Monday, April 17, 2017

Tulips, Asparagus, and Eggs


This has got to be my favorite time of year. The Garden Spot looks so lovely with wearing its spring colors. Crab apple trees are lush with bloom this year and the bulbs are so fresh and springy. I do wish that they would last longer--like all summer.



In the vegetable garden, the peas and onions have sprouted. I should have retaken my photos to show how big they are now. Next week.

These rows are the potatoes, but it looks like more weeds are sprouting than potatoes.


The asparagus plants are beginning to actually produce enough spears for a meal. This clump I think is now four years old. I had to take a photo of the eggs that I was boiling for deviled eggs. Who needs the Easter Bunny to deliver colored eggs when we have Easter Hens? I boiled these the old fashioned way to devil the eggs, but if you watch the TV show mid-day The Chew they showed a great way of making deviled eggs:

  • Separate the yokes and white of a dozen eggs (or the amount that you want)
  • add a bit of water to the whites, beat them as though you will be making an egg white omelet. Place in a 9x9 baking dish and bake. (Can't remember the time or the temperature). The whites will bake into a very nice, perfect square
  • While the egg whites back, whip up the yokes and cook them as you would scrambled eggs, without seasoning
  • Once the yokes are cooked, place them in the blender or food processor with mayo, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • cut the whites into one inch squares and pipe the yoke onto the top of the white. Garnish with paprika.
I was so impressed with the way to make deviled eggs. No peeling eggs that don't want to turn loose of their shell. I'll let you know how it works.





A parting shot of the drive way. Soon the tulips will fade and the blooms on the trees will fall, I will enjoy the color and the green grass as long as I can before the heat of the summer takes over.

So glad that you dropped by. 

If you like, visit Ann's Dollhouse Dreams to see my latest project for Nathan.


Monday, April 10, 2017

You Know that It's Spring When. . .

I loved Maggie's description of a beautiful spring day in Normandy. Paradise. While we are not yet wearing flip flops here--well some are--, the days have been sunny and a bit coolish, but we know that spring is on the way


When:

Four new baby chicks arrive.  Two Delawares, a cuckoo maran, and a dark Brahma. They are so cute. Right now they live in the Rubber Maid tub serving as a brooder with their heat lamp to keep them warm. I' will be taking their baby pictures in a few days for next week's post.

When:

There is fresh asparagus in the garden ready to picked. I missed going out today. It could be two feet tall by now tomorrow. Asparagus grows very rapidly.

When:

The Eastern Red Bud reaches full bloom, a delight for sure with daffodils dancing at her feet. Love it. 

When:

The red tulips bloom. These red flowers were planted by previous gardeners here and they great us each year. 

Yes, it is spring. 


Other moments of note for the week: 


Nathan turned eight. Look at that sweet smile. He driving grandpa's tractor.

No Photo:

Pop the Pony had surgery in a rather delicate place to have a tumor removed. The vet sent the tissue  in to be tested to see if is cancer. If so, he will receive a dose of chemotherapy that will slow the growth of the cancer. He is twenty-eight, feels good and still has a good attitude. 

And that is how you know that is Spring

Thanks for visiting. 





Monday, April 3, 2017

Dream A Little--or A Lot

The Head Gardener came home one day some time last year and announced that he had purchased a tractor. "What another one? Seriously? We are retired. We can't be spending money like that," I loudly protested.

Days later he came in the house after working on his tractor, declaring that he had wanted this specific tractor since he as a boy, 1965 Case Tractor. His dad farmed with Case tractors, perhaps even this model. So how was I to protest? In fact, t my cold heart melted as I saw the joy, pride, and satisfaction on his face.

Dreams to come true. Last week we had the grandsons, Jacob is now fourteen, the moody, pensive, funny, sweet, charming teen-aged boy, and Nathan who will be eight next week, cheerful, interested in so many things, knows about a lot of stuff, he says. And he does.

So on Thursday, Grandpa took his tractor to small field now owned by a Denver suburb and farmed by a family friend and sank his plow in rich loam. For him it was a moment because it was a piece of ground once a part of his family farm. Perhaps more importantly, he was able to share his moment with his grandsons, each getting to take turns "plowing." I asked the oldest if he wanted another turn and he asked, "Why would I?" I replied, "Because you will never get to do this again."  I think that point was lost on the youngster, but he smiled and said, "Yes."

And finally, the the HG found the plow out in a field somewhere destined for the salvage yard where it would have been recycled.


We did other things with the boys, including a trip to the city to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The place was packed with people--Spring Break for Denver. Nathan loved it; his favorite was the Egyptian exhibit.

