet. With a big sigh and deflated enthusiasm, I cooked them another five minutes.

They were a mess. They stuck to the pan on all edges. I tried with little success to run a sharp knife around and pop them out. They broke and cracked and many of the tops pulled off completely.

At least half of them ended up in the garbage.

I took kitchen scissors and cut around the other dozen to even up the edges a bit. I slopped on a little frosting, cleaned up my mess and called it a night.

DH seems to like them as I found 6 gone when I got home from work today. As long as he enjoys them, that's all that really counts........
I will have to try them tonight and see how they taste.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Remember that Teen Head Vase I Showed a Couple Days Ago?

It seemed many of you had never heard of these vases.

I thought some of you might be interested to see the prices on these strange ladies with the holes in their heads.

I happened to come across a head vase site today and I found a similar teen here:

At $95.00, she is one of the less expensive. It's amazing how expensive these cheaply made vases are today.

So if you happen to come across one of these ladies while thrifting, by all means, don't pass her by!

I Wonder What Lady of Long Ago Wore This Fancy Hat...

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It's part of my small collection of thank-goodness-I-wasn't-a-lady-back-then memorabilia. You know, in the days of waist-cinching corsets, long gloves and hats like this one.

It is beautifully made with all that intricate beading. It must have been a woman of means whose head donned this jazzed up vintage beret (or is it a pillbox? I am not up on hat designs).

I don't know who "Mr. James" was. I suspect a high quality milliner. Has anyone (a New Yorker perhaps) heard of Hats by Mr. James?

Here I am modeling this little beauty...side view...

Front view...look at all those beads....

Want to try something interesting. I found this little game today.

I did it twice and both times it got the correct symbol. How can it possibly know what number I picked?
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