Sunday, October 31, 2010

This year's project

After all the construction that has gone on around here the past couple of years, I decided to take a year off except for replacing two exterior doors.  Can you say tax credit?


It's hard to see, but the faux panels on the outside of the old door had melted around the edges.  Also, the storm door was one of those old flimsy aluminum things.  I could never figure out how to replace the window with a screen, either.  The inside of the door was flat, no panels.


Six panels front and back, plus a substantial storm door.  Both sides of the inside door are white but I plan to paint them when I get a round tuit.  The storm door matches the siding on the house.

New sidelights, too, that are not all scratched and foggy.

I forgot to take before-and-after pics of the door on the side of the garage.  The old one was hard to latch, would often blow open on windy days (my next door neighbor kept thinking someone was breaking into my garage), and unbeknownst to me, had a rotten sill.  It too will be painted.

(Note the white impatiens in the photo above - still alive because we have not yet had frost hard enough to kill them.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Last night while I was letting the dog out for the final time before bed, the light from a full moon revealed TWO rabbits in the backyard.  This morning, one of them was in the trap.  I may win an occasional battle, but so far I am losing the war.

Yesterday the skies spit on me a bit while I was watering, but no measurable rain fell.  Not today either, despite the weather forecast.  In fact, the sun is shining right now.

Yesterday I pulled out the flannel sheets, only to have a warm spell descend upon us.  The furnace is off and the windows are open.  I am so sick of this weather!  I want to wear woolens and snuggle under afghans.  Boo on global warming!

And since I moved the bird bath so that I can more easily see it from the West Wing, nary a bird has visited.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ah HA!

Today, in order to guarantee some rain in the near future, I was out watering my shrubs and perennials when, what before my wondering eyes should appear but that rascally rabbit.  Suddenly, it was on the other side of the fence.  HA!  I snooped around and found its escape hatch, then immediately blocked it with a cement paver and brick (very classy).  Theoretically, that is the last rabbit in the backyard.  And the last breach in the perimeter.

And while we are on the topic of wildlife, my neighbor was chatting me up the other day and mentioned that he had seen a red fox between our houses, a beautiful creature that jumped the fence into my backyard.  Wow.  And that explains a few things, like the "dog" poop by the back fence (my dog's electronic collar won't let her back there) and the immaculate cleansing of a dish of bacon grease I had left out for the birds (my dog would have eaten the dish).

And this morning, while a visiting friend and I were enjoying the view from the West Wing, a hawk not only landed in a nearby tree, but flew across the yard right in front of the windows we were looking out.  Bravo!

I'm waiting for the starlings to leave town before I start my winter feeding of the birds.  In preparation, I have been relocating shepherds hooks and the bird bath and wondering what would be a better site for the suet feeders.  Every morning the backyard is full of migratory birds catching a quick breakfast before heading out for the next leg of their journey.  I don't see anything exotic, but the level of activity is amazing.  Then suddenly, they are gone.

Can winter be far behind?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The garlic is coming

Besides replanting the garlic varieties I grew this past summer, I ordered two new varieties this year. I'm guessing four varieties will be enough for me, but I might try a bunch before settling on a select few. It would be good to have one for "fresh" eating, one for roasting, one for storage, and one for… what? I'm not sure, but garlic is easy enough to grow that I feel free to experiment, as long as I have the room.

Last year's picks (primarily because I was late to order and there wasn't much to pick from):
  • Broadleaf Czech – raw is hot to very hot, cooked is mild and full flavored. Softneck
  • German Extra Hardy – strong raw flavor, high sugar content, one of the best for roasting. Hardneck
This year's picks:
  • Georgian Fire – raw is "white hot" – strong but not unpleasant. Great for salsas and salads. Hardneck
  • Bogatyr – good storage, most consistent. Hardneck

(Comments from descriptions at Seed Savers Exchange, my supplier.)
I have never roasted garlic before, but it is on the short list of things to do this fall, as I have a recipe for roasted garlic squash soup.  Mmmm!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nothing says autumn like roasted root vegetables, cider, and homemade bread

Saturday I roasted root vegetables.

 The night before I made soup stock.  

I was a little leery about making my own stock - cooking the bejesus out of fresh vegetables, then throwing them out? - but some of what is cooked are the parts one doesn't always use, like leek tops and fennel fronds.  And, OMG, the house smelled heavenly!  Most of the stock went into the freezer, but Wednesday I will combine some of the stock and some of the roasted veggies with some other ingredients to make Roasted Root Vegetable Soup from Love Soup, which we will eat along with this.

