December 23, 2017:

Hola!

It's COLD here and getting colder by the day, brrrrr. By December 26th the high may be only 3 degrees above zero. Yuck! But it's nice and cozy inside, and filled with the scents and sights of Christmas and Yuletide!

Today I made a crock pot full of my easy-peasy Beef Burgundy, made with a soup can full of sweet red wine (to rinse out the soup can, of course), and four other ingredients: beef (this pot I used beef already sliced in the package for beef stroganoff, and then cut the long thin strips into bite sizes), a can of Golden Mushroom soup, an 8 ounce package of whole button mushrooms cut into halves and thirds (depending on cap size), and a packet plus a little extra of a second packet of dried onion soup/dip mix. I also added a generous helping of ground pepper, dried thyme and dried - and aged (a year and three months, yikes!) of whole basil leaves that I ground up in between my fingers. Then the pot cooked on the "low" heat setting for 4 hours, with only one stir half-way through. The scent permeated the house and even managed to waft out to the street - wowsers - guess I need to get some additional insulation in these 1956 walls! My mouth was watering by the time I made up my first dish (over on-purpose a bit dry mashed potatoes) and gobbled it down, then had half a second dish as well! Now I want a nap.

I have my dark chocolate covered Queen Anne brand cherries (a Christmas must!), Beringer White Zinfandel wine, plenty of new fuel for my gel fuel fireplace and a host of Christmas movies to watch. Best of all, Solstice is done and we had a bit of sunlight day, late this afternoon. Every day, although it is not noticeable right now, it will get lighter a few minutes earlier and the Sun will sink below the horizon a few minutes later each day until the Summer Solstice on June 21. The worst is over, except for the bitter cold of January and February. I think I will go visit my friend Isis in Las Vegas in March - that always perks me right up :)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all, and may the Season's blessings shower you with good fortune for all of 2018.

Jan

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Endless Puttering Around the Garden

Hola everyone!  I'm still here and kicking, although not quite as 20 years ago, sigh.

It seems that yard work around here is never-ending.  It's funny, I do not seem to remember having this much to do in the yard all the time when I was at my bigger house with the much bigger yard.  Why on earth is that, and how can that possibly be???

I have several items that still need to be transplanted, including a volunteer (probably from bird poop) of a honeysuckle shrub that has sprung up on the right side of the concrete bird bath:


I also want to move over the purple shrub against the back of the fence on the left side of the bird bath (you can just barely see it, about 3 branches peeking up), as it's too close to the Japanese maple. I want to move it to the spot I'm vacating by moving the honeysuckle, which was never intended to be there.  That honeysuckle will get very large if I let it, and I don't feel like constantly pruning it to keep it a small size for the north garden bed.  It seems every time I turn around, I have some new surprise popping up in my garden beds.

The nice 6 foot tall privacy fence that went in early last November looks great; it hasn't started to "silver" yet, but it will, eventually.  The plants seem to like having the taller fence there, I think it may be creating a warmer micro-climate, especially along that north lot line.

I bought a roll of sod to finally fill in a few depressions in the backyard that have been driving me nuts for the past few years.  I keep filling them in with top soil and the squirrels promptly dig out all the dirt in record time, so the depressions are deeper than ever because the dug-out dirt builds up around the edges, sigh.  Well, I bought that sod on May 26th and it's still rolled up in a sheet.  Oops.   As of today, the poor sod is probably dead; I wet it down when I remember to do that and it hasn't rained (we've had a LOT of rain here lately).  I'm afraid to open up the sheet and unroll the sod (yes, I'm a coward that way).  Oh well.

I have more to write about, but I just got off a Skype call with a friend of mine, and once I get her on I can't get her off, 1.5 hours poof - gone!  It was supposed to be a test to see if her Skype still worked.  So, here are a few photos of plants and/or successful transplants I moved into the south garden along the edge of the driveway last year, I'll have to come back and post again, there's some to catch up on!


This is one of two shasta daisies I planted new last year in the driveway garden bed.  One did not make it over the winter but this one popped right up and as you can see, is loving the hot sunny location.


The hydrangea was transplanted from the backyard north lot line last year, in preparation for having the new fence put in.  It was a little droopy in this photo; I watered it afterwards and in less than an hour it perked right back up.  There are two pine trees on that side of the lot bordering the driveway (south lot line area) and they shed tons of needles and pine cones, keeping the soil very acidic.  The hydrangea loves it.  When it was in the backyard, I had to give it lemon juice to get that color on the blooms.  This year, it came up with the flowers already those lovely lavender and lavender-pink colors!  This is a "mini" shrub, it will get wider as it matures but not much taller.

On the left side of the hydrangea is a columbine I put in last year, which seeded plentifully and I now have columbines popping up throughout the south garden bed, which is fine with me; on the right is a faded bleeding heart.  The blooms on both are gone, although the deep purple blossoms on the columbine only just stopped, they were gorgeous this year!  The spring got warm early and then we turned hot and dry and the bleeding heart didn't like it this year, it faded early and the greenery is already dying out; usually it lasts until the end of August but not this year.

And in the background to the left of the hydrangea, you can see the only survivor of three artimesias I planted in the north bed a couple of years ago.  It is much happier in this hot and sunny spot than in the north lot line; the other two just faded away and did not reappear last year.  On the right is a hybrid double mini-day lily that is a luscious peach-pink color; the last of the blooms fell a few weeks ago.  I am hoping it will survive the winter and give me a good crop of blooms next season.

And what Milwaukee garden would be complete without the common old-fashioned day lily:


This is a shot from the east garden bed; you can see a Rose of Sharon to the left and some volunteer Queen Anne's Lace peeking up.  The day lilies are just nutso blossoming this year!

More coming - promise!  I want to show you what progress I've made in the kitchen, as well as visiting my Shezebo and its current accoutrements :)

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