Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kitchen Garden

Our little kitchen garden seems to be enjoying the weather...nice and warm with lots of rain...and, I must admit the current conditions have made the gardener's life (mine) much easier, too.  Aside from some weeding and general tidying, I haven't had to do much with the vegetables.

This view shows our four large raised veggie beds and smaller rhubarb bed.  My asparagus and strawberries bit the dust during last summer's drought.  I'm planning to amend the soil and replant them in the Spring...and so those beds are nothin' but weeds right now!

The bed in the foreground has lettuce, spinach, turnips and kholrabi.  I planted beets and parsnips, as well...but they didn't come up.  I'd never grown turnips before...and decided to try them because they're highly touted as a low-carb alternative to potatoes.  All I can say is this...a turnip ain't a potato...in other words, YUCK!  Don't think I'll be planting any more of those!




This bed has eggplant, sweet bell pepper, tomatoes...and two rows of snow peas at the very back (which are just about done for the season).  I LOVE homegrown tomatoes...and I planted "Early Girl," "Soldacki" (a Polish heirloom variety) and "Mr. Stripey" (my favorite)...along with a cherry tomato.  My Dad taught me how to stake and tie tomato plants...and every year I think of him and miss him at tomato time. 






I found two ripe cherry tomatoes this morning...but my hand shot out and popped them into my mouth before I could take a picture.  You'll have to trust me...they were delicious!






You may remember my Broccoli bed...I blogged about it here.  These are the same plants...all grown up.  I've been disappointed in the Broccoli this year...beautiful, huge and healthy plants...but no Broccoli.  Just a couple of very small heads and a few random shoots here and there.  Phooey!  So...imagine my surprise when I checked on it this morning...











...and found this!  And several more! 














I guess I can quit complaining about the Broccoli!  Now...where did I put that Shrimp Alfredo recipe?  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Front Door Garden

Today, I had intended to post an update about the little side-yard perennial garden I've been sharing with you...but after a couple of weeks of heat and rain, it looks like an absolute JUNGLE.  A major weeding is on the agenda for tomorrow morning.  

So...I thought you might enjoy a little peek at our front door garden.  This is what you'll see if you ever decide to knock on my door.  We reconfigured the front walk and drive way several years ago...and planted this little garden.  As always...some of the plants thrived...and some did not...eventually settling into this combination that seems to work quite well.  

The big fluffy Petunias in the foreground are a Wave variety called "Sugar Bell."  The soil in this little spot in HEAVY clay...and refused to support any of the perennials I tried... so an annual container planting was an easy solution.

The little yellow bird feeder sits under the kitchen windows...and I can watch the Cardinals and
Goldfinches while I'm cooking.




This is the view from the front porch...looking down the drive.  I clear this myself in the Winter...by hand...with my trusty snow shovel...all the way to the street.  Because I don't trust anyone else around my plants.  Go ahead...call me crazy.  You won't be the first one!









The Mailman found this sweet little chair on the curb.  Someone had tossed it out with the trash...so we gave it a home amidst the flowers.  










This little fountain sits at the end of the walk.  We collected the stones over several years of trips to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior.  I've always loved a "pretty rock"...and the colors in these are just amazing.  See the three carved stones?  We found these at the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, Indiana.  We have "Bonnie," "Clyde" and "Copelan"...which is a mis-spelling of our last name. 






Here's a pretty combination of blooms..."Stella d'Oro" daylily, "Johnson's Blue" hardy geranium and pink groundcover roses.  When I planted these, I hoped that they would all bloom at the same time...but the geraniums are always ahead of the others.  These few blossoms are the last for this season.







I love these hydrangeas...an oak-leaf variety called "Pee Wee."  I've planted them under all the bedroom windows...and on a pretty day, when the windows are open and the breeze is blowing in...the fragrance is just heavenly!  This variety is easy-peasy to grow...and is a reliable bloomer (at least for me). 










Careful...there's a weenie dog hiding in the blue plumbago.  I think he sees... 













...a SQUIRREL!  Which is pretty much an everyday occurrence around here! 








And there you have it!  I hope you enjoyed this little tour...and please come back again!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers' Day!

Wishing you a most Happy Fathers' Day!



