Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Feed Me!

We peeked at the tiny nest in the Ficus this afternoon, and saw Mama Sparrow on her nest.

 
She didn't like us there, and flew away, leaving us with an excellent view of her babies.  I can see at least three fuzzy little tykes in there!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Most excellently, thank you!

The gardens on Poplar Ridge are entering their 4th season, and looking better than ever!  The extra time that I have had to spend on planting and weed control are showing, as is the fact that the continued amendments to the soil are really helping to improve the growing power!  I have finally stopped kicking myself for the back injury which slowed me down last Fall, as the garden neglect does not seem to have made a huge negative impact on the garden...just goes to show how much better it could be next year with a little more TLC this Fall!

Here is a portion of what I harvested from the garden on Monday:  Baby Lettuce and Spinach, Radishes and Asparagus.  I also picked (and ate) the first strawberry yesterday!

The flower gardens are basically on Auto-Pilot at this point.  I have spent a little bit of time moving things around and dead-heading recently.  At some point, I hope to weed well and then mulch.  It is getting closer and closer to my goal of not needing that attention, as the plantings are consuming more and more space, making space for weeds unattainable!  Right now, the peonies are displaying their full and fragrant glory. 











The Irises and Lupine are just about done.

 
This might just be a really good time to weed since it rained last night...I had better head down to the garden!

Friday, May 23, 2014

8 Days and Counting Until Summer Break!

I can feel it in the air...summer is coming!  The girls ask to eat dinner outside every day.  It is not quite dark when we tuck the girls in at night.  Everything is green and growing.

The birds are nesting everywhere:  my ficus, the tree house, the barn.  The hummingbirds are back, and Kali is determined to catch one.

I feel like the garden is at a really good place this year, despite the fact that I didn't "put it to bed" the way I'd hoped to last Fall.  Everything is planted, except for the little plants, which are going out this weekend.  I've had so much more time to attend to it, that we are able to keep up with the weeding and mulching and mowing and planting.

 
It is tree house season again.  The girls haul their lunches up their in the bucket and pulley on the weekends, and have been begging to sleep out up there.  We have a bunch of kiddos coming this weekend, so JP asked my Dad if he could get permanent steps up out there, and finish installing the railing too.

 
He got right on that job, and this morning I helped him install the grand stairway to the tree house!  It is amazing!  Even Stella runs up and down the steps.

The stairs are 10 in. deep - easier to
climb and MUCH safer!
 
I went up and cleaned house up there this morning, dusted, swept and shook out rugs and blankets.  While I was up there, I got another good look at the garden.  It's so GREEN!


We ate our dinner out on the veranda this evening (hot dogs from our favorite itinerant vendor, who has returned from his winter hiatus.)  JP started the mowing even before we returned home from Voice Lessons tonight, so the scent of fresh cut grass surrounded us.

I am looking forward to an extra day to spend together this weekend.  We are easing ourselves into Summer Break, and it will be here before you know it!



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Take a Closer Look!

What may appear to be a simple Ficus tree in front of our garage...


...is actually the home for a tiny bird!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mushroom Hunting

 
I ambled through the woods this morning, ostensibly looking for elusive morel mushrooms.  It is difficult, however, to look at the ground when the surroundings are so beautiful!  Everything is lush and verdant due to the recent rains.  Entrenched as I was, I could almost forget about the constant droning and chirping of the earth movers on the next ridge.

 
As John Muir says, "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."   Sadly, I didn't find any morels, but I found every other sort of treasure around each turn of the deer path that I followed.  I also emerged more calmed and serene than I've felt for weeks.


Try it.  Take a walk in the woods this weekend.  It will do your soul good!

This gorgeous moth was on my front door when I returned from my walk!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blah.

It is raining again today.  JP announced this morning that it was scheduled to last all day.  I was hoping to get out into the garden and do some weeding.  The last rain, followed by a couple of days of sunshine, really got the weeds growing.  I found this in my garden on Sunday and Monday this week:
 
I mean...just look at that WEED!

 
Gardening is not going to happen today, so it seems.  I have lots of other things that I SHOULD be doing:  exercising, getting out my sewing machine and doing the mending, studying for my all important Board Exams.
 
