Monday, October 17, 2016

Finalizing the Garden Produce

I enjoyed our conversation last week inspired by my Purposeful post.Your purposeful living inspired me to expand my own efforts, seeking new, challenging, and exciting things to try. Thank you.

The weather lady promised wind for today, and boy was she right. With the leaves still clingy to the trees benches, their tenure there is fragile and limited as the wind whips the branches about.  The warm glow a Autumn gives such a comforting feeling. I watched "The Kitchen on the Food Network Saturday. The hosts were cooking all sorts of fall foods rich with pumpkin and spices, all good fall comfort foods. My Weight Watcher's weekly handout has a great butternut squash soup, which I plan to make. We have an EZ-GO load of squash. I'll take some to my friend recovering from extensive back surgery.

Speaking of cooking. I had a few comments, too, about my Kitchen Aid mixer attachment. It looks like this:

You will find this handy gadget on Amazon, among other places.  Believe me, it has been a life safer for my old wrist and fingers that don't hold on to things like they used to.

The garden is finished, finally. Yesterday I froze the last of the harvest.

As I have written before, our tomatoes were awful. These are the last of the best. Jen grew them from seed, She used Martha Stewart organic seeds, with great success. The sets that we purchased just did not perform, so she has been designated our tomato starter. The Head Gardener will hand down all of his growing paraphernalia to her so that expand her grow production. 

I pureed the tomatoes in my blender to make a lumpy liquid that I froze until I get time to make more salsa. Next I tackled the peppers, jalapeño  and Anaheim. Our bell peppers failed early in the season. 

First, the peppers get a nice cold bath. They sat on the patio for a couple days, so the cold water helped to crisp them up again. I sorted out the jalapeño  from the Anaheims then placed them zip-lock bags to freeze. Quite a harvest of peppers this year. I was wondering if we needed to plant peppers next year? Of course we will. I will make jalapeño pepper jelly and salsa later. I must remember to use my food grade, latex-free gloves and a protective mask when I chop the peppers. The peppers emit very strong, noxious fumes, so protective gear is a necessity.

We began planting the 100 daffodil bulbs  arrived  few weeks ago from White Flower Farms. Fifteen down; 85 to go. Jen is coming over tomorrow to help plant more. I may end up giving some away. But really can a garden ever have too many daffodils? I think not.

And so I leave you with Veteran's Prize, that last rose of the season. While we haven't had a hard freeze yet,  the roses have stopped blooming. What a lovely one this is. 

Linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. 

Join the fun.

Now I am off to update Ann's Dollhouse Dreams blog. I always enjoy seeing your there, too.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Purposeful Life

When I was working, I spent my professional life dedicated to working with students. I loved my job. having a great sense of pride that I was a teacher. I always considered my job a honor and a privilege to work with young people, helping them to grow and move forward in life. As minuscule as my contribution was, I always felt it a privilege to teach.

Then I retired. I was tired physical and mentally. Six months after my retirement a during regular yearly exam my blood pressure was sky high. Panicking I went to the next MD who put me on more blood pressure medication. After the first of the year, I decided to join Weight Watchers, which helped me lose 25 pounds. I feel much better and I continue to work on weight loss.

I realized, too, that laong with seeking good health in retirement, I needed to lead a purposeful life.  Only in the last few weeks have I actually set the goal of leading a purposeful life, and when I note to my friends and family that I am seeking to do something purposeful each day, they look puzzled and ask me what I mean.

Retirement often for some who have lived their entire life working is a very daunting life change that some just cannot handle. Some choose to go back to work. Some just sit in front of the TV or computer. Some just fade away when they could have had a greater purpose, a fulfilling life beyond the job they were dedicated to.

Nor does the adjustment to that change occur over night. LatelyI have determined to do something purposeful every day whether it be a load of laundry or pulling weeds, or visiting with a friend or nurturing family.  The point is that I do something that moves me forward in life each day rather than just sitting and watching TV or even working on my hobbies--not that they don't serve a purpose; I need to get something accomplished and sometimes that is very hard to do when the job is no longer a driving force of life.

Thus today's mosaic reflects my purposeful project for yesterday. I had Robert Frost's poem "After Apple Picking" in mind as the Head Gardener and I picked the remaining apples--well, most of them. Each tim I drove up the garage I saw those unpicked apples going to waste, so after the HG graded the horse corral with the tractor, I enlisted his help in apple picking.

