Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hodgepodge Week

I have not been doing many post worthy activities this week, so I will just touch upon a few miscellaneous endeavors.

I half baked some red velvet cookies.

I guess these are actually fully baked, just not completed. They are supposed to be sandwich cookies. Since I made them around the same time I made the cupcakes, I decided to freeze them at this stage. At some point I still intend to make the marshmallow/cream cheese frosting that goes between two cookies.  You will probably see these again in a week or two.

Recently I won a contest on Heather's blog, Books and Quilts.  It was a publisher's give-a-way for two books from the Crafty Chica, Kathy Cano-Murillo. 
I am excited to find an author who centers her novels around the lives of women with a passion to create and
am expecting some light entertainment—along the same lines of the culinary mystery novels I love to read. I understand it's a very contemporary story with a heroine who blogs, sells on  Etsy, etc.  It should be a good read. Thanks again, Heather!

I've spent a few hours of fun and frustration creating these wonky house blocks.

It took four tries before I finally decided on these bright colors.

Oh, Boy, judging by this sight, it's not looking like a good year for my lilies and hostas.
I need to get some deer repellent spray soon. This is what I use to repel the big brutal beasts:

It has worked very good for me. But-- and it's a big but-- you MUST spray it on every few days.  I have learned to love the task. I keep it in a big sprayer and lug it around every couple of days when my hostas and lilies are bursting from the ground.  If it rains, I do it as immediately as I can once the rain stops.  It lasts quite a long time because you mix it with water. If the malicious creatures hang around all summer, then I have to continue to spray the hostas all season. I don't bother with the daylilies because I have a lot of them and it would take forever. So if the deer desire daylilies for dinner, they can have them.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Other Gardens that Inspire Me

Like many of you, we got hit with that big snowstorm a few days ago. It did not bother me much since I was fortunate enough to be able to search garden sites while being lulled by the buzz of someone else pushing the snow blower.

I found some inspirational photos from this site.

In the riot of color in this garden, it is the red table that catches my eye. I have a similar table with four chairs. It came to me red. I hated the red color and have painted it 4 or 5 different colors in the years I've owned it.
 For the past couple of years, I have been considering changing it back to red! I am unpredictable like that.

Look how gorgeous succulents can be in triplicate hay racks.

Cute tree trunk table and candle chandy....

Oh, to have a little cottage up north with a view like this! It seems like I have drooled over this one before.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gray Color Schemes and the Best Salad Ever

I am really getting interested in gray interior wall colors.  We need to paint my sewing/computer room and DH's tiny office within the next few months.  I am thinking that gray walls might be our new color.

For my sewing/computer room, I am thinking of gray and yellow...after doing a quick google search, it seems like gray/yellow is all the rage for 2011... from bedrooms to tablescapes.....who knew?
I like the light silver/gray walls with  light yellow accents.

I already have a bit of gray in that room. My storage chest and my sewing machine desk is already black/gray.

I would just paint the black areas in a nice oil-based light yellow. The more I think about it, the more I am liking this color scheme.

DH has a tiny office next to my sewing room. I am thinking of painting both rooms in light silver/gray, but using orange  accents in his little office.  I found this gray/orange office on the net:
I really like this office space. Of course this one is "designed" with nothing in it,but complementary items. DH's office space is much more full...books, etc. that are not in the color scheme colors so his would look very different.

I will think more about colors later.

Right now it's time for dinner.  Sunday I went grocery shopping with DH and I bought a mango. I was not sure how good they were, so I just bought one.

I made a big spinach, mango,strawberry, grape &mandarin orange, red onion & pecan salad with poppy seed dressing.
OMG -- it was delish! I am going to make another one tonight.  If I am able to choose my last meal, this would be it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Made Cupcakes Again

I just bought the cute tulip liners yesterday. This time I made my own frosting--nonsweet buttery red velvet cake frosting.-- (much better than the canned stuff that I used last time).   I tinted it peachy pink.

"Why pink?" I will pretend you asked because the question is the perfect segue to the reason I am posting twice today.

