Tuesday, March 26, 2024

March 2024

 With Spring and better weather, we've been fully into our spring cleaning and landscaping mode. Ron started with the excavator and was able to remove the top layer of blackberry brush, but there was still a lot of hand work to make the slope ready for more acceptable plants.

Since the ground under the blackberry vines consists of huge boulders and pit run, there was a lot of handpicking of rocks involved. Every hole we dug to place a plant involved bringing in some good dirt from elsewhere to give the plants a decent chance of survival.

Spring cleaning around here involves removing one last bank full of 100 year old blackberry bushes. Unfortunately, when we removed the blackberries, it left our propane tank standing out like an ugly sore thumb. This is what it looked like after Ron had taken the power washer to it. We've leased the same tank from Enviro Propane for about 35 years, so I decided I would risk their wrath and paint it.

While I was looking for paint in Home Depot, another customer walked by and saw the cans of spray paint in my basket and snarkly asked, "Planning on doing some tagging?" So I guess that's what you'd call painting an old propane tank that doesn't belong to you. If I was really into artwork, I'd have called my sister, Molly, who's an accomplished artist to help me. 

Meanwhile, my obsessive nature has me planting, potting, replanting, and repotting in the greenhouse. It's so wonderful to hang out there in the warmth watching things grow. I probably am overwatering but can't seem to stop myself.  

The other day, someone asked me what I thought we could expect in our screwed up world in 2024. I said "I think there'll be flowers!" They looked at me in dismay and said, "How can you say that when everything is so messed up?" My answer: "Because I'm planting flowers." 

Monday, March 11, 2024

Mid-March Cooking

A few days ago, one of the people I follow on Facebook mentioned that she was canning vegetable beef soup for her elderly (my age - yikes) parents. She had asked her Mom what they were having for dinner, and the Mom said "An egg sandwich". 

"Didn't you have that yesterday?" 

"Maybe - I don't remember." 

The daughter then said she was worried they were eating just egg sandwiches because either they weren't up to cooking, or they couldn't think of anything different to eat each day.  Well, this hit way too close to home. I absolutely do get tired of finding something new to cook each day, and there are only two of us, so the big meals I used to make when we had teenagers at home don't make much sense.  When I told this story to Ron, his response was "Egg sandwich - That sounds good." So part of my problem is I don't get much culinary creative help. This sent me scurrying back through my box of recipes, and I remembered when this dish was a big favorite, but I haven't made it for years. So here's hoping it gives someone else inspiration for dinner!

Taco Casserole 

Just a few simple ingredients:  A pound of hamburger, fried with onions and garlic. Add a can of cream of chicken soup and half a bottle of green taco sauce.  Crumble tortilla chips on the bottom of a casserole dish and then pour the hamburger mixture on and top with shredded cheese and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

And since there are just the two of us, I used two small casserole dishes and baked one and froze the other one for when we get home late from a job and need a quick meal.

And since I'm cooking today, made a batch of Indian fry bread:
2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 2 tablespoons of powdered milk solids. Stir together, then make a dent in the center and add 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 cup of water. Knead and let rest for a few minutes, then roll out to about 1/4" thickness and cut into squares and fry at medium high in oil until golden brown.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

February 2024


Early February brought signs of Spring - the Forsythia in bloom always gives us hope that the winter is receding and we can start thinking about gardening, mowing, planting and all things Spring.

In the greenhouse, I've started veggies and flowers and they are starting to look really good. I even put some cabbage and broccoli plants outside. The peas I planted outside on December 31, actually survived the very cold time we had in January, and are popping out of the ground.

Ron and I spent a couple of days raking and leveling and getting ready for the final touches by our excellent cement guy, Steve.

The slab in the tool shed is done! Most of the land work around the building is looking good, and I've been planting flowers around the edges. The sunshine days in February are so wonderful and we spent several days outside renewing our Vitamin D and K levels.

Then....this happened! As part of the two steps forward, one step back of Spring, we endured a couple of days of wet snow at the end of February. The picture is of my brave peas coming up through the snow. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

January 2024

 I've always liked change and new beginnings, so January is a time of planning, adjusting, and dreaming for me. In spite of weather challenges, I usually begin some gardening in January.

So January usually sends a little dash of cold water (ice) onto my optimism. The whole lake froze over in a very cold 5 days when days never got over 25 degrees, and nights were in the single digits. On the plus side:
For the first I've ever seen, we had ice flowers form on the ice. They were scattered all over the lake, and only lasted for about one day, but were definitely something great to see.

Ten days later, we are in record warm temperatures - ice is gone both in the lake and on the ground. When it first started warming, there was a layer about 8" deep of gumbo mud on top of the still frozen ground underneath. I managed to get my golf cart stuck to where when I tried to pull it out with the tractor, I nearly got the tractor stuck. I finally had to call Ron for help before I had all the machinery mired in the mud. :(

Today, things are looking up! I got all the raspberries trellised and ready for new growth. Just in time as they are starting to have buds and a few new leaves.

There are signs of spring everywhere now. The heather is blooming nicely and the forsythia has buds all over. Iris are starting to send out new leaves. No sign of daffodils or tulips yet, but my sister on Camano Island has them popping up already, so it won't be long now.
Meanwhile, I've been organizing the greenhouse, starting and cloning some plants, and getting my seed collection ready to go in the ground.

The red mat is a heated mat, and the thermostat on the pole keeps it at 66 degrees.

I've been saving the individual size milk bottles for seeds. I like that I can see through them and they are all the same size so they are easy to store. I'm trying to use only heirloom seeds so that I can collect seeds myself. This is the first year I've been organized about saving seeds.