We also took a drive north to the Prairie, a part of the grasslands that I have never been to. The Soapstone Prairie Natural Area is the location of a major dig of a fire pit of pre-Indian culture on the plains dating back to 10,600-10, 720 B.P. We had hoped to visit the Lindenmeir dig site, but we are not sure that it is open to the public.  Here is the Wikipedia link if you want more information:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindenmeier_Site. It is very interesting to see the artifacts that were discovered. It was a major discovery or pre-Indian civilization.



Yes, as far as the eye can see, but look to the east and you will see the Rawhide power plant and more civilization.




If you visit northern Colorado, plan a trip to the prairie where there are bike trails, walking trails, bird sanctuaries, and lots of wildlife to see. This park has a herd of free ranging buffalo--well, they are fenced in, along with Prong horned antelope and a variety of birds. Most often Colorado visitors are quite familiar with the ski areas and mountain resorts, but the prairie, especially in the spring, is a wonderfully quiet and human free zone to visit.

We have had rain. Finally. Today the sun shines, but it is chilly. Snow on the way tomorrow. After a busy week with the boys, I am looking forward to the quiet of the house. 

Wishing you a fabulous week. Thanks so much for stopping by. 


Monday, March 27, 2017

Signs of Life

With Winter in the the past pages of the calendar, Spring can now proudly show off her inviting signs of life. Walk around the Garden Spot with me to see what returned for another year.


We will begin the tour in the vegetable garden. The Head Gardener has it all tiled and ready to plant. The pea fences have been installed where we will plant the peas--soon. The potatoes are planted in the rows next to the corral fence.



The rows have been cultivated and ditched. The watering system has been put in place, waiting for the HOA irrigation wells to be turned on April 1. The hens beg to roam free, and my photos show off the sign that Jennifer and Grant made for us for the chicken house.


The garlic planted late last fall has sprouted and grows nicely, needing water now since it has been so dry. We anxiously await rain which may show up tonight. Fingers crossed. The apricot trees are in bloom, hopefully they will avoid any killing freeze that might be in our future. Look, too, the asparagus has sprouted. It grows so quickly that I must make sure to check it every day. It seems the more I cut it, the more it grows. I like that.




I planted two clematis. The one by the chicken house on the left was planted two seasons ago and it should be really full and pretty this year. The second one went in last year, so I am thankful that it survived the winter.


Another success, the Eastern Red Bud. If you remember last year I celebrated it's return. We are learning that some of our newly planted shrubs and trees need a good drink mid winter and late winter if they are to survive, for it is not necessarily the cold temperatures that kill newly planted plant material, rather our very dry winter conditions. 


There is still a lot of brown in the garden beds and this center garden still needs its spring cleaning. I cleaned the back flower beds last week. We added more daffodils last fall. They bring a smile.


More daffodils. These were planted when the soil was so dry that it clumped into big clods, making us worry that either the daffodil bulbs wouldn't be covered enough to live and sprout or the rabbits would find them or both. But no: 100% success.


These photo show the extreme conditions under which the bulbs were planted last year.


Really, who can resist such beauty?

The arrival of the daffodils indicate other signs of life emerging in late March. It seems that perhaps some of these plants are early, but maybe it is just me. 

I have one final note; I'd like to share a heart warming story that demonstrates the courage, capabilities, and fortitude of one young woman whom I love and admire, Sheyanne. If you have followed me over the years, you may vaguely remember me writing about Shey. She came to live with us in the fall of 2009, the year that we moved here to the Garden Spot. She was enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado and lived with us while she did her undergraduate work at UNC, where she majored in English. There were obstacles in her life that could have curtailed her college career, challenges that others might not have overcome. But Shey is strong and determined and she persevered. An only child of a single mom, Shey left the security of her home and family to come over from the Western Slope to the Front Range to begin a new life. She had a campus job as a work study and worked most of her undergraduate years at a Walmart pharmacy. She took a detour one year when she transferred to the University of Wyoming. That year she lost her mother to cancer. She returned to her quiet room in our basement and continued on, sad and lonely for her mother. We celebrated when she finally graduated with her BA in English and cheered her on with her decision to go to graduate school. At the very last minute before classes were to begin she was accepted and received a position as a teaching assistant. 

Last week with great pride and honor, I attended her presentation and defense of her English Master's thesis project and waited with her afterwords as the faculty decided whether or not to accept her project. And they did. Graduation will be May 5th and the Head Gardener and I will join her family  to cheer her on as her Masters in English will be conferred . Her grandmother and I are life long friends, seriously since before birth. So Congratulation, Shey. We are so very honored to be part of your journey.

Today she works as a substitute teacher for a local school district, tutors at the local community college, and serves as the director of ballet for a non-profit dance group. The world is hers. 


Thanks so much for stopping by. I have not been keeping up very well with the blog. I am spending a lot of time on the dollhouse. I should update that blog to share my progress. Enjoy spring and I'll be looking for your signs of life.

Monday, March 13, 2017

At Random

Bit by bit we are finding our way in to the garden. Saturday we woke to a bit of moisture, not much, just enough to dampen the dust. With plans to go to town, we decided to get some yard work done first. While the Head Gardener applied the pre-emergent weed barrier to the gardens and the graveled barn circle, I pruned the roses. Armed with newly sharpened clippers and my new gloves, I tackled the dormant roses.


I had quite a mess, which left me wondering why I don't prune the roses back in the fall, a little at least, so that they don't look so raggedy and sloppy. The clematis didn't get cut back at all last summer and she does tend to over take her corner. She must be pruned early in the spring--late winter--, really, to avoid cutting off shoots that are already showing green. I hate snipping off the green, but I did. She needed a good hair cut.



The front courtyard looks like carnage hit. The Christmas decor will come down and soon it will look presentable.


Here it is all neat and clean. I have been saving coffee grounds and egg shells to make a feed for them. I think I will skip the commercial stuff this year and see how they do.

RandomThoughts


One of my lovely Christmas gifts from the Head Gardener, Rose Gloves. They are heavy leather, high cuffed; perfect for working with the roses. 






The fairies and gnomes  have abandoned their homes. I am sure that they will show up somewhere. They will miss the tulips and daffodils this year.


Wrong time of year for frost on the pumpkin; instead, a thin layer of frost on the crystal mushroom. The frost covered pasture and lawn this morning glisten for a moment in the early morning sun.

My parting thought for the day: Happy Time of Change. 

Have a fabulous week.

Thanks for visiting. I love reading your comments.

Linking with Maggie at Normandy Life to share my unimaginative, but informative mosaics.








Monday, March 6, 2017

Broken Record?

I am beginning to sound like a broken record, here: It is a Windy Monday Morning. Yes again. It is March and it is northern Colorado and we are just down the highway from windy Wyoming. No Gardening today. We are getting to  into the mood, though; however, there will not be any planting done until after Mother's Day when for us here in Zone 5 we can safely plant the tender garden vegetables and tender perennials to avoid a killing frost. Until then we have plenty of clean up to do. I just haven't worked myself into that frame of mind yet.

Jen has started tomatoes and peppers for us this year. She grows nice beginner sets that did so well last year. The tomatoes that she shared with us did the best.

I thought I'd share my breakfast--or anytime of day--burrito. The burritos are easy to mix, easy to freeze, and make a quick meal when you just are not in the mood to cook or if you have spent the morning out in the garden working and are too tired to fix a meal.

You will need:

1 lb. ground beef (or not)
1 package of frozen potatoes. I used the Jimmy Dean Skillets: sausage  breakfast mix with green and red peppers, onions, and sausage. Of course you can cop it all fresh.
Scrambled eggs: I used 8 eggs
Picante sauce
Cheddar Cheese, grated
 10 pack of flour tortilla

If you use the breakfast potatoes that have the sausage included you really don't need the ground beef.  If you are not a sausage person or prefer meatless, use just the eggs. Really, customize the recipe as you like.


  • Brown the ground beef, adding seasoning: salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • scramble eggs, adding seasoning
  • Combine ground beef and eggs then add 1/2 cup picante sauce.
  • Assemble burrito. I add 1/2 cup of the filling to the flour tortilla on top if 1 ounce of cheddar cheese.
Before I assemble the burritos, I use individually cut aluminum square sheets lined with baking parchment. I stack these before I assemble the burrito: aluminum foil, parchment, tortilla. 

Next I roll the burrito by folding the sides in first then rolling the tortilla. With the seam down, I roll the burrito in the parchment then roll the foil around the wrapped tortilla. I place them in the freezer, and now I have a snack or meal for the Head Gardener. While I eat one, he will eat two. To reheat them, I take them directly from the freezer, remove the foil wrap and warm in the microwave. Mine has a setting for reheating a dinner plate. Since it warms by temperature of the food, the burritos are nicely thawed and warmed usually with one setting

Of course you can add or substitute ingredients that fit your taste. 


