Friday, December 19, 2014

Black Garlic

A friend of mine generously gave me a package of black garlic from Trader Joes.  The entire garlic bulb is slow-cooked (for at least a month) and produces cloves that are soft like roasted garlic.  The color is a deep dark brown: the color you'd expect from the inside of a vanilla bean or very good dark chocolate.

I finally tried a bit of it yesterday, and the flavor has notes that struck me as similar to balsamic vinegar - particularly the thicker and not quite so acidic Aceto Balsasmico de Modena, not exactly the stuff that was ubiquitous in the '90s.

I ended up putting a clove in with spinach and a bunch of fresh garlic that I'd sliced and browned in olive oil.  Rather tasty.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Missing things from my youth

I'm missing a few foods from my youth that are no longer made, or at least that I can no longer find.

Weaver Chicken Roll.  One of the things Grandma always had in the fridge when I was there for lunch.  Discontinued long ago, I know, I went hunting a while back.  The Thumann's chicken roll is no substitute for this, the flavor and texture is all wrong.  We'd have a few slices of WCR on 2 slices of Wonder bread (which is back in prodction), with Hellman's mayonnaise and a slice of yellow American cheese.  I think that Grandma usually got deli sliced cheese when she got the cold cuts, though I could have a flawed memory and it could have been a Kraft "cheese" single which is what we always had in the fridge at home (though Mom always got the white singles).

Weaver Chicken Croquettes.  I was hoping to stop at the store and pick this up for dinner tonight, but discovered this is also discontinued after Tyson bought the company.  I might try the Goya chicken croquettes, but the shape is all different, and they don't come with the small tubs of light yellow gravy.  I love croquettes SO much, but honestly, I don't feel like going through the hassle of making homemade ones tonight, so I may end up heating up some of the Tyson chicken patties I already have in the freezer, and drown them with some poultry gravy.

Iced Spice Cookies.  Grandma always had these on hand too.  They were brown, about 3" across and about 1/8" thick -  roughly flower-shaped, with a small hole in the middle, and a sheen of white glaze.  Not soft, but not super crispy either.  Very spicy with clove, cinnamon, and ginger flavors.

I guess it's because the holidays are coming up and I miss Grandma that the chicken roll and cookies popped into my brain after I looked up the croquettes...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fall Cleanup on Aisle 4

On Saturday, we gathered up a bunch of the leaves in the backyard, as well as the leaves that the neighbor in the rear was going to put out at his curbside.  Of course, this was Mr. You-need-to-use-chemicals-on-the-lawn, and he couldn't figure out why I would want his leaves... "They'll sour the soil" he said. 

I've learned to disregard most of what he says on the topic of gardening and lawn care.
We piled up the leaves and I (hubby disappeared into the house) proceeded to run over them with the mower, tossing each bag of chopped leaves up into the main bed of the veggie garden. right up to the top of the concrete block .  So, we now have a 3-4 inch deep layer of chopped leaves on top of the dirt.  I also scattered eggshells I'd been saving all over the bed before topping it off with the leaves.

I have no idea where this myth of leaves "souring" the soil came from. Everything I have been reading indicates that chopped up autumn leaves is an excellent mulch.  There are two blogs I peruse quite often that have wisdom on this topic.  Their gardens are GORGEOUS.

Kevin Jacobs at A Garden for the House says "No room on your property for a big pile of leaves? Then shred the material, just as I do. Shredded leaves can be used immediately. You can till them into the soil, or, if you have a no-till policy (like me), just dump them onto your garden beds as mulch." Take a look at these links for where he uses these shredded leaves:

Margaret Roach at A Way To Garden says "LEAVES make great leaf mold when composted to add organic matter to beds. Maybe start a leaves-only compost pile, and use the proceeds as mulch next year? Running over dry leaves (and other dry non-woody material) with the mower to shred will reduce the area needed, and speed its breakdown."

Take a look at this video from Fine Gardening magazine.   The short article that accompanies it states "A two- to three-inch layer of leaves spread over a garden plot gives several benefits. Leaves hold down weed growth, add organic matter, and protect garden soil from compaction caused by rainfall."