I bought a food dehydrater fro Bed Bath and Beyond on Thursday, so anxious to use it I used my handy dandy Kitchen Aid peeler/slicer/corer to prepare the apples. I can't say how many I processed, but as you can see the four trays yielded 3 small baggies of dried apples that are, by the way, packed with flavor. 

And so Frost states perfectly my feelings toward apples: 

For I have had too much 
Of apple-picking; I am overtired 
Of the great harvest I myself desired. 
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch, 
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall

Once the dehydrator was humming away, I peeled and sliced more apples to can. I wanted to can apple pie filling, but ended up just canning blanched slices. It will be to season them later. I put them  pints, too. A lot of work for little yield. I followed directions from the website Pick Your, making this task very simple: blanch sliced apples for 5 minutes, pack in sterilized jars, use the blanching water to cover the apples in the jars, place sterilized lids on, then process for 30 minutes in canner--30 minutes at our high altitude. 

Living a purposeful life, however, is certainly not all work and not play. Last week company arrived from Texas. They always love the drive to Estes Park. So do we, and it generally takes company to get us up there. The town for the most part will shut down this winter because the main highway will be under construction to repair damage from the 2013 flood. Year round residences will have passes to travel the road twice a day during restricted hours. The businesses will board up for the winter.


The day was warm, but cool with a  bit of breeze, making a stroll up and down main street pleasant and enjoyable.


The bull elk are in rut; this handsome one has his harem of cows just outside of side. He always draws such attention, stops traffic. What grand creature.

We don't drive to the top of Trail Ridge, which will be closing soon. While the sun was shining in town, up the mountain the clouds moved in bring bits of snow and rain. Our Texas friends were excite to see a bit of snow. The fall colors were in full glory, too.

It was a purposeful day.

Now I must spend considerable time catching up what all of you have been doing the last two weeks, a most purposeful way to spend time. I though of Diane in Florida, Lavender Dreams,  wondering how she and her husband survived the Mathew. (Quick check of you blog shows you did).

Later in the day will be updating Ann's Dollhouse Dreams. Stop by this week.

Thank you stopping by. I've missed you.

Linking with Maggie for Mosaic Monday at Normandy Life.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Late summer brings a quiet to the Garden Spot. Life slows down, especially now that I am not working. The vegetable garden has all but quit producing. We wait only for the butternut squash to finish maturing. The two plants of three planted have produced large, plentiful squash that will take us through the winter. I have two large heads of cabbage yet to picked. They'll be used for kraut burgers.

The iPhone goes to the garden with me in case I need help--like my my feet going out from under me, so I shot a few late season plants while I did the morning chores.

These are Blue Lake pole beans. I don't know what to do with them. We had expected regular green beans, but these are odd. Are they are they a green bean or are they white navy beans? Any ideas?

Two cabbages the size of soccer balls destined for kraut burgers. 

The HG tore out the wild sunflowers because they had taken over. The sparrows loved them, spending a lot of time in them, making a big mess.

The hens greet me, anxious for their scratch feed.

This old gal wants out. The girls love wandering the garden, but not this morning.

In the front garden the milk weeds have an aphid infestations. We are supposed to let mild weeds grow as food and habitat for the monarch butterfly. These weeds here have got to go, especially now that they are supporting aphids.

Just in time for Halloween, it looks like the garden spiders have taken over the fair house. The fairies and gnomes moved out this spring, leaving the house to Nature.

This week is especially quiet with the Head Gardener and Boone gone. The HG left Saturday for his favorite hunting spot to hung elk with his bow, putting me on chore duty for the week. Boone went to boarding kennel. We talked about keeping him here at home, but he is still too much for me to handle. He now comes when I call him, unless he has a rabbit cornered or has gone off on an adventure. He has been know to head downtown to see what's happening on Main Street. So rather than risk him getting away from me, the HG feels that it is better for him to bordered. I agree. So the house is quiet. 

Well, not so much. Hazel has friends. I've gone to the birds. My family sometimes leads me to make decisions that I never considered. Long, long story short, the Head Gardener stopped by the Larimer County Animal Shelter. He came home with 3 more parakeets. When he called to ask me if I wanted one, I answered that if the little birds were destroyed if not adopted then he should bring them home. The shelter does not destroy animals, but the came home with three anyway.

