Saturday, December 24, 2016

Winter in Washington

One thing that I had forgotten after many years in the south in the winter:  Even when we get cold weather - even when we get snow, there is still a greenness underneath, and it pops right back when a day or two of cold is gone.
We see a lot of birds in the winter as a lot of migrating birds only come this far on their journey south.
Of course, these guys never leave - there were over a hundred on the lake the other day.
We had our first "real" snow yesterday - but it's pretty drippy out there this morning, so doubtful any will last to greet
Christmas tomorrow.
Christmas Morning Update:
We did wake up to a white Christmas - not much snow in the areas that get sun, but about 2" in the open areas of the woods.  Here's my boot print
in the deep area.
A nature decorated Christmas tree.
I wonder who's out on this beautiful sunny morning walking with me.  I don't think it's a neighbor's kitten.
These lead right to the garden gate.
Looks like the Great Blue Heron has been on the dock!
The ice has been creeping further down the lake.  All the water fowl are congregated in a smaller and smaller area.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ron's Broken Ankle

After nearly two weeks, the bandages came off for the first time.
Doesn't look too bad from this angle,
But he has an incision on both sides of the ankle.  
Right side
Left Side
I was horrified when I saw the leg, but was very encouraged when the Doctor was kind enough to show us the x-rays.  The doctor that did the surgery did an amazing job of putting both misplaced fractured bones back in place.  It looks like it is healing really nicely and we have hopes he will be walking on it again in a month or two.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday we had sunshine most of the day - Still no frost, so everything is green. 
However, it's been raining for days and days and we have little lakes everywhere.  I've put my greenhouse on hold until we have more favorable conditions for building.....and
and, my building partner isn't going to be much help for the next 6 weeks.  He slipped and fell on Thursday and broke every bone in his ankle. 
Yesterday I found one nice big Chantrelle mushroom that I added to the homemade beef vegetable soup.  Even though it was sunny, it really wasn't warm, so soup sounded good.
And today we woke up to this!
Fortunately, it's still 35 degrees outside, so it's only sticking to the grassy areas (so far).
I think we're getting a message that we need to slow down!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nearly December?

This may be the wettest year I can ever remember.  On the plus side:  It is just a couple of days until we are in December, and we still haven't had a killing frost.  Ron is still mowing between rain days, and I've been able to move a bunch of plants in ideal conditions for them to survive.
I was able to move
this great plant without it even taking a year off from blooming.  Last year it bloomed for three solid months, beginning in November.  It has just begun to bloom this year.
The dahlias have just quit blooming, but are still looking healthy.  
On the sunny days we have a beautiful area for a a walk in the woods.
I've had a perpetual lake at the bottom of the garden for weeks, and still it rains.......

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Experimental Pumpkin Dessert

The cool rainy days of Fall and Winter bring out the cook in me!
I harvested my meager pumpkin crop a while back - 2 small pumpkins that I grew from seeds I saved from a Cinderella Pumpkin.  When I read about how great pumpkin seeds are for you and saw a recipe for roasting them, I thought it was a perfect time to break into the little pumpkins sitting on my kitchen window sill.
I found a total of eight seeds - not exactly enough to turn on the oven and roast pumpkin seeds.
Plan B - Find an interesting recipe and at least use the pumpkin meat.  So I first cut the skin off both pumpkins and cut them into 1" squares and cooked them in a small amount of water until they were soft and mashed them.  (Drained excess water before mashing)
It's so nice to have the internet - But a bit distracting to try to focus on a single recipe - there are so many to choose from.
Here's the recipe I found:  

It says "Prep Time 20 minutes" - but I beg to differ - it took most of the morning - but maybe that was because I had to improvise a bit.
It called out 25 gingersnaps crushed to make the crust and I didn't have gingersnaps.  I thought about making some, but it would have taken me all day if I did that, so I used a package of graham crackers.  I crushed them and then added a teaspoon of ginger, one of cinamon, and a quarter teaspoon of cloves and a quarter cup of sugar, and the prescribed 1/4 cup of butter that I pressed into the baking dish.  Baked for 10 minutes at 350.
Next layer:  16 oz cream cheese blended with 1/2 cup sugar, pumpkin, spices and two eggs.
Spread that layer evenly over the crust and bake for 30 minutes
Next layer:  2 packages of instant vanilla pudding mix, blended with 2 cups of cold milk and 1 cup of CoolWhip.  Spread over baked layer after it cools. The remainder of the CoolWhip is spread on top of the pudding layer.
It gave instructions for roasting pecans for the top - but I found these at Costco the other day, and chopped a cup of them instead.
Here is the finished dessert:

Definitely a "do again" dessert!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Continuing our Greenhouse Project

We keep saying "Rome wasn't built in a day" and then we keep trying to finish every project as quickly as possible!  Not sure my body will hold up until this one is done!
Fortunately, we brought some professional construction stakes home from our Georgia building project, so we started the day finding them and then laying out the footprint for the greenhouse.
Yesterday we went to Home Depot and picked up the first 20 cement blocks for the project, and Ron hauled them to the site this morning.  While he was doing that, I pounded in the four stakes 8' apart to outline the interior walls of the building.
Of course, getting every side to be exactly 8' is the easy part - However, you can end up with a trapezoid if you don't make sure the diagonals are the same.
There's probably some "trick of the trade" for doing this, but we just kept measuring until it was all even.
Then came the hard part - routing the existing water line from where it came out of the ground, across where we had laid out the new greenhouse, and up through a hole in a cement block.  That took quite a bit of digging as the plastic pipe was pretty rigid, but we managed to get it in and the water line covered.
Ron helped me with that as there was no way I could do it by myself.  Then he went off to his mowing project and left me to tinker with the cement blocks.
You can see the water pipe coming up through the first tier of cement block.  I did a preliminary level, but will do final adjustments as we mortar it all together.
Next step:  Off to Home Depot again to pick up mortar mix and another 20 cement blocks.  I'm thinking about filling the holes in the cement blocks with insulation before we do our mortaring.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Great Greenhouse Project Begins

I have never been a greenhouse gardener.  Years ago I bought a greenhouse at the Fair - One of those plastic ones - the biggest one they had.  When we moved it from our old house here, we must have somehow compromised the structure, because the next year, the ceiling collapsed and we had to get rid of it.  But I had never really used it either - it was too hard to heat when it needed heat, it was never in the right place, and it ended up being a storage shed for a bunch of pots, garden tools, rolls of plastic, pipe, etc.  I never grew a single tomato because of having a greenhouse.
That being said, I have always felt that a greenhouse was the necessary next step in my gardening world.  
After watching sun patterns in my existing garden for several years, thinking about the perfect place for it during that time, and two days of hand digging around the water line that comes all the way from the lake, I turned Ron loose with the tractor and my vision.
My goal is to have half of it earth sheltered on the north side, and about a quarter of it earth sheltered on the south.  
We managed to do all our excavating without breaking the water line.  I have it drained for the winter, but it's still a major pain to fix water line breaks, so we were happy to find it before we broke it.
Next step - lay out a 9' by 9' perfect square, level all four sides, and smooth out the center.
Once the excavation is complete, we will line the edges with cement block - three on the north side, two on the sides, and one where the door will be on the south side.
We have recycled glass that we will incorporate into the walls and glass ceiling.  The water line will be under the floor and will come out with a faucet inside and another outside to service the rest of the garden.  More updates as the project proceeds.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fall Mushroom Identification

All through my childhood we hunted wild mushrooms.  So I became familiar with several tasty varieties - Morel, Shaggy Mane, Oyster, Coral, and Chantrelle - but I know many more are edible - like Boletes - but I never have figured out how to positively identify them.  This year, there are mushrooms popping up everywhere - most of which I have never eaten.  So here are some pictures from my walk this morning.  Any help with ID is appreciated!
Well, I have to say this one looks poisonous.
It would be nice if this one was edible - we have a full field of them!
Coral - most coral mushrooms are edible and choice.  I've seen them the size of a large cabbage, so I'm letting these grow to see if they grow into something that's worthy of picking.
Amanita?  If so, very poison!
These are huge, abundant, and very much favored by local animals, so they must be edible.
Chanterelle - My absolute favorite!  Easily identified and safe once you know them.  Available at the Public Market for $19.95 per pound!

Monday, October 17, 2016

The River is Angry

When we had an office in the city of Granite Falls, often tourists would stop in to ask "Is there really a falls?" 

Yes - there is a falls - it is located about a mile east of town on the road to the popular camping areas of the Mt Baker National Forest located further up Mt. Loop Highway.
Just before the first bridge where the highway crosses the Stilliguamish River, if you look closely, you can see the sign at the trail head.  A small parking lot has trail access on both ends.
Stairs to the left - sloped gravel trail to the right.
Looking down river from the fish ladder.  On the other side is one of the prettiest box canyons you can walk to anywhere.
Some of the equipment on the fish ladder is very old.
The fish ladder is 560 feet long - more facts:
Here's a short video of the river October 17, 2016: