Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Taking a Short Blog Break

After an email from a concerned blog friend, I wanted to pop back in to say that all of my lab tests came back pretty good. I am not sick.

I am just in a blog funk and hope to regain my enthusiasm in a few days. When you have been blogging as long as I have, you need a little break every few months. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Poked,Prodded, Squeezed and Forced to Get on a Scale

What an unpleasant week it's been!
It's my once a year physical, mamo, flu shot, blood-sucking week. 
I have not owned a scale for the past 20 years--I detest stepping on one. I only know what I weigh when I have my yearly physical and am forced to do so.  I am a firm believer that one should not allow the scale to rule one's life. 

I was happy to find out that my weight was exactly the same as it was last September...that's not to say that I  don't need to lose some weight; but at least I did not gain.  I expected this to be the case since my clothes fit the same as they did last year.
It's been two days and my left arm is still red and sore from the flu shot.  I always react that way, so I am not concerned.  Though I am still awaiting some lab results, I am happy to have this week behind me. 

Recently DH bought a bag of beautiful colored peppers on sale for $3.99.

 I had no use for them at the time, so I cut them up
 and froze them in individual bags. 
I got five colorful bags that will be wonderful this winter when one common green pepper will probably be selling for $3.99.   I see some colorful sweet & sour chicken in my near future.

My favorite clothing retailer had a sale I could not resist. I bought this jacket. I plan to wear it to a Billy Joel tribute concert Saturday night.

I hope your first autumn weekend is a good one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When to Collect Nasturtium Seeds

I keep going out to the deck to see if my nasturtium seeds are ready to collect. I have been checking for at least the past two weeks. I have noticed that when I bump the plant, the seeds fall, but they are still very green. Like this:

Since it's getting pretty late in the season for me, I googled it and found that nasturtium seeds should be collected when green.  So I went out and shook a few plants and took whatever fell off inside.

From what I understand, these green seeds will turn brown in a week or so and be ready to save for next year.  Do any of you have any experience saving these seeds?

I also removed some of the orange Cosmo seeds to save for next year.  These seeds were brown, like I expect seeds that are ready to save, to be.

Last weekend I  bought these three new shrubs: 2 'goldmound' spirea and 1 'Wine & Roses' Weigela.

I plan to plant them together in the rockwall garden as I like the contrast in foliage color.  I buy for foliage color, the blooms (if they happen) will just be a plus.  I have been googling the spirea and I really like what I see. The foliage color  changes from a limey green to red in the fall.  I would like to get about 5 more of these.  Home D. had them on sale for $14.99...great price! They were $24.99.  If you have these, I would love to have a comment telling me how you like them.

I just went out and cut down 4 of the flowers on my new 'Limelight' hydrangea. 

I thought  I would enjoy them more inside as I can only see them in the garden if I look out my bedroom window. The pink color goes very nicely with my living room sofa & love seat. 

Update 6:45p.m.

While I was making dinner, DH went out and bought me 5 more of the 'goldmound'. What a guy!

I know you can only see 4 here. The 5th one is behind the one on the right.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Autumn Love in an Oven-Proof Bowl

Earlier in the week, my neighbor called DH and asked him  if he would go to her bathroom to see if she had left her curling iron on.  She was travelling out of town.  DH did as she asked. All was well --  no curling iron left in the bathroom. 

Nonetheless, Mrs. Neighbor was so grateful that he went to check that she has been over twice since bearing gifts -- tomatoes from her garden. YUM!  We do love garden tomatoes.
I made a big pot of chili and I used some of her fresh tomatoes. First I put the tomatoes in boiling water for a couple of  minutes to remove the skin.
then I chopped them up
and added them to the chili right at the end of cooking (to keep them fresh tasting).  I cooked the chili early in the morning so I could go outside to work in the garden all day.

When it was time for dinner, I put two bowls of chili in the microwave until hot.   I added some croutons.

Then covered all of it with   Muenster cheese

Just like you would do with French Onion soup.
 I put both bowls under the broiler until melted and  browned.

I garnished it with chives from my garden and red onion.
OMG, to a cheese lover, this is beautiful!
Here is my first spoonful with one of the fresh tomatoes from my neighbor:
Autumn love in a bowl

It was a foodie love weekend at my house. In the cold early morning, I cooked until it was warm enough to go outside and work.

The rest of my Gala apples became this wonderful applesauce (I just tossed in 1/4 cup of butter and maybe a 3/4 cup of brown sugar & slowly cooked it down)
I need to get more of these Gala Red apples. This was so good with the pork roast I had for dinner last  night. I only got about two cups to freeze for later (kept some out for the leftover meal of pork this week).

Here is a colorful collage of my weekend cooking/baking.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Big Cut Down has Begun

I snapped this from my bedroom window at 7:30 a.m.
The light was hitting just right and everything looked pretty even though it was only 32 degrees outside.
Still I was ruthless and as soon as the temperature was in the 50's , I grabbed the Felcos, garden gloves and a huge wheelbarrow and set about chopping it all down. 
I worked for an hour or so, took a little break, then went back to cutting. I probably worked three hours and got all of this down - 4 wheelbarrow loads.
The section above was almost all daylily foliage--the worst to cut back. As you can see, three hours barely made a dent in the total amount I have to do just in this garden. That is why I have to start early.

DH was also outside getting a ton of work done--painting basement window trim, cutting grass, removing the arbor planters, etc . He raked up apples and hauled them to the compost area (which never really turns to compost because there is little sunlight).
Back in the rockwall garden this Obedient plant is blooming. You may remember that I have spent the past two years removing this plant from the Arbor gardens as it's very invasive.  I will eventually get rid of this, too; I am way too tired to do it today.  Some people, like Barb at Barb and Dell Designs, have a very pretty Obedient plant--nice fat flowers. I don't. The flowers on mine are skinny, whimpy things, so they must go.

I also cut down the dead dahlias on the deck and rearranged this area. The cannas have big fat buds and I just could not cut them down yet. It is supposed to be warmer this week, so I think they will have time to open into beautiful flowers.  I really can't believe they are still looking pretty good after 4 nights of mid to low 30-degree weather.

One of my side gardens is just now coming into its best bloom with a double perennial false sunflower that I call "Annette's flower"  because my SIL, Annette gave them to me.  When happy, this flower forms a 4-ft. tall thick hedge.  I used to have it planted in this garden, then got bored and moved it to other gardens. It never did well in the other gardens (needs a lot of sun), so last year I moved it back here and it is really starting to take off again.  You are getting the view from up on the deck because after all that cutting down work, I am too tired to walk down the steps. :)
I think "Annette's Flower" may be  Helianthus Multiflorus Flore Pleno.  I just realized that at this time of year the blooms in my Deck Garden are almost exactly the same colors as the blooms in the Messy Neighbor Garden. I call it that because it borders their property--it may even be an inch or two on their property.
It could not match better if I had planned it!  Sometimes things just work out....

Here is a close up of the flower when it was planted in one of my other gardens.

I am so glad I did not poke holes in the washtub I bought at the farmer's market in August. It was perfect to fill with water and bleach to disinfect the arbor wall planters that DH removed while I was cutting down plants.

I save the coconut fiber inserts to use year after year.
I will let these set out to dry completely and store them for the winter.

I am feeling good tonight because last year I did not get any of this area cut down, so I am way ahead already this year!  I think it's time to sit on the front porch  with a glass of good white wine and admire the big coleus planter before it's gone.

I can't believe this Sedona coleus is still looking this good after that cold weather. Coleus is usually the first to turn black at the slightest bit of freezing temperatures. I have not even covered it. I guess being so close to the house has protected all of my containers in the front.  I was thinking of buying a big orange mum  (like Eileen did here) and redoing this planter.  I have since decided not to bother, but Eileen did inspire me to stick a pumpkin face in, just for something different to look at.

This post is already too long, so I can't even tell you about the wonderful food I cooked or the 3 new shrubs I bought and planted.  I will save that for another post.  Suffice it to say that although I may be almost dead from exhaustion, I have had a very, very, very productive weekend!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Just Like Gilligan, We Took a 3-Hour Tour

Unlike Gilligan we make it back safely!