Saturday, June 18, 2011

!!!Funderstorm!!!

Hi Everbuddee!  It iz Bonnee!  Member mee?  

I fink I told yu before that I gots lotsa hobbies...an one of em is Stormchaser!  I like funder.  I don't not no why, butt I doo!  An whenever it rains an funders, I hafta go out inna garage an watch.  I like it mostly when Duddee iz there...but this day he wuz not...so Mommee sat out there wif mee.  An she tooked some pitchers of mee!





I gots a big foofy pilla...an I gots to have that to sit on.  Then, I gots to have my red wooly bankie...so's I don't not gets cold and shivers.  That iz all.  Oh...an I likes sumbuddee to sit wif mee.  I pretty happee then...an I will sit there untils the rain stops...or I gets boreded...whichever comes first. 












I fink I look pretty good for what age I am.  Sure, I gots a white face...butt I don't gots no rinkles! 















OK...now I fink Mommee iz just showin' off her garden.  Prolly shoulda pulled out that great big dandylion, Mommee. 














Tonite, wee had another funderstorm!  It wuz the most best one becuz Mommee an Duddee an Clydee sit wif mee!  I HAPPEE!!!








OK Everbuddee!  That iz all.  I gonna bee pretty bizee next week.  The 'puter sez there iz gonna bee funderstorms ever day!

Bonnee

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pickin' Patch





Monday was a simply PERFECT June day...and since I'd received notice that the strawberries were ready at my favorite pickin' patch, I decided to head out that way.  It's a pretty drive through the Indiana countryside...and it's easy to find...just follow the signs!






This is it!  I discovered this place two years ago.  They have the BEST strawberries...and asparagus, too...in April. 
















You can buy pre-picked berries...but I prefer to pick my own...even though my back complains a little.  OK...a LOT!!!
















I told you it was a perfect day...just look at that blue sky!








I arrived around 9 AM...after the early-morning rush...but I still had some company.  Our next-door neighbor was there...and we had a nice chat.






Two hours later...I had picked just over fourteen pounds of strawberries!  I am a MACHINE!


This lovely lady is one of the growers...and she's always smiling and helpful.  I don't know if her nickname is "Sunshine," but it should be!






Time to head home with my haul!










I froze the majority of these berries...because there's nothing like strawberry pie in December...and I saved the remainder for fresh eating.  And last night, I made a yummy low-carb cheesecake with strawberry-rhubarb sauce!





I've mentioned before that The Mailman and I like to obtain our food locally as much as possible.  It's fresher...and we want to support small businesses in our community.  And here's another reason...it's much easier to know what goes ON and IN your food when you know the producer.  I recently learned that strawberries are the most heavily contaminated produce item in the United States!  Conventionally-grown strawberries are available year-round in this country and should be avoided at all costs.  And beside that...they taste terrible!

So...find yourself a pickin' patch...wear some comfy clothes and sunscreen...and get out there and enjoy the sunshine!  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Iced Vanilla Coffee

Several years ago...I would say at least ten...The Mailman and I were on vacay in the Seattle area.  We ran into a grocery store to pick up some road food...and stumbled across Starbuck's Frappuccino's...you know, the ones in the four-pack that look like little milk bottles.  Now, this was WAY before there was a Starbuck's on every corner.  In fact, I would venture to say that the majority of Hoosiers had never even HEARD of Starbuck's.  Intrigued, we bought a four-pack...and an addiction was born.

Upon our return home, I was devastated to discover that our grocery stores did not carry these little yummies.  Sadly and eventually, I forgot about them.  Until a couple of years later...at the Kroger's...there they were!  Well, I snapped them right up...and before I knew it...I had a two-pack a week habit!  Now, as good as these are...they contain terrifying amounts of sugar...and at six to seven dollars a pop, they were breaking our food budget.  I knew I had to change my ways.  So...I decided to make my own!


Here's my recipe:

Brewed coffee (I like Starbuck's Breakfast Blend)
Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup
Heavy Whipping Cream
Little glass bottles with lids...saved from when I used to drink the "real" stuff!  

(Please excuse the dead-heads in the background.  The mosquitoes have me cornered in the house...too chicken to go out and tend the garden.)