Pastel frosting goes nicely with the cupcake table runner I recently finished and wanted to show you.

I am now done  posting for today. I am going to eat a cupcake.


1 cup milk
2 TBL flour
1 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. butter

Cook flour and milk in double boiler until thick, stirring constantly. Let milk mixture cool completely. Cream sugar, butter and vanilla until light & fluffy (takes about 8 minutes). Add the cooled milk/flour mixture and beat about another 10 minutes.

Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes

Welcome Spring!

I ventured  outside in mid-thirty degree temperatures to snap a few pictures of my zone 5 garden just a few hours before it became Spring 2011.

Look at that snow bank behind my rockwall garden--It's gone down about 3 feet in the last week (we had one 60+ degree day), but it's still huge!

 Right next to the house in the backyard the snow is almost what did I stick in the ground to overwinter?
Ah, a closer inspection jogs my memory. I bought 5 Silver Mound Artemesia last fall and did not know what to do with them, so I just left them in their plastic containers and buried them in the ground in front of a basement window.  It looks like they will survive.

Now what's this hole? It looks like a skunk has already been digging in the front yard right under the living room window.  But look, there is a little spot of new green growth - a grape hyacinth.
This tiny little garden is the only one with no snow.  I can't wait until it is warm enough for me to go out and cut down the dead foliage.  I have not looked at the forecast for today, but right now it is 19 degrees, so I probably won't be out there today.

I hope it's more like spring where you are!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Garden Projects to Remember in 2011

How do you all remember those wonderful ideas you had in the previous year for your garden?

I almost never remember anything that I thought of last year. I have been trying to add text to my pictures to remind me of the changes I want to make. I save these pics in a file called "Remember Next Year".  If I remember to look at them, then I have a chance of actually making the changes.  But most often I don't look at them until it's too late to do anything.

This afternoon I was checking out Microsoft Office Picture Manager (since getting a new computer last June, I still have not found a good way to keep track of my pictures--I really hate when they change everything. I used to use Dell Photo Somthing or Another, but it's no longer available). Anyway I came across these pictures:

On this pic, I have had to remind myself not to do anything because I can't stand to see bare soil in my gardens (drives me nuts!).

I had already forgotten all four of these.  Now I know what I will do with the blue morning glories seeds I recently purchased!

How do you all remember what you thought of the previous year?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sushi for Your Tootsies

Now this is a unique give-a-way!
Heather, from Books and Quilts, is giving away a pair of sushi socks! You can enter by going to this post and leaving a sushi-related comment. Heather publishes a lot of good book reviews, so while you are there, you may want to look around the blog to see if you can find some new reading material.

Have fun!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Smoothie

Banana, kiwi, grapes......this Shamrock Smoothie from Midwest Living magazine sounds like a delicious healthy indulgence for St. Patrick's Day. I have those clear glass cups so I could make them look just like this. I won't be making them today, but I think they might be nice for a summer afternoon on the deck, so I am saving the recipe.

Except for a teeny tiny bite of corned beef at work, I did (and will do) nothing to celebrate today.  I had visions of making the famous red cake only using green food coloring (I even thawed out the left over Buttermilk I saved last month), but that never happened. I still think it would have been a great idea for a St. Patrick's Day dessert.  Maybe I will make it this weekend since I have to do something with the Buttermilk.

What about you? Did you do anything festive today?

On my way home from work, I stopped at the library to pick up another book. P.A. Smith's, Colors for the Garden.  I opened the book to glorious hot garden colors.....he is even using my favorite Tropicannas.
Oh, big black Elephant Ears in a hot color scheme....he's talking my kind of gardening! 
I was getting short of breath from the excitement of having nearly 200 pages of wonderful reading!

Then I got to page 98....what? The remainder of the book looked like this on every page from 98 - 185.
I really do not like to see pages of plant lists like this.  Show me the gorgeous pictures, then list the plants underneath.  I won't even bother reading any more of this one. Darn! I was so excited to think I finally found a really good gardening book.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Junque with Spunk

After my post yesterday I was surprised to open my new issue of Country Gardens magazine today and find this rusty mini wheelbarrow planted with succulents.  Cute! (Dianne, I agree with you that the rusty ones look great in a garden.)

