Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hark the Harold Angel

Carolyn over at Christmas Past and Present  and Aiken House Garden is putting me in the Christmas spirit, a bit early for me, since I cannot really focus on decorating, baking, or even serious shopping until I have graded my last final exam and posted grades. Then I am in high gear. I have always loved to bake and decorate Christmas cookies, though I have slowed down some. Last year I did try a new goodie for the grandkids. Each Christmas we have a Christmas party for the little ones when Santa makes a special pre-Christmas visit. The kids get so excited. We have 4 grandchildren. The boys are 7 and 19 months and the girls are 4 and 2. We also invite children of friends with sometimes as many 13 children to share the joy. I arrange with the parents to drop off gifts before Santa arrives so that each child has a little toy to unwrap. We have had the same Santa for years. He is the real deal.

I always try to have a little goodie bag for the kids, too. Last year I made these little ice cream cone angles. They were just so cute. I love Sandra Lee’s “Semi-Homemade” TV show on the food network. I saw her making these little angles and decided that I had to try them. They are very simple: ice cream cones covered with melted white chocolate (I used Toll House white chocolate chips), vanilla wafers for the halos, pretzels for the wings, marzipan for the little heads, shredded coconut for the hair, plus some other simple ingredients. . You should be able to find the marzipan at your local super market in the baking aisle shelved with the pie fillings. You can find the complete instructions for the angels on the food network web site.

I finished the angels by placing them in clear cellophane bags tied with a bit of ribbon. The kids loved them. They make nice, sweet little favors and pretty table decorations. One final note, if you decide to make the angels, read the comments that have been posted to avoid some of the mistakes that others have made. While some complain that the angels aren’t as easy as Sandra makes it look, it is a do-able project. Look, if I can make them, they cannot be too hard.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lady Bug, Lady Bug Fly Away Home

The Russian Olive in our backyard has been so annoying. We have lived here in The Garden Spot for nearly two years, all the while mulling over whether or not we should cut it down. In Colorado these trees have been declared nuisance trees and are no longer sold. This one seems to have sprouted volunteer at the base of the patio, displacing the stones that form the patio. Previous owners just let it sprout and grow. Now it is a fully mature tree. It is a dirty tree. The leaves clutter the patio and blanket the flowerbeds, while the olives drop all over the place too. I go from being quite annoyed with it and begging my husband to cut it down to enjoying it’s fragrance as it blooms, until the blooms fall, cluttering the patio.

On a positive note, the blossoms perfume the air, the bees pack away the pollen, and it provides the only shade for the patio. It provides a resting spot and smorgasbord for a plethora of birds, from the robins that nested in it this summer—giving it a reprieve from the chain saw—to the tiny warblers that migrate through that pick the bugs from it. Last winter I hung my suet cakes from its branches, which the chickadees and downy woodpeckers enjoyed. I promised that when spring came, it would be cut down. But no, not until the robins had fledged.

And now this week, the Russian Olive is full of ladybugs. Dozens. Hundreds. My aborist/horticulturetist daughter says they may be getting ready to hibernate or they may be laying eggs. We will know next spring, I suppose.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Jackson and Perkins roses have been in the garden for at least 10-12 years. This year they have been spectacular. The bushes were taller and...