Pour 2 Tbsp of vanilla syrup and 2 Tbsp of cream into each bottle...and fill the remainder up with coffee.  Put on the lids...shake and refrigerate.  Serve over ice and enjoy every sip!

My 12-cup coffee maker makes enough for 7 of these...which should last me a week...but usually doesn't!






My Father-In-Law calls this "counterfeit coffee"...but I actually like mine better than the real thing.  They're more coffee-y...and so much healthier!


The little bottles make them perfect to "grab and go."  If I'm going out of town, I always take one with me to sip in the car.





 
Of course...you'll need something to enjoy WITH your coffee...and one of my favorite go-with's are these "Coconut Macaroon Muffins."  You can find the recipe here.  They're low-carb...full of healthy fats...and absolutely delish!


Happy Caffeine-Friday, my friends!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday Morning in the Garden

This morning...I braved the heat, humidity and mosquitoes...fashionably attired in The Mailman's heaviest sweatpants...my down-filled snow-shoveling jacket zipped up to my ears...a fleece hat pulled down to my eyebrows...and reeking of "eau d'Off."  A stunning sight for the neighbors, I'm sure.  The past few 90+ degree days have been hard on my container plants and raised-bed veggie garden...so I wanted to water them before the heat of the day set in.  Dedicated blogger that I am, I also managed to snap a few pics between swats.






The perennial Foxglove is blooming against the garage wall.  I love this pale, lemon-y yellow color.  It's first year in this location...and it seems to be pretty happy...so I'm thinking of planting the taller, biennial variety behind it, as a companion.  











These purple spikes are Salvia...growing along the gravel path.   They've been in this spot for at least ten years...and are one of my most reliable bloomers.






I LOVE salad...and could eat it morning, noon and night.  This mix of lettuces has provided us with several good meals already.  Tonight...it's Chicken-Bacon Ranch Salad...with chicken breast, bacon, cherry tomatoes, avocado and Ranch dressing.  Perfect for a light supper on a hot day. 





The Mailman and I try to obtain our food from local sources...as much as possible, anyway.  So...I thought I would show off my locally-sourced breakfast!  Fresh brown eggs (from Brick House Eggs, just down the road)...homemade pork sausage (from a fellow on the mail route)...and blueberries (me-picked last July at Berry Hill Farms).


The iced vanilla coffee is not local...but it is homemade...and since I drink one every morning, I thought I should include it.  Truth in blogging, and all.





Isn't this the fattest chipmunk you've ever seen?  He's discovered The Mailman's stash of squirrel corn in the garage and has been helping himself.  After he's eaten his fill, he stretches out on the back of this bistro chair.  This morning...after several days of trying...I managed to snap his pic through the glass. 










Yesterday, I found these Georgia peaches at the grocery for 98 cents a pound.  OK...not locally sourced...but so, so good...and The Mailman DOES have an Aunt who lives in Marietta.


Last night, I ate TWO of these.  So much for the "fruit-as-garnish" low-carb-way-of-eating I'm trying to follow.  Oh well, better than a pint of Ben and Jerry's, I guess.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer Skirt

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that one of my favorite mail-order retailers was offering a gorgeous cotton lawn skirt...with a pretty "petticoat" ruffle peeking out at the hem.  Just my style...and of course, I fell in love...but I just couldn't justify plunking down The Mailman's hard-earned cash for something I could make myself.  Know what I mean?  So...I set about swiping being inspired by their idea.







Here is the inspiration skirt...

I wanted something a bit fuller...so I chose an old favorite pattern (Simplicity 4546, from 2005).  It's an almost-circle skirt...with a contoured waistband that sits a bit lower on the hips.  I'd used this pattern a couple of times...and other than a length adjustment (which is pretty much a given when you're 5'10" tall)...I knew I wouldn't have to worry about fit.









The pattern calls for a conventional side zipper closure...but I opted for an invisible zipper.  I prefer the look...and I find them easier to install.










The cotton lawn is pretty sheer...so I lined my skirt with a second layer of solid-colored lawn for modesty's sake.








And here's my petticoat hem!