They also have a few other cute pieces of junque planted with the same succulents:

Look at this old bird cage turned into a candle holder with ivy........she used an old chandelier for the candles.

Take note of that lamp base on the right side.  You won't believe what she turned that into....

How about this?

Seriously, Wow--Love it!
I took a pic of the directions for the enquiring minds who want to know how the designer made this transformation from lamp to gorgeous planter.........

Now this is an example of my kind of garden junk!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wheelbarrow Whimsy

You can tell I am getting a bit of spring fever because I've been thinking about my container gardens.

I am not usually a fan of planted wheelbarrows, but I now find myself the owner of a dysfunctional wheelbarrow.

I think I may try to plant it this summer.  Seeking  inspiration, I did an image search for wheelbarrow plantings.  I like these, especially the white one with the celosia planted all around it. I bet it was a sight to behold once that garden filled in!

While searching I discovered what I don't like about most wheelbarrow plantings--the ugly rubber wheel and they are not planted full enough.  I am thinking if I put a spiller plant above the ugly wheel, it will be covered in no time.  I really wish I had one of those metal wheels, like the last photo.  If I remove the rubber, will there be metal spokes under it?  Don't laugh, I know nothing about wheelbarrow construction.

I saw a few wheelbarrows planted with salad fixings--how neat would that be--a wheelbarrow full of dinner salad! Some gourmet lettuce mix, radishes, green onions, etc.  It could be wheeled around to catch the sun.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Joy of a Sharp Knife

Growing up I never knew the joy of a sharp knife. I don't think my sweet mother ever thought about the sharpness of her knives.  She was content to saw back and forth for any  necessary cuts she made. We never had any quality knives and I don't remember ever seeing anyone sharpen a knife while I was growing up.

So how I ever became obsessed with having "good" knives, I don't know. I guess it came from watching so many FoodTV shows.

  A few years ago I finally bit the bullet and invested a good chunk of half a week's salary to buy  a set of (5) Wusthof knives.

The first time I felt that full-tanged knife slide through a red ripe tomato, I was hooked! That knife slid so easily through that tomato---trust me, it was a sight to behold.

"What is full-tanged?", you ask. I had never heard  that term either until I began investigating "good" knives. See that metal at the top of these knives?
Full-tanged means that the metal from the knife blade runs all the way through to the handle. It's one solid piece.  Therefore, it is nearly impossible to break a full-tanged knife.  To say a knife has a full tang is a good thing indeed.

I tell you all of this only because after getting these expensive knives, I had to find a way to keep them sharp.  I searched for years and could not find a craftsman in my little town who sharpened knives.  There used to be a shop in town,  but the man retired years ago. 

So I bought an electric knife sharpener and I used my honing tool and did the best I could to keep my knives sharp.  I watched YouTube videos to see how it was done and,I guess, I did a satisfactory job. 
Then last week my work friend (our Chief Engineer) picked up a business card hanging on the bulletin board at the local hardware store and gave it to me.  It was for the man who retired years ago -- he had set up a sharpening shop in his home!

I can't even tell you how thrilled I was--it's the best thing that has happened to me so far in 2011.  Really...I know...I lead a dull life.........that's OK as long as my knives are not dull! :)

I called him immediately and put my beloved Wusthof's in the plastic bag you saw above and had DH drop them off at his home.  The man had them all sharpened within an hour.  I can't even begin to describe the thrill as I peeled my first potato for last weekend's dinner with that sharp paring knife!

Yesterday I gathered up (and wrapped in a towel) more items that needed sharpening .........more knives....that cleaver in the back is very old and very dull  (I  bought it at a garage sale).  Now that it is sharp, I can't wait to use it.

If you glance toward the back, you will see my Felco pruners. Now I am all set to get outside and begin the massive cut down of all the dead flower foliage that I did not cut down last fall--see all that brown stuff sticking up through the snow?  
It all must be cut down this spring.

