Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring can't come soon enough

February feels like the longest month of the year.  There is snow on the ground (unusual for us), but the cardinals have started their summer song.  Maybe we will have an early spring.  I took a tour of the yard yesterday, looking for swelling buds.  I think the Japanese maple will make it, but I'm not so sure about the smoke bush.  It's my first smoke bush, so maybe it is normal for it to look kind of peaked this time of year, just as it is normal for the Rose of Sharon to leaf last.  Fingers crossed.

Inside, things are growing.


and basil...

... still going strong.  I have been feeding them with liquid from the worm composter, heavily diluted.  I thinned some of the basil last week, and chopped it for spaghetti sauce.  The aroma was overwhelmingly anise.  The variety is Genovese and it is recommended for pesto.  When these babies grow up, there should be plenty for pesto.

Since it is an indoor kind of day, I decided to replenish the dog biscuit supply.

This recipe from MacPherson's K-9 Cookbook is called Flea Fighter Fingers, because of the brewer's yeast and powdered garlic.  They are in the oven right now, and the garlic aroma is giving me a headache, it is that strong.  And I put in only about half the recommended amount, because that is all I had.

One nice thing about making dog biscuits, as opposed to people biscuits, is you can fudge the ingredients and the dog won't care.  Most of the recipes in the book make use of bouillon, but I have been omitting it.  Betsy will eat almost anything, and does not need the extra salt.  I limit her to two a day, so this batch will last about two months.

I am also cooking up the remaining Gold Rush apples that have been sitting in the garage all winter.  They looked a bit wizened, but when I quartered them, the insides were fine.  The fact they remained intact proves there are no critters living in my garage, which is a relief after hearing of my neighbor's problem with shrews.  I like wildlife, as long as it stays outside.

We went to the Home and Garden show this past week.  My SO needs a new roof, so he signed up to get estimates while I chatted up several vendors.  My bathrooms need some work as does my kitchen, and I'd like some kind of solution to the sun beating down on my patio in the afternoon.  It seems like each thing I discussed cost $3000.  That is enough to give me pause.  One task I am definitely going to take care of this year is two new exterior doors.  As for the rest, I will have to meditate on that a while.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Finishing touches, one by one

Slowly but surely, I am putting the finishing touches on the new construction.

My daughter helps me.  We picked out this rug and another at Pier 1, both on clearance.  The second will go under my desk in the family room, once I clean the floor.  While out and about, we also found a small-tall table and chairs at Oat Express for the West Wing.  I've been wanting to have a place to breakfast with the birds.  They had to back order the set, plus I am waiting on a cabinet for the family room from Furniture Crafts.  I'm too old to wait!

The ground is still snow covered, but somehow the sage knows spring is coming.

The potatoes and onions in the cupboards and carrots in the refrigerator are all trying to grow as well.  The sage blossoms I can explain with light levels, but all the others, especially the carrots, are in the dark.  How do they know spring is coming?  The tilt of the earth on its axis?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Who thought this was a good idea?

This sample arrived with last Sunday's newspaper.

Chocolate Cheerios sounds just plain gross to me.

And when did Cheerios become a corn and oat cereal product?  From what I have read about corn, it is not that good for human health.  Any benefits one may (see the disclaimer on the front of the box) derive from the oats are probably offset by the corn.

Last Sunday we tried another soup from Love Soup - Black Bean and Squash.  This soup went through the blender, again making me wish for an immersion blender, but I opted for something low tech and purchased a potato masher.  I really don't care if my soups are creamy and perfectly blended, as long as they taste good.  Anyway, the soup was great, especially with corn muffins from the Tasajara Bread Book.

On Monday we took a hike at McNabb Nature Preserve, one of many protected by Acres Land Trust.  My SO had stumbled upon this preserve once before and assured me he knew how to get there.  Many wrong turns and reversals later, we found it.  Lucky for us, someone had been through on snow shoes, which helped provide better footing for us.  I still managed to overwork a groin muscle.  Coming home we made wrong turns again.  I wish I had a dollar for every time my SO said, "Now I know where we are!"  At least it was a nice day for a drive in the country.

More snow fell on Tuesday, just enough to justify shoveling the driveway, but since then it has been almost springlike.  In February it is hard not to get one's hopes up for an early spring.  Maybe I will start some parsley and zinnias inside, to keep the basil and cilantro company.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Scene of the crime

Nature is not cruel.  It is just nature.

Apparently, a rabbit became a meal right under one of the bird feeders.  Besides the trampled, blood-stained snow, there were tufts of fur all about.  I'm not a naturalist, but I wonder if the snow cover is helping the predators spot prey this winter.  That might also explain the dearth of squirrels at the feeders.  It seems like there are fewer birds as well.

While we usually get some snow every year, it ordinarily does not stick around.  At least the snow cover keeps me from getting too anxious to start gardening, despite the arrival of seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

I forgot to mention that, when I repotted the chives, I got to use my new root knife from Lee Valley.  Nice tool!  I am looking forward to dividing hostas with it this spring.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Powdered sugar

That's what the snowfall looks like as it sifts from the sky.  I'm guessing we have received about 6 inches so far.  Knowing we would be hit with a lot of white stuff, I primed one of my neighbors to help out with his blower, and he did.  Or the guy across the street did.  I can't tell.  There was still enough for me to shove around when I arrived home from work, which is very therapeutic after sitting in a cubicle all day.  Tonight and tomorrow there will be more snow, and there will be blowing and drifting.  I may work from home in the AM.

Between cutting down all the silver maples in my backyard and losing the clothesline posts to old age, I did not have enough places to hang all my bird feeders this year.  I had been trying to locate more shepherd's hooks off-season, without luck, when it occurred to me to use the Topsy Turvy frame.  Poifect!  Not only are there four arms for feeders, the feeders are higher off the ground, which the birds prefer.  I don't know why I did not think of that sooner.

I've been destashing the refrigerator lately, which has led to some odd meals.  Sunday I ate a big bowl of beets, flavored with fresh dill and sour cream.  Very good, but also very disconcerting later on when I went to the bathroom.

What else is new?  I had to repot the chives because someone knocked them over and broke the pot.  I'm guessing that someone was a certain feline because I also had to clean up some funky looking puke.  Damn cat.

And I added a third level to the worm composter.  By spring, there should be plenty of worm castings for the garden.  Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

February is the longest month of the year

At least it seems that way.  We received a couple of inches of snow Friday night, most of which drifted right in front of the garage door.  It was crusty, too, so shoveling amounted to toting snowbergs.  My neighbors are a little too helpful with their snowblowers sometimes, so I felt like I had to get out early if I wanted the snow to myself.  But both of said neighbors had places to go and I was able to get my exercise in peace.

I did plant the cilantro and today we have germination.  The basil seedlings have their secondary leaves now.

I am using these self-watering systems from Gardeners Supply, but the wick on the one I let dry out is resisting its purpose in life.  Maybe it needs a good soaking to get primed again.

Otherwise, not much happening around here.  How's it going with you?

Monday, February 01, 2010

A quick note

The Caramelized Cabbage Soup is GOOD, especially with a dollop of sour cream.  The original recipe is vegetarian, but I used chicken stock for the broth.  I think it could use some bacon, too.  What can I say?  I'm an omnivore!  Now to finish off that apple pie.