Instead of a turned-up hem, I chose to do a bias hem-facing (cut from left-over lining fabric)...which worked like a dream!  I cut the ruffle 2 1/2 times the circumference of the skirt hem and 6 inches wide...for a 3-inch finished ruffle that would peek out about 2 inches below the hem.  Then I proceeded to hand-gather the ENTIRE ruffle...which provided me a with an excellent excuse to watch a marathon broadcast of "The Real Housewives of New York City."  I wanted a flat, pleated ruffle...as opposed to a full, foofy one...and so once I had it suitably gathered...I gave everything a good mash with the steam iron.  Then, I attached the ruffle with two lines of top-stitching.  


This was one of those dream projects that went together without a hitch...which for me, is a rarity.  It turned out pretty much as I had imagined...with the added bonus of the ruffle providing a bit of weight to bottom of the skirt...for a very nice drape. 


Now...you're probably wondering why I'm not modeling my creation for you.  It's because:

     A.  I'm not all that comfortable with posting pictures of myself on the internet.
     B.  I'm pretty hopeless at taking self-portraits, anyway.
     C.  The mosquitoes around here are the size of CATS...and I don't want to spend any more 
          time outside than absolutely necessary.
     D.  I have a gorgeous length of cocoa-brown linen (I'm thinking safari-type jacket) that would
          be FAB with this skirt...and I want to reveal the jacket and skirt together.
     E.  OK...it's really A.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

How to Give a Pill to a Weenie Dog


Day One

1.  Take Boy Dog (elderly, with hypochondriac tendencies) to vet.
2.  Determine that stubborn nasal infection needs stronger antibiotic...in pill form...beef  
     flavored.
3.  Be assured Boy Dog will LOVE it.
4.  Upon return home, offer pill to Boy Dog.
5.  Observe how he chews it up and swallows.  This is gonna be EASY!

Day Two
     
1.  Repeat Step 4 from previous day.
2.  Observe how Boy Dog accepts pill and spits it out.
3.  Repeat Steps 1 and 2.
4.  Go to refrigerator and select some bacon-cheese dip.  Coat pill and first two fingers of right
     hand with dip.
5.  Offer dip-coated pill to Boy Dog.
6.  Observe how he chews it up and swallows.


Day Three


1.  Go to refrigerator and determine that you are out of bacon-cheese dip.  Select cream 
     cheese.
2.  Encase pill in cream cheese, making sure to get plenty on your fingers, as well.
3.  Offer cream-cheese-coated pill to Boy Dog.
4.  Observe how he accepts pill...licks off cream cheese...and spits pill out.
5.  Repeat Steps 2, 3 and 4...two more times.
6.  On third try, observe how Boy Dog runs away from you.
7.  Retrieve Boy Dog from pillow by sliding glass door.
8.  Firmly grasp him by the neck with your cream-cheese-covered hands and force pill down 
     his throat.
9.  Apologize and clean cream cheese off Boy Dog.


Day Four


1.  Go to refrigerator and...although you have plenty of cream cheese...decide to use peanut
     butter instead.
2.  Coat pill with peanut butter, making sure to smear plenty on your fingers.
3.  Locate Boy Dog, who is sleeping peacefully on couch.
4.  Offer peanut-butter-coated pill.
5.  Observe how Boy Dog runs away from you.
6.  Repeat Steps 4 and 5...three more times.
7.  On fourth try, observe how Boy Dog runs away from you and hides in bed.
8.  Retrieve Boy Dog from bed covers...firmly grasp him by the neck with your peanut-butter-
     covered hands and force pill down his throat.
9.  Apologize and clean peanut butter off Boy Dog.
10. Launder comforter to remove peanut butter stains.