Here's another article that says "Leaves can be used alone as a mulch but tend to blow away in windy locations and can be washed from beds during heavy rain showers. Leaves do best as a mulching material when they’re shredded. Non-shredded leaves and grass clippings can form a thick mat that makes water penetration nearly impossible.  If you don’t have a shredder, don’t worry. Leaves can be shredded using the lawn mower."

Even the Scott's fertilizer company endorses mulching leaves into the lawn, though you won't catch me using any of their products on my grass & weeds.  I ran over whatever leaves were left on the lawn with the mulching mower.

I'll follow up on this experiment in the spring.

In other news, on Sunday I finally dug up those calla lily tubers and put them, the gladiolus corms, and amarylis pots to bed in the basement.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Winter is coming?

Tomorrow I'll be saying "Winter is here."  The temperature is predicted to drop from mid-60's to mid-40's.  There are some last minute gardening chores to be done (yeah, those callas haven't gotten dug up yet), but I'll be pretty much done with the outdoors until the February thaw - hence the name change on the blog.  I'm making lots of soup already!

Mind you, this is a rough stab at the recipe, as I make soup the old-fashioned Grandma Konecko way - I taste it as I go and adjust as needed.

Chicken Soup

For the base:
  • Roasted chicken bones (I recently used a 3 lbs pack of chicken backs, which I was very happy to find.  I often use saved bones left over from spatchcocking whole birds, but it takes a whle for me to get enough for a pot of soup)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock/broth/water
  • 12 whole peppercorns
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 medium yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, broken into pieces
  • 2 carrots, broken into pieces
  • 4 whole sprigs fresh dill
  • kosher salt to taste
Simmer together for a couple hours, then strain out all of the solids - return the stock to the pot

To finish:
  • chicken meat (I pick it off the roasted bones, but you can use about 1/2 lb chopped cooked breast/thigh meat)
  • 2 more stalks of celery and 2 more carrots, chopped relatively small 
  • a few handfuls of egg noodles, fillini, or other pasta
  • kosher salt to taste
  • a sprig or two of dill, chopped (leaves only)
Cook the celery and carrots until they begin to soften, add chicken, and noodles (my husband likes "homestyle" where the broth gets a little starchy - Mom and I always made the noodles separate and added later).  Finish with some fresh dill after taking off the heat.

Monday, November 3, 2014

First Frost

Undeniably, the wheel of the year rolls around.  The cars had a light coating of frost this morning. 

I pulled up my gladiolus bulbs a couple weeks ago, they're all cured and ready to have the tops lopped off to make their trip down to the basement tonight.  The amaryllis are heading down too.  I have to dig up a lot of calla lilies this weekend - the foliage has started to yellow, it is time.

Daylight savings time (what a hoax) is finally over.  It is nice to see the sun up before 7 PM, but I fear the time is coming when sun will not be up by the time I get home.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Out of the garden and into the kitchen

The gardening is pretty much done for the year - there are a couple late season tomatoes hanging out which need to be rescued from greedy chipmunks; maybe some cleanup of beds and mulching of leaves - but for the most part the hard work is all done for now.

This time of year, as the weather turns cooler, becomes the season of soups and stews.  Already I have in my mind that I will be making French onion soup, Yankee pot roast, and pasta sauce in the near future.  Chicken soup comes when I've got a decently sized bag of bones, and turkey soup follows Thanksgiving when I get at least one entire picked-over carcass.  Beef barley is another staple.  A batch of pea soup is usually shared with my mom and mother-in-law - Broccoli Boy won't eat it, and I can't make a tiny batch with a big bone from the Christmas ham. 

Unfortunately, none but maybe the pasta sauce will contain home-grown vegetables since all I grew was asparagus and tomatoes this year.