I have taken on yet another project, re creating a 150 year old christening gown. My dear cousin wants to recreate her grandfather's christening gown, and while she is a quilter, she does not sew clothing, so she has asked me to make the dress for her. I really should prepare a better post to show the work that we are going doing. Her friend made a pattern from the dress. There isn't much to go on as far as directions in assembling the dress, so we had to figure it out. Together we figured out how the dress was assembled, so after Jeanne left, I cut the pattern top out of inner facing, sewed the pieces together then tried it on a Cabbage Patch doll. I have it figured out. Now I have to figure out how to do the lace insertion on the front panel. I will make it out of muslin first then then use her beautiful lace and cotton.



Saturday was most exciting, for my daughters and I were inducted into the DAR. Here we are taking the oath. My sister-in-law standing at the far right hopes that her application will soon be approved.

I had quite a grandma moments. Certainly the hanging strap on my sweater shows, but worse at the end of the meeting when I got in the car I noticed that I had two different shoes same style only one was navy and one was black. We had a good laugh over both.


Saturday ended at the skate park. Sweet Nathan waited all day to go to the skate park a few blocks away from the house. We all went down to watch him have fun. 

This week, if the weather cooperates, I hope to get outside to do some clean-up. The sewing project is on hold until I get my sewing machine back. I had to take it in to be serviced.

Have you started your garden work yet? We will have plenty to share soon with the spring bulbs breaking ground. Have a wonderful week.




Monday, February 20, 2017

Windy Days and Mondays

Another windy morning at the Garden Spot here in Northern Colorado. I just took a walk outside to get a few photos of this late February weather. We have had unseasonably warm temperatures with no moisture now for a month, so the fire danger on the grassy plains is high. Even on the outskirts of cities in the undeveloped grassy fields fires burn at random.  While California gets saturated, we are drying out. And that sums up February.

I am glad that so many you of enjoyed the violet post. I am glad to report that the newly transplanted violets thrive--so far. I do lack sufficient sunny spots to set them, but as the sun continues its journey toward the Spring Equinox, we will get more direct sunlight.

With a long list of things today, mundane stuff like fold laundry, clean out the refrigerator, make breakfast burritos for the the freezer, this will be a short post. I think I am way behind in visiting, but I 'll get around.


A spot of red in the garden is a welcome sight, especially when it is the rototiller, signaling that the gardening will soon begin. The Head Gardener got in the mood last week and tilled the garden beds. Next he will add the compost then the potatoes. The garlic was planted last fall, so when we get some moisture, it should sprout.

We wondered if we should even try potatoes this year since they were such a miserable flop last year, but the lady at the garden center assured us that every one else had poor yield too, always blaming it on the last year's wacky weather. Pop and Sundance, though the HG fed them, begged to go out in the hayfield. Once you understand the language of horses, you will get the idea that he is pointing in that direction. I turned and walked away telling not today, but caved to his soft nicker--you know the one, the mournful pleeeeease. Okay. You win, Sundance.



Here is the last doll dress finished. I had a really hard time with the collar on this one, so the finished dress does not have the collar. The dresses turned out pretty cute, I think. A lot of work.

Speaking of which, ladies, I do need to get busy.

Have a wonderful week.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Silent Companions


Years ago when I was a stay at home mom raising my little girls, I collected plants. I had all kinds of plants, but my favorites were the African violets. I got started growing violets because I remember my grandmother had one when I was just a little girl. She was quite the horticulturist and as I researched the history of the house plant I came to the conclusion that she must have had hers when they were a rather rare house plant.

Today they can be found in abundance in super markets and garden centers. I will buy them at the grocery store, but I especially enjoy buying fresh ones at the garden centers because they have a better plant variety. Lured by their beautiful and delicate flowers and their rich foliage, plants collectors find it hard to resist them.

Then the blooms fade and the plant goes to the trash. Not in this house.

In those early years I spent hours tending my violets, taking leaves and setting them in little cups of water to start new babies. I was encouraged by Zelma Gregory our high school librarian, whom I met when I took my first teaching job. She was the quintessential librarian-- the thin, gray haired lady,  slightly hunched who wore her hair in a bun on the back of her head, and you could tell that her hair was long by the size of the bun. Her glasses were those thin, round metal frames, obviously bifocals. I'd stop by her house when I wanted to add a violet to my collection because she was the only source at the time. There a wasn't surface in her house that wasn't covered with some sort of saintpaulia: the beds in her spare bedrooms, covered; the dining table in the front room, a sea of color; the kitchen counter filled with plastic pill cups, each with a leaf in water sprouting roots and tiny green leaves at the bottom of the shaft. She taught me all that I have come to know about these wonderful flowering house plants. I wanted to be her.

Yesterday I decided to transplant one plant, which gave way to a morning's worth of transplanting the violets.