We went on a three-hour boat ride on Lady Michigan to view shipwrecks through glass windows on the bottom of the boat.

Only a few minutes after we left, we came to a bridge on one of our main city streets. All the cars have to stop  to wait for us to go through this bridge.  I have been one of the cars waiting before and it's a big pain. It was much more fun to be on the boat going through. :)
 Prior to  Lady Michigan coming to town, this bridge was almost never lifted...maybe once a year, just to make sure it worked.  Now it's lifted 4 times a day and townspeople are not really thrilled to have to sit and wait!  I think we will all just have to get used to it. We happen to live in an area  with a rich maritime heritage. We have over 200 sunken ships in our area and have become the only protected fresh water nature preserve in the country.  I think over the next decade our little town will be experiencing many changes due to this distinction.

It's  a gorgeous morning as we head out to the  shipwrecks. The waters are calm at 11:00 a.m. and it is 58 degrees.
Before long we come to our first sunken ship.
 There are three windows on each side where you can see the wrecks.

The green color is caused from all the algae this time of the year.  The ships who have met their demise in this area have been underwater for over a 100 years.

On our way back from the shipwrecks we came across our one and only local commercial fishing boat . We passed her just as she is being unloaded with the daily whitefish catch that will be served to diners at local restaurants this evening. The captain of our boat, toots the horn (I am sure there is a better nautical phrase) and tells us all to yell out, "hey Mr. fisherman show us a fish."  The guy on top obliges by holding up a huge whitefish that flops right out of his hands on to the floor.  We give him a big round of applause and continue on.
  That big covered pile behind the boat is salt for the roads this winter.

The tour included pulling up close to our local cement plant and the captain talked about its history, etc.
 When I was 17 years old, I worked at the restaurant  in this plant (one summer). All the men would come in to buy coffee, doughnuts in the morning, sandwiches at lunch and cigarettes.  I used to ride my mother's motorcycle to work every morning.  I wonder if the old "Canteen" is still there.

This factory provided a good living for my family (and hundreds of others) as my father worked here for over 30 years. It is still providing him with a nice pension retirement and health insurance.

This big ship is waiting to load up with cement.

I don't often see my town from the water. I am amazed how beautiful it looks viewed from the bay.

I even caught a glimpse of my brother (who works for the city) as we passed by the senior citizen complex he works for.

Here we are  back where we started--another lovely view.

All in all it was an interesting boat trip, but not the best day to view the shipwrecks. Because of high winds the past week, there was a lot of dredged up silt and we could not even see many of them.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed seeing the town from a different perspective.

Now I am busy cooking & cutting down my gardens. I will tell you about that tomorrow.

I hope you are all having a great weekend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I've Got the Frost, but No Pumpkin!

For the past two mornings, I have pulled out of the garage at 6:30 a.m. and seen this on DH's truck:

Today, I stopped, got out of the car,  and ran back inside to get my camera. I had to use a flash because it was dark outside, but I think you can still see the icy crystals.  All the rooftops were also white.
I thought for sure my tender dahlias, cannas, and sweet potato vines would be toast.  A few were.  But my big garage urns are just 10 feet from the truck and they looked fine when I got home from work and took this picture just one hour ago.  This sweet potato vine looks great! 
 My purple fountain grass is a perennial in slightly warmer climates, so I knew it would not be harmed.  I just took this pic to show you the wonderful plumes it has been shooting out lately.  I really wish this would survive Northeast Michigan winters.  I love this grass!

I did lose a few dahlias.  These Rembrandts on the deck look pretty sad. 
I will cut them down tomorrow.  These are the purple/white ones that I don't like much anyway, so I am happy that they are finished for the year.

These sweet potato vines on the arbor also look bad. 
These planters never did do much, so I am not sad to get rid of them.

Out in the garden, these blue salvia are just coming into their prime time.
Unfortunately it's too late to shine for my garden. I am ready to cut everything down and these are just beginning to look good.

We are predicted to be in the high 60's tomorrow. I am planning to cut down a lot of stuff this weekend. 

I don't want to wait and end up not getting it done, like I did last year. 

I bet a lot of you will also be out cleaning up for fall.
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