Day Five


1.  Go to refrigerator and...despite yesterday's success...determine to hide pill in small bowl of 
     leftover chicken.
2.  Select recognizable "treat bowl" from cupboard and fill with finely chopped chicken
        breast...being sure to tuck pill well into chicken.
3.  Prepare additional bowl of chicken (sans pill) for Girl Dog...who can smell chicken-chopping 
     in the kitchen from a mile away...and is now whining at your feet.
4.  Offer chicken to Boy Dog and Girl Dog...making sure that Boy Dog gets bowl with pill.
5.  Observe Boy Dog enjoying his chicken.
6.  Restrain Girl Dog...who has finished her chicken and wants to help Boy Dog.
7.  Listen for tiny "clinking" sound, as Boy Dog deftly eats chicken and spits pill pieces back 
     into bowl.
8.  Return to kitchen with bowl and pill pieces.
9.  Add more chopped chicken to bowl.  Finely crush pill pieces and add to chicken, stirring
     well to combine.
10. Offer chicken to Boy Dog...at the same time restraining Girl Dog...who is wondering why 
     SHE did not receive a second bowl of chicken.
11.  Observe how Boy Dog sniffs chicken...touches it with his tongue...and runs away.
12.  Return to kitchen with chicken bowl
13.  Add pumpkin puree to chicken and pill mixture in bowl.
14.  Offer above concoction to Boy Dog...remembering to restrain Girl Dog.
15.  Observe how Boy Dog runs away and hides on rug by front door.
16.  Repeat Step 14.
17.  Observe how Boy Dog runs away and hides on mat by kitchen door.
18.  Repeat Step 14.
19.  Observe how Boy Dog begins to run a circular route through your house...family room to
      living room to foyer to family room...all the while being chased by you and Girl Dog.
20.  Comment to yourself how well the rooms in your house flow into one another.
21.  Corner Boy Dog at front door...set bowl down in front of him...and retreat to living room
      couch...holding squirming Girl Dog firmly in your arms.
22.  Observe how Boy Dog sniffs chicken-pumpkin delight...touches it with his tongue and escapes
      to  pillow by sliding glass door.
23.  Give up...return to kitchen...and throw contents of bowl (chicken, pumpkin and expensive 
      pill) into trash.
24.  Dispense second pill.
25.  Locate Boy Dog...grasp him firmly by the neck...and force pill down his throat.
26.  Do not apologize.
27.  Go to bathroom to assess bite damage to fingers.  Determine that there is no broken skin...
      but, hey...tomorrow is another day.


The upside to all of this is that he is somewhat better.  

The downside is that we have another week of this to look forward to.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Iris!!!

Don't get me wrong, I love ALL my plants...really, I do.  And I try very hard not to play favorites.  BUT...I have to admit that I'm absolutely gaga over Tall Bearded German Iris.

Maybe it's because they bloom around the time of my birthday.  Maybe it's because they bloom around the time school lets out for the Summer (ahh, childhood).  Maybe it's because they bloom around the time of May Crowning (ahh, Catholic childhood).  Maybe it's because they come in such amazing color combinations...or because they look like orchids...or have an intoxicating fragrance.  Whatever the reason...I love 'em.  

They're my favorite flower.











As you can tell, the tall bearded Iris have arrived in our little perennial garden.  This is the view from under the arbor, taken a few days ago.  The mounded pink plant at the edge of the path is Soapwort.  Isn't that a funny name?
















This is my favorite Iris.  It's called "Razzmatazz," and it's one of the earliest to bloom.  A little beat up from all the rain...but still stunning. 













Here is the garden again...the day before yesterday.  The later iris have begun to bloom. 












This variety is called "Beverly Sills."  When we have visitors, this is the one that everybody wants in their own garden...I get lots of requests for starts! 










This pretty pale blue is a re-bloomer...and usually sends up a few blossoms in the Fall. 

















This vibrant purple was a gift from my neighbor's sister...and has the most fabulous fragrance...sort of a cross between Fracas and grape KoolAid! 










I re-configured this entire bed two years ago.  Last Spring, the Iris didn't bloom at all.  So...even though they're a little sparse...they're still a welcomed sight!  I'm hoping for an Iris explosion NEXT year! 

The yellow ones were a gift from my Father-In-Law...and are my tallest Iris, at nearly Four feet!













This is the view from our patio.  Other bloomers in this pic include Cranesbill, Lady's Mantle, Siberian Iris and "Green Lotus" Peony (or Pee-OH-nee, as my Mother-In-Law says).














Yesterday, the Poppies popped!  I love this combination of "Watermelon" Poppy, "Princess Bride" Peony and an almost black Iris whose name escapes me.  








And there you have it...the 2011 Iris Tour!  I'll let you in on a little secret:  We gardeners are basically show-offs.  It's true.  And we like nothing better than to share our little corners of paradise.  I hope you enjoyed your time in mine.  Please come back again!