I hate wasting food - it's almost pathological the lengths to which I will go to use up every single bit of food before it goes bad.  I've got a bit of pumpkin and coconut milk left over from making a yummy garam masala-spiced winter squash soup with a kabocha and some canned pumpkin (the small kabocha I had only made 2 cups of roasted squash), so maybe I'll turn that into a quick pumpkin curry soup.  This BB will probably eat because he likes my brother's pumpkin curry soup.  I do have some heavy cream in the fridge too, so we'll see how that comes out.

I've also some shallots that started sprouting and need to be used, I think I'll just saute those up and serve with a steak.

Monday, October 27, 2014

from the mind's eye into the real world

We did some trance journeying this weekend while at Harvest Nights, and I wonder if I would be able to get the images out of my head onto canvas or paper.  I haven't done any 2D art in a long time and I don't know if it's something I can translate from brainwaves into some sort of media.

I would also be interested in finding out if Luke and Mel, who went journeying with me, were to do the same thing, would they have images that look like mine?

Here are some pictures I found on the interwebz that kinda look like what I was seeing on the journey:




Monday, October 20, 2014


Went outside to dig in the dirt, and didn't injure myself.

Near the daffodils & grape hyacinths that give early color, I wanted something that blooms a bit later since that bed looks a bit bare after the irises have finished their show by June.  So, I ordered some alliums that bloom in July-August.  It's a work in progress to get 3 seasons of blooms in there.  The fall-blooming "Autumn Daffodils" aren't doing as well as hoped.

Planted 50 Nodding Onions

and 25 Drumstick

Friday, October 17, 2014

Last shipment

My shipment of allium bulbs from John Scheepers came in yesterday.  I'll have to fight the still-twinging-but-healing ankle, and a rather sore shoulder (I apparently slept with my arm up over my head overnight) to get these babies in this weekend, but it's something I've got to do!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The klutz strikes again

No, it was not a bid to get Broccoli Boy to help me out in the garden... but he had to because I sprained my ankle stepping off the curb after weeding about 20 thistles out of the curbside bed...

...but not before I planted bulbs I had ordered from Brecks in a moment of weakness this summer

10 Decoy daffodil

12 Hardy gladiolus mixture

and a bunch of red & white poppy anemone in complementing colors (sorry, I don't have a picture or link of what those are supposed to look like).  I couldn't tell which way was up, so I planted them sideways.

Hubby also helped me (pre-injury) to move one of my red Drift roses out from under purple beautyberry shrubs that have gotten much bigger in maturity than I expected.  I decided we can't do more than one in day, it was TOUGH to move that sucker.  Two more to go.  I pruned off quite a bit of dead wood and re-buried it in the new spot I made for it about 2 feet forward of where it had been.  Hubby watered it in since I couldn't post-injury.  We're supposed to have rain for a couple days, so I have high hopes that the rose will survive having been shaded most of the year.

The beautyberry shrubs are lush and loaded with purple berries.  We were both shaking little purple spheres out of our rose gauntlets afterwards.  He also found one in his ear.

My ankle better be feeling better soon, because there's tender calla lilies and gladiolus to dig up, leaves to rake, and thistles to pull up before they get away with murder.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Not for me, but for my Eureka Tetragon 5 dome tent that had served me well for many, many seasons.  The nylon was sprouting holes in multiple places, the seam tape on the inside floor was threatening to trip me, and the poles had seen better days.  The nylon bags were blowing out at their seams.

I could have possibly squeezed another season or so out of it, but it's the right time of the year for sales and I'd been eyeballing a cabin tent for a while now.

Checking the sales, I went with a Coleman Signature Instant 6 over at Cabela's, with the current sale + $5 promo code shipping it was still nearly $18 less than Amazon Prime, and about $45 less than my favorite camping mecca Campmor.  I was thinking about getting another Eureka, but the one that was most similar to the Coleman was over $400.

Anyone need a 3 man dome tent?  I have a Kelty that I'd picked up years ago before I got the Eureka.  It's in much better condition than its successor, as I did not use it nearly as often.  It's in an old folding chair bag since I had lost the original nylon bag.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

If you plant it, they will come

Spotted a monarch butterfly on my milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) on Sunday.  Hubby said "you sure it's not one of those impersonators?"  Nope, not a viceroy, totally a monarch - and I planted those butterfly weeds just for them.  I'm hoping to spot some caterpillars and cocoons soon!!