Eh.  Don't feel inspired at the moment.  Instead I'll post these pictures of my lovely flowers, which are also quite happy with the rain and sunshine.

The Clematis is doing just what it should -
beautifying this boring wall!

This Lupine makes me think of my dear friend,
M, who gave me a start of it before she moved.

How are you spending this glorious Thursday?


Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend

It is a grey and dreary morning, but I am feeling refreshed (went to bed early last night, slept well, and have already exercised) and loved.

We went out for dinner with my parents on Saturday in honor of Dad's Birthday.  We all returned here for cherry pie, ice cream and tea.

 
The girls spent a lot of time over the weekend making ingenious Mother's Day cards, and crafts.  We finally had a chance to get out the girls' summer clothes, just in time for an 80* heat wave.




This card slides open and the picture is "magically" colored!
 
On Sunday, we went to MOTHER India for lunch, and then to MOTHER Earth Nursery to buy some plants. I spent the afternoon planting my outdoor pots, moving things around in my flower beds, replanting ground cover behind the pool, and mowing the paths in the garden.

Mom and I worked out there on Friday, and now have the beans planted.  She was remarking how she couldn't do things fast any more, and worrying that she wouldn't be able to continue gardening for many more years.  I reassured her that she was allowed to slow down at this point in her life, that she did not have to be in a hurry to do things, and because of that, she should be able to keep working for a lot longer.  I feel myself aging, and so I have an inkling of what she is concerned about, and I have to keep telling myself that it is ok to slow down too. 

Lastly, Mama Hen, who raised a lovely brood of chicks last year, has become remarkably anti-social.  Every morning, she hops out of the enclosure and free-ranges all day.  She returns to the hen barge at night, but roosts up in the ceiling, away from everyone else.  She is quite tame, however, and runs up to me when I take treats to the hens, and will take snippets of veggies from my hands.  I actually think that she might be the only hen with half a brain!

I hope that all of you Mothers out there also felt truly treasured and loved yesterday, and that feeling will propel you through the end of school!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spring Veggies

Yesterday afternoon, I skimmed through several cookbooks and magazines trying to decide what to cook for dinner.  I wanted something that was 1) simple to prepare, 2) didn't heat up the kitchen, and 3) did not require unattainable ingredients.  I found a Cook's Country 30 Minute Supper recipe that almost fit the bill, and adjusted it a bit to work.  It called for Swiss Chard, but the asparagus is going gang-busters down in the garden, so I decided to substitute that.   It was delicious!

 
Quick Risotto with Chicken and Asparagus

4 cups chicken broth
1 cup Arborio rice
4 T unsalted butter
(4) 6-8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb asparagus cut into 1" pieces
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 T lemon juice

-Combine 3 cups broth, rice and 1 T butter in large glass bowl.  Cover and microwave until most of liquid is absorbed (12-14 min.)
-Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Melt 2 T butter in Dutch oven over med heat.  Add onion and asparagus and cook until onion is just browned (about 5 min.)  Add garlic and cook about 30 sec until fragrant.  Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 5 min.
-Add parcooked rice and remaining broth to pot and cook, stirring constantly until rice is tender (4-6 min.)  Off heat, stir in Parmesan, lemon juice and remaining butter and adjust seasoning if desired.

This dish truly took 30 minutes or less to prepare, and I only dirtied a cutting board, knife, bowl and 1 pot!  The best parts were that it was like a gourmet meal last night, and there were enough left-overs for JP and I for lunch today!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Busy, Busy...

We have been without internet for most of the past 3 days.  There were things I wanted to post, but wasn't able to.  Now I'm not in the blogging groove, so I'll just slap up some pics from the last week.  It's been packed full of all kinds of activities!

J participated in her first ever Science Fair!


I helped to chaperone L's 2nd Grade Field
Trip to the Zoo

My garden is going bonkers!
Blueberry Bushes

Baby Lettuces

Tiny Peas
L rubbed dandelions all over her face!
My flower beds are starting to look more
colorful too!
Bleeding Hearts, Coral Bells (Heuchera), and Mint


Jacob's Ladder and Violets

Peonies, Lupine, Primrose, Crocus Greens,
Jack-in-the-Pulpit