I also had my  lopper sharpened...the tool I use to cut small branches (I did not get a pic of the lopper).

At the moment, I think I have had everything sharpened that I need sharpened.

Ah, the joy of sharp tools!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Seeds 2011,Turkeys & Cupcakes

You all know that I can't grow anything from a seed...I've been telling you about my seed disasters for the past 7 years.

Ever the garden optimist, I buy seeds again this year.

Just look at these beauties!
I am most excited about these two:
I have never even heard of Poppy hens and chicks....but they are a true art great will these things look in indoor arrangements? I get all tingly just thinking about it!  Bells of Ireland, I have grown once before.  They are just cool because they are green and so unique in an indoor arrangement.

I googled Poppy hens and chicks and found that they actually do get a flower! I was wondering, since the seed packet shows only the seed heads. I got this info here.
I am sooooooo excited about these. I hope I can get some to grow.  Are they just California poppies? That is what they look like to me.

Other than my normal  8.5 hours at work , I have been spending my snowy days inside sewing.  Cupcakes and turkeys--that's what I've been making........

I puttered around until I figured out how to make a turkey out of a Dresden Plate quilt block.
I made two of these guys (slightly different) and I am intending to make a table drape for Thanksgiving with them.

I went to Joanne's on Sunday and brought home some cupcake fabric. I am currently working on something using these little cupcake squares:

I will show you the finished results, should I ever really finish them!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mother Nature can be so Cruel

This is what we woke up to this morning.  We had no idea we were going to get over six inches of snow.  As you can see we still have a lot of snow. It looks like it will be quite a few weeks before I will be doing any garden chores.

So I spent my entire Saturday morning in my sewing room completing this lovebird quilt block.  I had tons of problems, but finally got it done about 11:00 a.m.

Then I did a couple loads of laundry, changed the bed linen and cooked a pork roast for dinner.  Quite a delicious dinner, if I do say so myself.  I made some more of those Parmesan cheese baked potatoes that we like so well last month.The meal was easy to prepare and DH loved it. 

While I was in the basement doing laundry, I spotted my painted wooden kitchen utensils and brought them upstairs so I could use them to display pot holders. I just put a wonky outhouse pot holder on the spoon and  set it atop the knobs on the kitchen glassware cabinet.

This wonky house on the fork is my favorite.

The fork is what I like. I like the outhouse potholder better than the house.

Despite Mother Nature's cruelness, I had a pretty good day.

I hope you did, too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I Need to Have More Candlelit Dinners


So I can use up some of the candles I have accumulated.

I was walking to the checkout at Joanne's Fabric store today and did a double take when I saw a set of 8 colored votives marked down to .99 a pack (regular $5/pk).
I took one of each color and when I got home I had to find a place to put them.

I have some votive/chunky candle cupboards in my kitchen. I keep tapers in a different area (make that area"s"--yes, I have multiple spots for tapers.  But here is the votive/fat candle cupboard:

As you see, I did find a spot to tuck them in, but the cupboards are now filled to capacity.

I actually have more than candles in these cupboards.  The top shelf is mostly treat bags and cute paper napkins that I buy after the holiday when they are marked way down.  I don't even know what is in this stack.
These St. Patrick's day bags were on the top so  I probably bought them last year.  I should make some shamrock sugar cookies and give them out in these bags. 

Joanne's also had these funky buttons marked down to 25 cents each.  I am sure they will be perfect for something that I have yet to imagine. :)
I got half off the $7 price of the purple textured fabric bundle....could not resist... as I bought the same bundle in green two weeks ago and I am using it right now to make a tropical love bird block.  It's great to have 4 or 5 fabrics that are just a shade different.  My first thought with this pack was a purple rose.  We shall see...

Of course I also bought more fabric.......9 different polka dot fabrics...that is what I went there to get. The other stuff was purchased on impulse.
So here it is Friday afternoon and I have new fabric and two days to do whatever I want. 

Life is good!
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