The only bad thing is only 4 of the umpteen roots I put in last fall grew into anything this spring.  Horrible, horrible cold winter!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Innovation = ripping off Star Trek?

A tricorder?

I rock at Plant ID! (sometimes)

Saw these on the banks of the Hudson River in Hoboken. 

Looked up "yellow flower shrub" on Google and... it's a Hypericum a.k.a St. John's Wort
I think I want some for filling in the wildflower bed that I'm working on solarizing.  Maybe interspersed with some forsythia for early spring yellow & something that gets brilliant yellow foliage in the autumn?

Monday, June 23, 2014

I'm a slacker

Everybody needs to slack off every once in a while.  Unfortunately, I'm making a career of it.  Sunday was pretty much a lost day.

At least my husband convinced me to go out of doors on Saturday and do some extremely-much-needed weeding in the veggie bed.  Found a couple volunteer tomatoes up behind where they were last year, so I decided to stake & fertilize them and see what they do.  Spent some time in the hammock before I lost all the shade, and then napped in a chair next to the shed under my least favorite tree (some sort of scruffy looking evergreen).

The inside of my house is very much neglected lately.  Need to find some energy on weeknights and just do a little bit at a time, because by the time I get to the weekend I either want to garden or completely slack off.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Investment in the future

I just bought a bunch of Victorian/Steampunk costume patterns on Etsy for something to do during the winter months. :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June already?

I haven't really touched the (10' x 40' ?) wildflower slope recently.  It currently has lots of maple seedlings in it thanks to our neighbor's very prolific tree.  The plan is to solarize this and/or cover with newspaper and cardboard, and then restart with some bulbs and perennials, with a couple annuals for color.  The reason being that the wildflower bed looks good in June, but pretty much ONLY June.  It was a fun experiment, but only one season of interest is not what I want.

It's a somewhat steep slope, so hard to work on, but I have to pull all of the maple and shrub seedlings out so that I can smother the weeds/wildflowers.  ESPECIALLY the Chinese forget-me-not which, while a favorite of the bees, took over the bed.  In fall it produces some nasty little seed pods that stick to hair (shirts, shorts, socks...) worse than Velcro.

What do I intend to plant in that bed once I've gotten the wildflowers under control?  Probably divisions of a bunch of stuff I already have.  Currently in the fridge are some daylily seeds we collected last year, I'm attempting stratification & germination.  I've also got many old marigold seeds hanging out in the shed, even if I get a small germination rate I'll still have quite a few plants.  I can certainly divide daylilies, irises, echinacea, yarrow, bee balm, and liriope.  I've got a lot of grape hyacinth bulbs that I can dig up and move over, and maybe I'll also move some of the daffodils & hyacinths over there as well.  The wildflower bed arguably has some of the best soil on our property since we put about 4" of composted leaf mulch on top of newspaper and cardboard back when I was killing off the grass that was previously growing on that slope.

Perhaps I'll also root some more boxwood cuttings and put them up along the top edge along the neighbor's retaining wall, edge, and then just keep them trimmed about even with the top so that his landscaping company doesn't hack at the backside of them like they did my beautyberry shrubs.  Another advantage here is that it'll keep the top of the slope shaded so I don't get as much stubborn grass trying to grow up along the edge of the wall.

The other beds are doing well, just need to do some weeding, which will be a regular chore through the rest of the summer and fall.  The tomato plants (that didn't get eaten - GRRrrrr!) are doing well, as is the pepper plant.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Funny how things work out

I just completed a re-reading of Elizabeth Haydon's Symphony of Ages series up through the 7th book "The Assassin King" (published 2009), which ended with a bit of a cliffhanger.  I wandered over to Amazon to see if she'd ever written the next book, and it turns out she did - it comes out on 06/03/14.  She must have taken notes from George R. R. Martin... 5 years of waiting!!