That is bread, of course, but what is it in?  Why, a hand-thrown bread bowl I purchased at the Johnny Appleseed Festival this year.

This one wasn't my favorite, but by the time I decided to buy one and circled back, my fave was gone.

These are meant for baking "frozen bread" - whatever the hell that is - something that is available at the grocery store?  I used mine to bake homemade bread, but I put only half the dough in since the bowl looks a little small for a whole loaf.  The rest of the dough?  I froze it.  Heh.

And the cider?  Purchased at a local orchard along with some apples.  The cider is unpasteurized but I didn't realize until I got home that it also has had some preservatives added; is it a law that unpasteurized cider has to have preservatives in it?  My intent was to let it turn hard a la Wild Fermentation, but now I'm not sure that will work.  Maybe I will test a small amount, to see if it will ferment.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NOW the laundry room is officially finished

A couple of weeks ago, I had the kids over for dinner, and my son-in-law installed the clothes line that had been sitting in a box on top of the dryer for who-knows-how-long.

And that is all there is to do here, folks, although I am contemplating switching the cupboard in there with the shelving unit in the mud room.  The laundry room is the coolest room in the house, so I think it will become the storage place for onions and such.  Ordinarily, I would use the garage but the frickin' temperatures STILL won't give way to autumn.

The only other home improvement I have planned for this year are two new exterior doors, which should be here by the end of the month.  But next year - look out!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanks, I needed that

Last winter I enjoyed homemade bread and soups, but once the garden kicked in and the temperatures soared, baking and cooking fell by the wayside.  Yesterday I dipped back in, though, with kabouchi squash and black bean soup from Love Soup and pioneer bread from The Bread Book.

(The soup looks kind of gross, so no pics.)

While I love the recipes in Love Soup, I have to admit that they are challenging to make.  Yesterday I started the bread and soup making around 9am and did not finish until after 2pm.  I even interleaved the two recipes, working on soup while bread was rising, etc.  Very time intensive, but also worth the effort.

This week's bird sighting was a tufted titmouse.  They look so perky with their tiny shoe button eyes!  I think the hummingbirds have left, and the butterflies, even though it is supposed to be 86 today.  Maybe this is Indian Summer?

Monday, October 04, 2010


  1. For some reason, the sparrows keep trying to get into the wren house, to the point where they almost get stuck.  I should take that thing down before someone gets hurt.
  2. Next spring, I would like to aerate AND roll my yard.  Which do I do first?
  3. I want to roll the yard because it is so lumpy my ankles ache after mowing.
  4. Won't feeding the lawn with grass clippings create thatch?  And isn't thatch bad?
  5. Since I belong to a local nursery's garden club, I received a free plant for my birthday.  When I picked up the plant, I also bought three planters (on sale).  I spent enough money to qualify for a free bag of compost.  I'm sure they made money on that transaction, but I feel like I came out ahead, too.
  6. Yes, my birthday is this month.  Let's just say I don't qualify for Social Security.  Yet.
  7. I bought three planters because there were three of a kind but in two different sizes, and I did not want to take one from its sisters or leave one behind.  Silly.
  8. I love my new freezer.  Latest thing to be frozen:  basil in olive oil, following these instructions.
  9. Yes, the rabbits ate my basil.  Fortunately, my daughter has plenty.
  10. If I get more basil from her, I could make frozen pesto. 
Happy birthday to me!
The three sisters

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Finally feels like fall

Although many parts of the country are getting inundated with too much rain, we are still limping along here with a quarter-inch here and a quarter-inch there.  At least the temperatures have dropped.  In fact, there is a threat of frost tonight.  I'm pretty much done with gardening for the year, although I will throw a sheet over the peppers and one tomato plant, to see if I can keep them going a bit longer.  Oh, and I'll bring in my basil starts and the big herb pot.

For the past couple of years, I have been trying to lure bluebirds to my backyard habitat.  They stop by for a visit, but do not stay, so others - sparrows, goldfinch - use the neglected bluebird house in their stead.  Recently, the yard has been a flutter with all kinds of birds, especially young robins who flock to the pokeweed.  And BLUEBIRDS.  In fact, here is evidence that they are not totally repelled by the bluebird house.

Sorry for the crappy picture.  I had to take it from inside, through glass, and this is the zoomiest I could get.  Prior to this photo op, there were many, better ones, as the bluebirds were hanging around the shepherd's hook not ten feet from where I sat.  But as soon as I fetched the Sony, they became camera shy.  Maybe they will remember the house and return next spring.

Today is a chili and corn bread kind of day.  The chili is on the stove; the corn bread is in the queue.