My project simply was to save the life of this dear plant that I purchased months ago. I finally broke down and bought a suitable pot. Oh, the egg shells?  They are drying on this lid so that I can crush them and then add them to the coffee grounds that I am collecting in a popcorn tin to feed the roses when they wake up. They will be very hungry.



More on this plant later

You want your violets to be vibrant and happy like this one that I purchased at the garden center Saturday. I love the delicate white bloom with the green edging and the touch of lavender in the center. Mrs. Gregory's violets all had their common name like GiGi, or Coral Bell, but the commercially produced plants don't get personal names, I guess.

Inspired by this beauty, I decided to replant my current collection.


Violets will survive harsh conditions and a of neglect. They may look healthy, but they when they are unhappy they won't bloom.

Mine were sent to the basement to live during the holidays. They were next to a sunny window with morning sun, but they no doubt missed the hustle and bustle of the daily routine upstairs.


If you look closely at this one, you see two plants. Violets will propagate themselves by developing suckers. There are two plants in this pot. 


I used a sharp kabob skewer to separate the two plants. Ideally, suckers should be removed using a toothpick when they first appear as tiny leaves on the main stem of the plant just above the soil line.


Once the sucker has been separated from the main stem , I use a sharp knife to cut through the stem that is below the surface and the root system. 


You have to look closely to be able to distinguish a separate plant. They are easily separated and sometimes come with enough root to re pot.




This plant has multiple plants that can separated and replanted.


The plants look healthy, but too many are compacted in the pot. Will it bloom? Probably. Maybe?


Once out of the pot, you can really see the tangled mess.



Using the skewer, I begin to separate the plants


The new plants will range in size from this tiny one with an early any root system to fully rooted plants.  I will start a healthy root system my nurturing this  baby in a class of water.


So from one plant I have gained five new plants.

Now I need to go out to the barn to find my violet pots.

Come, let's take a walk. It is a beautiful February morning in Colorado. Warm. Sunny. 


The lawn is still brown. The Head Gardener wears a path to the barn to feed the horses and hens. 

The pond is a mess. We are entering the windy season and are leaves and depries will blow in. We will have a month of wind in March. The pond will need a good cleaning this year. We will drain it, re pot the water lilies, and do some other maintaining. I twill be hug job. The gold fish have come to the surface. Last year the green heron ate a few and traumatized the rest and we had a hard time coaxing them back to the surface. They must have short memories.

The Garden Spot lays fallow. The HG worked on the rototiller yesterday to get it ready for service in soon. We bought potatoes to plant mid March.

The hens are happy. I was amazed to see how much this gal has grown, the Blue Laced Red Wyandotte.

And the boys are out in the hay field enjoying the winter sun.

All is right with the world.

Here then is my pot stash. (Dare I call it that? I do live in Colorado)


I came in with a nice selection of clay pots and two ceramic pots that I have had for years.


They needed a good cleaning, so I first washed them in soapy water with a dash of bleach. Then I let them soak in hot water to get all of the bleach out.



Clean pots and nice new soil. Life is good for my quiet companions.


A fresh bag of potting soil.


 

Here they are nicely re potted and back in place at the west facing kitchen window. Violets love direct sunlight, especially north facing exposure with the light diffused through a sheer curtain. They cannot take direct sunlight through the window because the heat will burn the leaves. When the plant fails to bloom or re bloom or the blooms fade early, probably the plant needs more light. 


Nor do violets like too much water, too little water or watering from the top. They prefer tepid water, not cold. Much like teaching a cold shower for us, cold water will cause spotting on the leaves too. Consistently watering from the top will cause the crown to rot, so always water from the bottom. Every now and then, however, to remove dirt and dust and help flush out the soil I will give the violet a nice warm shower under the faucet spray as long as there is good drainage and the plant does not have to sit in water for too long, causing root rot.

A bit of fertilizer now and then will make the plant happy, too.





I am not so sure that these in the dining room will be very happy. I need to find better lighting for them.


I even re purposed Lily's high chair. She doesn't like using it anymore, anyway. She's four, you know.

The arrowhead will take a while before it is has a nice shape and it will be weeks before the the re potted violets bloom.

As my silent companions, they demand nothing except water and light. They are simple friends, the kind that don't talk back, bark, chatter, meow, or throw tantrums. They carry on sitting quietly.

A quiet week planned. I need to finish up the prairie dresses. I am having a lot of trouble with the collars this time. We are in for a warm week, so unless the wind kicks up, we should be able to do some garden clean-up

Happy Valentine's Day, dear friends. 

Linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. Hope to see you there, too.