One of my favorite quotes from the first book contains really good advice for the current situation at my company:  “Second, and far more important: tuck your chin. You're going to get hurt, so expect it and be ready. You may as well see it coming.” Elizabeth Haydon, Rhapsody: Child of Blood

Monday, May 12, 2014


Instead of borrowing my neighbor's rototiller, we tilled a 10 foot veggie garden row with a broadfork and hoe.  I've now got a good full body ache from my shoulders to my knees.

Aleve is doing very little to help, I suppose I've just got to wait for my muscles to repair and grow stronger.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Time and effort

Q:  Why do I spend so much time and effort in the garden now, as I creep up on my 40th birthday? 

A:  So that I won't have to spend so much time and effort in the garden later, as I creep up on later birthdays.

I'm working on layering my beds with enough foliage to keep out all but the most stalwart weeds, and I look forward to the time when a weekend can be spent idly looking at what I have wrought, rather than working.  Work in progress.  This is only year 5, and some of the beds I am working in were not beds when we moved in.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Everything's a little late

Irises, which were opening on May 1 a year or two ago, are still just starting to bud.  I may get some blooms in a week, we'll see.  I do have to make sure I mark which color is which since I have some freebies that folks have given me over the years - right now the only ones I can share are the blue ones because I know which ones they are.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Opuntia humifusa redux

So last year I got these Eastern prickly pear pads which I stuck in a pot and Voila! they sprouted roots and grew.  The pot looked like cactus Stonehenge.  They went totally floppy over the winter, sagging over the edge of their pot.  But, as the days grew warmer and warmer, they perked up again.

I decided that I wanted to repot them with some other succulents into some more artistic arrangements, so I trucked up my long planters from the curbside, put nice new potting soil (Espoma brand, even though it's more expensive than Miracle Gro.  The Scotts/Miracle Gro company can suck it amended with extra perlite.  I dug up the sempervivums (hens & chicks) I'd overwintered between two of the rose bushes, and pulled up some sedum (angelina) from the bed where it's growing like wildfire, and made some pretty arrangements to brighten up the curbside.

The gloves I was wearing were totally inadequate to protect me from the nasty little barbed glochids on the edges of the firm green pads, and I spent quite a bit of time in the bathroom with tweezers and duct tape pulling the damn things out after finishing my repotting.  Even with that, I missed some.  So much fun - NOT.  At least the roses warn me ahead of time with showy 1/2" long thorns.

Monday, April 21, 2014

European wild ginger

During my nursery crawl a couple weeks ago, I found these at one of my favorite nurseries - Ambleside Gardens in Hillsborough NJ (, and like the crazy woman I am, I picked up three.

I'd been on the lookout for wild ginger, though and they're rare as hen's teeth to find at any of the nurseries, so I pounced despite the price tag (which I only noticed when I got to the register, actually).  Not cheap by any means - a single 4" pot was $14, which is usually what I'd be paying for a quart or even gallon pot of something more common.

Yeah, it's not the native Asarum canadense, but I like the shiny dark green that's reminicent of English Ivy, without being invasive like ivy, better than the more matte and lighter green Canadian wild ginger.  Though, if I spot some I will get it, too.  I have a lot of shady understory to populate, after all.

When last I checked, they were still alive through the nightly frosts, unlike the two sweet potato vines I picked up that same weekend - hey, it was nearly 80 degrees out!!  Silly me, thinking winter had finally given up the fight.  After this morning's frost, however, I'm confident that the temperature will stay above 40 at night from now on - or at least through the current week's forecast. :P

And yes, I lied about this being the year I didn't buy any plants.  Winter was so brutal that I needed some retail therapy to keep myself sane.

Friday, April 11, 2014


While planting pansies yesterday afternoon, I caught a glimpse of a honeybee visiting my squills, and a big ol' bumble (or mason - didn't get a good look at it) bee was looking at my crocuses when BB got home from work. 

Spring has indeed sprung.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting ready for the very first spring harvest

I am eagerly anticipating my first harvest from the thicket of asparagus crowns I have growing on the top tier of my vegetable garden. 

I'm also hoping to be able to harvest a handful of fiddleheads from the ostrich ferns growing on the side of the house - native AND edible.  Might have to plant a few more of those - I planted 3 in Fall 2012 and in 2013 only 2 came up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On obsessive behavior

It is just a bit sad that most of my work day is spent daydreaming about gardening?  Even though said activity kicks my flabby ass and causes the consumption of mass quantities of ibuprofen & Salonpas patches for days afterwards? 

Truly, I am more obssessed with getting my hands in the dirt, green things, and bugs than I was in planning any part of our wedding - which was an awesome party with all sorts of FLOWERS! 

The obsession increases each day and night that the temperature stays above freezing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Round's a shape

I finally got out into the garden for the first time in what feels like forever, and after three hours I was capital D done.  My endurance is shot, and I'm totally out of shape.

I did manage to prune the roses back, pulled a couple weeds, planted trilliums, and hacked down the old asparagus growth in anticipation of my very first harvest.  The asparagus has been allowed to grow over three summers, I am anticipating a lovely harvest - which reminds me, I need to pick up a couple bags of poop at Agway. :)

So, what do I do about the winter induced malaise?  Well, this morning was nice enough for a mile-plus stroll along the Hudson River waterfront before work, I'm glad to say.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Can't Wait!!

Waiting for the photo studio to post the pictures of our wedding is killing me.  How did people ever wait weeks for proofs to be available, and then months for the finals to come back?

I also can't wait to get out into the garden.  There are spots that I'll have to leave alone to avoid compacting soft earth into brick, but I can definitely start pruning the roses along the driveway, and doing cleanup along the walkways.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Garden Girl is now Mrs. Broccoli Boy

So, we got hitched over the weekend.  Yes, I know, "pics or it didn't happen" - I'll work on that, OK?

We're running about a month behind in the garden.  Crocuses and winter aconite are just starting their bloom.  Daffodils and hyacinths are poking up greens.   Will get the camera out this weekend and see what I can catch in bloom.

That Japanese maple I was worried for may yet make it.  I have to make sure to put some sort of sealer in the crack and put some screws in so that the split doesn't get worse, but it doesn't look as bad as it did when the snow was still weighing the branches down.

I held off pruning the roses until after the wedding so that they wouldn't turn me into a mess of bloody scratches - those things can get through even thick leather gloves!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Can I tell you I'd rather be out there gardening than anything else, but that it's far too cold to do so?  I hear tell there's supposed to be a nor'easter starting this afternoon with 1-3" of snow overnight.

Oh, and the forecast has 70% chance of rain on our wedding day.

Monday, March 24, 2014


There's still time to run, right?  KIDDING!  It's totally the last thing I'd want to do at this point.

Everything is falling in place, and it's going to be an AWESOME wedding!  Even if things don't go off exactly how I've envisioned, it will still be AWESOME because friends and family will be gathering together to celebrate our marriage, and that's the important part.

And the folks at work threw me a surprise bridal shower... totally surprised!  I hate surprise parties.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Trying SO hard not to be a Bridezilla, but I find that I'm getting rather anxious about small details that are not within my direct control.  If you have to deal with me at all within the next week and a half, please be patient with me.  It'll all be OK come noontime on the 29th.

Monday, March 17, 2014


12 is the number of times I went up and down the stairs to carry some disassembled furniture from Gene's office into the basement.  My knees HATE me.

12 is also the number of days until we get married.  The favors are done, all of the vendors are lined up - just have to finalize a few things with the officiant, DJ, and the venue.  We've got a beautiful guest book (thanks Barbara!) and the bird cage for cards (thanks Joan!), and the onerous task of peeling stupid UPC symbols off of 120 bubble bottles is nearly done (thanks Oriental Traders for putting your labels in the WORST places).

Thursday, March 13, 2014


16 is the day on which I discovered I was extremely wise in wearing my "portable comforter" and saw the inside of the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street in Manhattan for the first time.  Not for the first or last time, NJ Transit receives my ire for not having a satisfactory response to service outages on the RVL.

The 1st degree burn I got on my hand the other day from the oven rack looks much more red in contrast to my pasty white skin, but it is not infected.  Maybe it will heal up by the time I get married.  I can hope, anyway.


"When I was seventeen, it was a very good year..."
"She's only seventeen.  Daddy says she's too young, but she's old enough for me..."
"She was just seventeen, if you know what I mean..."
"All alone on the edge of seventeen..."
"You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen..."

It's also the number of days left until I no longer check the "single" box on a form.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tree surgeon

BB took a photo of my dwarf laceleaf Japanese maple in front of the living room bay window, and it looks like the winter snows have split the trunk.  Can't get to it yet, but when the snows recede, I will try to do a bit of surgery on it to possibly save it.

If not, I may replace with a different shrub or dwarf tree, because this is not a low-maintence plant - the edges of the leaves on this one get very crispy looking in the summer, even if we have enough rain.  Maybe a red twigged dogwood (which Rutgers says is only occasionally damaged by deer), a gingko, or a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick.

If the tree is unrecoverable, I may re-envision the whole bed altogether - the edge along the walkway is in shade from the cherry tree, but the rest is in full south sun.  There had been a water feature in the center of a rocky oblong, which they replaced with the Japanese maple.  That rocky area is edged with azaleas, spruce, and a boxwood along the house.  The shady part has hostas (deer salad), along with lungwort and primroses that I added.  

If I take all the rocks out, I can totally re-do the whole area.  I'm sure I have enough plant material around the yard to make a good show of it, and BB's co-worker is always willing to divide a few things for me. BB hates the blue spruce shrubs, as they are seriously prickly.  I cut the azaleas way back last year as they were overgrown and I couldn't open the living room windows.

Monday, March 3, 2014

T-minus 26 days and counting...

Oh good heavens, it's getting CLOSE.  We're applying for our marriage license on Friday - THIS COMING FRIDAY.  I gotta get the favors and bubbles finished & start nagging non-RSVP relatives, not necessarily in that order.  My dress is home, sheet-covered and hanging in the disused half-bath off the master bedroom.  My veil was torn when I was there last week, so I pick up the replacement tomorrow.

Screw it if the house doesn't get cleaned before Aunt D. comes over to get her hair done the morning of the wedding.  Been feeling like crap three weekends in a row, and she'll just have to deal with it.  Mom offered to help, so I'm doing my best to get the clutter put away so that we can just clean, because the sorting of stuff takes too damned long.  Was hoping to paint the kitchen, but that shit'll really have to wait.  We did get the Christmas tree put away, finally.

The official start of Spring is a week before the wedding, I'm hoping the "out like a Lamb" really applies.  Honestly, I can deal with anything Skadi / Cailleach / [insert wintery diety name here] wants to throw at me up until the 21st.  After that, Lords and Ladies, please lay off Winter, even if it's just until April 1.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's days like this I wonder if Spring will ever come

We had another 2-3" predicted for today.  There is easily over three feet of snow over most of my beds at this point, it's hard to believe that anything will come up in the spring at all, but I'm pretty hopeful that the cold will not have harmed anything but pests. 

I'm terribly eager to get out and start digging.  However, I just chucked a bunch of plant catalogs in this morning's recycle pickup because this is the Year of Gardening Austerity*, though I have to say that it's VERY tempting to buy hundreds of dollars worth of plants whose placement would be rather subject to what survives through the Extremely Cold and Snowy Winter of 2013/2014.

The Year of Gardening Austerity is thusly named not because we're spending a lot on our March wedding (first and only for both of us), but because I want to find out how much I have learned about propagation.  Many of my plants are at the stage of life where division will be necessary for continued health and beauty.  I'm also ready to try my hand at sticking cuttings of my dwarf shrubs: spirea 'Golden Elf' and weigela "My Monet" which have done quite well but look lonely as single specimens.  I also have a bunch of daylily seeds we saved - it should be interesting to see what sorts of hybrids we ended up with.  Bearberry looks like it'd be easy to layer.