Yes, birds are messy. But these little girls are so darn cute and funny. They have a nice, large cage and companionship. I think they are all girls, though one's paper work lists her as male. Gender is hard to determine on younger birds, so I'll have to wait to see if their nostril plate remains colorless. Females' will turn brown while the males will grow a blue nostril plate. My grandson Nathan named them, so meet the girls:

 First on the left is Sunshine, Sunny for short. Hazel is next. The the yellow bird who I started calling  Daisy, but Nathan named her Princess, so she is Princess Daisy. She is the flock clown, silly, cheerful, friendly. Sky Blue up top has a darker, crustier, more mature nostril, indicating that she is older. She and Sky were caged together at the shelter. I thought I would give those two away, but they had to go as a pair--then I became attached and they all stayed. The HG brought home a new cage, so they all went in together. They get a long well with a few squabbles over food. They make me happy.

I made apple crisp for the HG to take to hunting camp. A couple of the young men cook pretty extravagant suppers, taking turns each night to prepare super for everyone,  so he was asked to bring braut burgers. I thought apple crisp would go well with the sausage burgers. I was going to make pies, but it was late and the crisp was easy. I haven' made crisp for years, so I pulled a simple recipe from the Internet. A sample taste revealed just how good it was--it should be with brown sugar and butter in the topping. 

The apple prep was so much easier with this handy gadget. With arthritis in my right wrist and index finger, this peeler/slicer that attaches to the Kitchen Aid mixer is a life saver. 

 The Recipe

The Kitchen Aid peeler/slicer makes quick work of apple preparation. 

I'll share Diane Kester's recipe from All

  • 8-10 crips apples--I used more since they were smaller than the Granny Smith's that many will use for pies and crisps. Nor are my apples pretty and perfect with hail damage and worms.

I suppose some are really grossed out with a bad spot, but I cut it out, saving the majority of the apple. 

  • Combine 1 cup white sugar with a tablespoon all-flour and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; mix with the sliced apples
  • Place apples in 9x13 baking dish; pour 1/2 cup water over the mixture
  • For the topping, mix together 1 cup quick cooking oat, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup all purpose-flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Pour over apples
  • Bake for 45 minutes at 350 F degrees (175 degrees C)

The sun is up. Time to get started with the day, starting with feeding the horses and hens. Then some housekeeping, laundry, a walk, and work on the dollhouse (check out Ann's Dollhouse Dreams to see the progress on the new house).

Drop by Ann's Dollhouse Dreams, if you like to see my latest projects. 

Monday, September 12, 2016


A new week. We woke up to the house smelling like smoke and the early morning air hazy with a lingering, smelly cloud.  We haven't a clue to source--a forest fire in the mountains that has been burning since mid summer? Perhaps. Weed burning? Burning trash?

I missed Mosaic Monday last week because I was so late in writing the post. I'll try to get the post in on time this week. It is a busy one. I look forward to fall because life is supposed to slow down. It doesn't. I've been cleaning the downstairs room, clearing clutter, putting way dollhouse building materials since the major work on the blue farmhouse is finished, and organizing. The carpet cleaner comes tomorrow, so everything needs to be put away.

The vegetable garden is all but finished, not worthy of any photos. Just trust me when I say it was pathetic, a miserable failure this summer. Seeds didn't germinate (carrots), the green beans that we planted weren't the right ones, and the tomatoes grew diseased looking, and beat up from the hail. While they did bear fruit, the tomatoes aren't worth harvesting. Even the potato crop failed. There are tiny potatoes that formed but no mature ones. They were planted early, too. Poor watering? Tired, worn out soil? Once again we have some thinking to do. Some changes to make.

Not much to celebrate here, except that:

There are a few things things to pick: squash, red beets, cucumbers, nice cabbages, and peppers. I'll get what I can.

Outside of the garden, we stay busy, too. I'd like to share the most exciting news. My sister-in-law, my daughters, and I all turned our applications for the Daughters of the American Revolution. My aunt began the process for our family when she was accepted in 1976. As a single woman, the DAR was her life. She researched tirelessly the family history. I inherited her boxes of family research. So all of the research was done so that we could join. On the other side of the family, my sister-in-law also worked tirelessly trying to prove her lineage, which she has finally done. She invited the girls to go in  on her side of the family then I decided that I should join too. So we attended the local meeting, submitted or papers, and now will wait until we are hopefully accepted.

For some, like my own mother, the DAR doesn't hold any special significance. She hadn't and I probably won't trace her family to the Revolutionary War since her ancestors came from ireland and Germany after the revolution.  For those unfamiliar with the DAR, members who prove their ancestral lineage to a soldier or woman who served in the war for American War of Independence in 1776 with England are eligible to join the special organization. I am just learning how extensive and active the organization is; for example, it raises funds to fund college scholarships and continues to support veterans of all American wars.

As the meeting opened, I soon realized that it is a very formal, proper organization that emphasizes patriotism and love of country. I feel that it is especially important that we pass on this great heritage to our young families, the love of country, and the importance to not just remember but to honor those who have fought and those who have given their lives for our freedom, regardless of the century.

After all of the serious business, the girls and went to Target shopping, followed by lunch with some of the DAR women at a restaurant that is visited by many locals who both live in the area or who are on their way to the mountains.

And this is how we showed up for lunch with some of the DAR members (serious minded, gracious, proper elder ladies). We wondered if they would consider us worthy of such a prestigious organization after showing up wearing our new hats:

 These daughters tend to get a bit goofy and silly when they get together, which unfortunately isn't often enough. So to take them shopping can be an adventure. This time $3. Halloween hats. That's Jennifer on the left, Aunt Karen in the middle, and Heather on the left.

Head Witch who believes that life has to be celebrated with a bit whimsy and silliness now and then. 

If nothing else, we had a few laughs, people smiled when they saw us. Some even wanted to know where we bought the hats. We laughed at lunch about joining the Daughters of the Witches. The lady who is processing our applications laughingly let us know that there is such organization. We won't be joining that one.  We will celebrate our gratitude for the our heritage and our family.

Once home, the Head Gardener grabbed his daughter to do some tree pruning. The sunburst locusts that we planted just beyond the pergola are growing so fast and out of shape that they do need a good pruning so that they grow with a good shape. The HG has built a seat for the EZ-GO, which also makes for a good platform to stand on.

A Blogversary

Weeks have passed before I realized that Welcome to the Garden Spot should be celebrating its 6th anniversary. What a good time I have had with you reading your blogs, reading the comments that others have left for you, and, of course, getting to know you as you leave gracious comments for me. I call you all friends. I've met one, PomPom who is witty, cheerful, funny, spiritual, inspiring, and a whole lot of fun. We met two years ago when we decided that we meet at the Denver Botanical Gardens where we wandered a good share of the morning, had lunch, wandered some more, and left friends.

Kellie in Northern Ireland  has been with me from the beginning along with Elizabeth. Maggie and I joined up early on, too. Janneke and Madelief from The Netherlands were there in the beginning, along with Carolyn in Canada, A Brit in Tennessee joined early on, Diane in Florida of Lavender Dreamer. Casa Mariposa, Elaine, Judith came aboard a while ago, too. My list of followers isn't a very long one, but I treasure each and everyone. I had a hard start because it took so many weeks to get one comment then another and another and one more. I got very discouraged and deleted all ofmy photos. Darn it. I joined Blotanical blog where I found so many of my friends, but it is now gone. It was great way to get new friends. Then I joined a garden party, but I have forgotten both the name and the host. There I acquired more friends. Now I am having fun with Mosaic Monday where I have discovered more new friends.

To celebrate I thought I'd share some of my favorite mosaics and old banners.

This was my first banner. We had just moved to the Garden Spot in 2009, so this was the second spring that we enjoyed in the garden. I had this fairy statue at the old house. She looked so pretty among the red tulips. Weather worn, she finally had to be retired.

Another spring banner with apple blooms, daffodils and tulips. I love spring here.

This mosaic is the essence spring at  the Garden Spot in the spring: iris, tulips, daffodils (Minnows), and spring birds that stop on their migration north.

This one didn't make the cut as a banner, but it is the Heart of the Garden Spot--well, one ventricle.

Sundance, pine cones, hens, and butterflies on the hollyhocks, help define us here. The horses are another ventricle.

While I deny being a football fan, I do watch the Broncos play or listen to them in background as I do something else. None-the-less we are in Bronco Country, home of the 2015 Super Bowl champs and I do celebrate them.

And I play around a bit on the computer, too. I went through a phase where I was entranced with using textures as overlays to my photograph. I'll leave on an inspirational note:

I was looking to create some sort of spiritual meme or framable art for my granddaughters with a good a lesson.