My Red Drift carpet roses are screaming for a move from under the purple beautyberries which have grown bigger and better than I'd expected.  I still have to decide where they're going - they've got to go somewhere that is low traffic not because they can't handle a trampling (they can), but because they're anklebiters.  I can't get to them right now to start the process which starts with me pruning them way back, and then scoring around them with a spade to trim the roots so that I am not transporting a rootball the size of Rhode Island around my backyard.

I'm also looking forward to doing more work on the new shade beds behind the shed, to give my neighbors something to look at other than a big blank wall.  I put two plugs of ornamental grass back there last year after Broccoli Boy helped me dig up a huge clump of it from the front walk bed (I replaced it with a magenta mondarda (bee balm) - which the bees really do like) - they were doing well in autumn, we'll see (next month, maybe) if they made it through the winter.

In other news, the winter has shown us a lot of fauna that we normally don't see.  Birds like dark eyed juncos; and what I think is some sort of black and white warbler or perhaps a downy woodpecker; have been spotted at the feeder.  BB spotted what is probably a red bellied woodpecker, but I wasn't home to see it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Yeah, there must be a garden under there somewhere...

The bittercress is lurking under a thick blanket of snow, getting ready to seed on me as soon as it melts, I'm sure.  I haven't gotten a chance to clean up the asparagus bed either.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Princess for a Day

I get to wear a sparkly gown, a teeny-tiny tiara; and have my hair and makeup done by a professional;

Such a departure from my normal everyday self, it's a good thing that a photographer has been hired to get pictures because no one would believe me otherwise.

Broccoli Boy cleans up nice too.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My adventure with Japanese mushrooms

I'd gotten some bunashimeji (brown beech) mushrooms among others at H-Mart about a week or so ago.  I tried cooking up the cute little bunashimeji in some sesame oil and scallions, and it initially smelled good.  Then an odd smell started coming up as the mushrooms cooked - I tasted one and there was an off flavor to it too.  Even the addition of some soy sauce did not improve the flavor.  Into the trash it went, which annoys me - anyone who knows me knows I do not throw food away unless it's utterly inedible.

They didn't seem to be rotten in any way, no sliminess or bad smell in raw state.  The information I found says that they should last up to 10 days in the fridge, and I prepared them within that time.  I guess I just found a mushroom I don't like.  I did like the maitake ("dancing mushroom", hen of the woods) mushrooms I made the other day with steak even if I oversalted them.  Maitake are supposed to be quite good for the immune system.

Bunapi shimeji (white beech) was good in soup - which is odd because it's pretty much the same mushroom as bunashimeji, just as white button mushrooms, baby bella/crimini, and portobello mushrooms are the same species

Also yummy:  Enoki; Eryngii (King Trumpet, King Oyster) though Broccoli Boy was less than thrilled; and my much beloved Shitake.

Monday, January 13, 2014

And the people want:


It's been less than a week since the wedding invites went out in the mail, and the RSVP's have already started trickling in.  Over 90% that have come in have requested the sirloin with au jus over the chicken picatta or vegetarian meals.

Having been to a tasting, I thought the beef was good, but I liked the chicken better. This is a bit odd to me because I normally do not like white meat chicken due to its texture.  It could be the "JUICIEST" chicken breast ever, but there's something about the way it feels between my teeth as I chew it...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Herbs & Spices for Diabetes

Well, lessee, I've got fresh ginger, dried American ginseng, quite a bit of ground tumeric, and Szcheuan peppercorns readily available in the house.

Fenugreek looks like exactly what I need to help with my elevated cholesterol/triglycerides/liver enzymes which I do not want to take statins for.  Wonder if I can find some fresh leaves instead of just the seeds...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Can this day move any slower?

I have an hour left to go in the day, and the hands on the clock are going backwards.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


... our impending wedding seems to be much more REAL now that I've sent out the first batch of invites