I never finished them. I should.

So friends thank you for being here. We are having so much fun, and I celebrate your friendship. I'm in for more years. I hope you are, too.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Blue Skies and Sunshine

Fall most certainly is in the prairie air here in Northern Colorado these mornings. The early morning air, fresh, crisp and cool, is a sure sign that Summer's end nears. As we walk about the Garden Spot, there are more hints that Fall has begun her take-over. We will look for hints that Fall has been sneaking around in the garden and no doubt we find some surprises that perhaps She has left behind.  Come with me as we take an inventory of Fall's sneaky hand. 

The roses are in their last flush. Large clumps bloom on the tall stems. I am wondering if a dose of coffee grounds and egg shells in addition to a mid summer feeding had any effect on them? I think so.

First Prize always blooms in abundance
I think this is Midas Gold. I've forgotten, It didn't do so well this year, but she is much better. If the coffee grounds and egg shell didn't help, the repaired drip line to her roots probably was the reason why she had a late summer rally. This really is a pretty rose. 

I do wish that the camera could capture the true red of Veteran's Honor. The iPhone comes close to  capturing the brilliance of the dark red. The bloom is as perfect a rose could be. Makes me happy.
This was one of the first roses planted here. It lives in the center circle where it has plenty of room to grow. She blooms in abundance. She was a Mother's Day gift, a gift that gives year after year.

I don't know why I was surprised to see Gertrude Jekyll blooming, the flower somewhat hidden behind the tall stems. She blooms early in the summer and again late in the summer. 

A real surprise in the garden was this late summer second bloom of the gerum. I cut of the dead spring blooms and wished her a good summer. Also planted in the front center circle, she adds so much color. I think I more next spring.

The butternut squash plant took a beating with the one hail storm that we had, but it has recovered nicely and is loaded with wonderful squash. I prefer the butternut to other winter squash because of its sweet, buttery flavor. We also have acorn growing, but it is so covered up the wild sunflowers that have taken over one end of the garden that it is hard to tell what squash it has if any. We picked one so far.

While one peach tree ripened its fruit earlier, the second tree has a few peaches are just about ready. I picked up windfalls from the ground; even green they were delicious. A pleasant surprise that they survived the hail.

Not a surprise, however, are the apples ripening on the tree in the front.  Soon we will pick them, invite a couple of friends to pick, and make apple sauce and pies--a sure sign that Fall is in the air.

The apple hang in heavy clumps on the branches. They will not be perfect for there will be bird pecks, worms, and hail wounds, but they will pesticide free with no waxy covering. They well be delicious.

The yellow warbler pecking bugs in the locust trees is a sure sign that the bird migration from the north has begun. They are very hard to photograph because the flit around so much in the thick branches. There will be other warbles coming through. I'll try to get photos of them for you.

Pop wants to say "hi." He's actually begging apples. He looks so good after a long summer of nursing him back to health. I wrote earlier that he didn't winter well and was sick and thin. Once we figured out a good feeding regime for him and put him on mediation for Cushings--an auto immune disease--, he has gained weight, and acquired a sleek, shinny coat. He feels good again.

I love to photograph the horse, trying to get a perfect photo that I can edit and frame as nice piece of art. I like this one of both of the boys.

Horse are is in vogue now. Just the eyes, or ears, or muzzle. This a good one. I took with the 300mm, a nice way to get good close-up photos, especially when the subject does not to cooperate. I did crop this one get the eyes. Not perfect, but nice.

No post about Fall's slow descent at the Garden Spot would be complete without blue skies and sunflowers. Look for this mosaic at  Normandy Life with Maggie hosting Mosaic Monday.

Other signs that Fall sneaks around hinting that she is one way: All of the grandchildren now back in the school--the granddaughters started today. They looked so smart in the blue tartan skits and white shirt uniforms. Lily will start pre school tomorrow. The boys started new schools. Jacob is in 8th grade and Nathan in 2nd. They left their little Lutheran School to attend public school, and both love their new schools. I have started my volunteer tutoring at the University Writing Center on each Wednesday. 

Football begins. Are you a fan? Can't say that I am an obsessed fan, more of curious one often listening to the game as I do something else--a sign of Fall, none-the-less.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Make sure to Mosaic Monday.