This "Snow Queen" oak leaf hydrangea that I planted in September of 2005 is really putting on a show this year. Over the course of the last 2 weeks it's been a lot of fun to watch the progress.
I decided I needed my very own oak leaf hydrangea after seeing one on a garden tour years ago. Somehow, this turned out to be the perfect spot and the plant has done exactly what I wanted it to do. I can not believe that it has almost been 10 years since we moved in here and I started a new garden. I guess it's time to stop saying "the new house".
I pulled the garden journal down tonight to help me remember the proper name for the oak leaf hydrangea. It was so small when I planted it. I of course had to look at the whole journal and then run downstairs and show it to Chris too. There has been no documentation of any garden activity for 3-4 years now, but boy I am glad I captured the very beginnings. I think a 10 year update will be in order this summer so in 2025 I can look back again with as much fun as I've had tonight.
I recently had to pull out the crash cart and do some life saving maneuvers on the succulents I wintered over inside the house this year.
These droopy, floppy, bolting, sparse-looking pots needed some help. Help in the form of some new blood.
These are the re-invigorators. That's not a word but you know what I mean. They are going to energize and transform the front porch succulent pots. I think.
What was pulled out of the pots was put into a temporary plant ICU on the back deck where they will be subjected to light therapy. It will either heal them or kill them. An act of mercy either way.
Chapter one: The beginning. I'll let you know how it goes.
Meanwhile, out back, there has already been a visitor to the light therapy unit.
He looks harmless. Don't be fooled.
Here are my carefully chosen selections from the market this week.
That beautiful green leaf lettuce got turned into a fried chicken salad on Saturday night.
These radishes were a total impulse buy. They looked so pretty all grouped together. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but I solved that problem handily.
This is a new savory way to enjoy toast for breakfast with an over easy egg and a side of bacon. Toasted "country french" bread topped with pesto, sliced radishes and sea salt. Oh so good. I am usually a sweet topping on the toast kind of person, this may have reformed me.
I like observing other shoppers for good ideas. When I need a cane, I am going to remember this smart lady using a roller bag for her purchases. I also saw an extremely well behaved pup and a little girl getting started on the road to a life-long love of gardening.
Her mom was schooling her in how to choose a healthy plant. I liked her polka dot pedal pushers.
This mix of 3 types of kale looked intriguing. Almost as interesting as the Jamaican Jungle juice. I wanted to see what it looked like but I didn't want to ask.
Next week I will hide out in the plants across the way and watch to see if anyone gets one, then I can gauge their reaction and decide if it's something I NEED to sample.
There were strawberries at the market on Saturday. So I bought a basket. I ate some for breakfast and added some to my afternoon cocktail on Saturday and Sunday and Monday. A 3-day weekend calls for daily cocktails.
Because they were so pretty, and because my sister instagrammed the ones she was drawing, I decided I would draw some too.
I drew them standing up, lying on the side, and while looking at them from the top.
They don't look the same as my sister's strawberries. I am pretty sure that's because she was drawing California strawberries and I was drawing Kansas strawberries.
If you decide to draw some, I suggest when you are done, you dip them in creme fraiche (or sour cream or Greek yogurt) and pop them in your mouth and eat them. A sprinkling of brown sugar is optional.
Especially for Memorial Day I present you with peonies. Double or single petal, creamy white with crimson flecks, rosy pink with lemon cream collars, fuschia with deep yellow staminodes, blushing pink, fully open or buds. All beautiful. They fill the area around the dining room table with the scent of spring.
I just read tonight that if you want to plant them it's best to do it in the fall. I will be searching between now and then for the best place to buy just the right ones for a spot in my garden. It think it would be best to buy local but I found a special peony nursery in Canada that it will be hard not to buy something from. I have been having the best time reviewing their catalogue.
My plans for this summer include making as many new salads with kale and quinoa (separately and together) as possible.
Would you have thought of putting dill and dried cherries together in a salad? Me neither. Luckily Deb from Smitten Kitchen is adventurous. I put my trust in her unbeaten track record of success when I selected her recipe for kale and quinoa salad with ricotta salata.
I only made 2 detours from the recipe.
#1. I used sliced almonds instead of slivered, and I toasted them in a skillet with some sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper - so they would be spicy/sweet in addition to crunchy.
#2. I did not have any ricotta salata so I used aged peccorino romano. The first time I ate it I threw a little goat cheese on too. It was good, but took over the flavor of the salad so I left well enough alone thereafter.
Once again, I LOVE the way you can make a salad with kale on Sunday and eat the last of it on Thursday and it's equally delicious both nights. For this salad I did not add the dressing or the nuts until I served it each night.
You knew I would keep going back until I saw this.
I don't know if baby geese are cuter than baby goats OR if baby goats are cuter than baby geese. But I do, for a fact, know that they are both much cuter than the snakes a little boy out there was quite excited to point out to me.
I am pretty sure I heard the line leader call out to me to come back anytime as they paddled away. I hope you like watching baby geese grow up as much as I do. Next photo shoot: flying lessons.
Scenes from the Japanese Friendship Garden at 1045 Massachusetts street in downtown Lawrence. In the almost 15 years it has been here, I had never explored it before this week.
There is a lovely spot for sitting. And thinking. There is never enough time for uninterrupted thinking. Today at work I passed a girl in the hall. She was maybe 10 years old and wearing a bow at a jaunty angle on the side of her head. I stopped her and said "THAT is an extremely cute bow", she said "thank you", I said "if I were 40 years younger I would wear a bow exactly like that bow in my hair", she said "you are never too old to wear a bow in your hair" and she gave me a great big smile. I want to sit and think about how great it is that we live in a world with girls like that in it.
On Sunday while I was telling Mary Ann about all the reasons that I should drive out to LA and pick up Corky Lynn and bring her to Kansas to live, I drew 2 lemons on a Wedgwood plate and copied the flowers from the pattern on my purse.
Next week I may try to sketch a flower from my wallet or my old gym bag. These sorts of two dimensional elements tend to be much easier to replicate than the ones where I have to figure out where the lines go.
Now get out there and copy the pattern on your purse. And have fun while you are doing it. That's an order.
What happens when you try to take pictures of your friends after having beer, margaritas, and sangria is this: one will tell you the sun is in her eyes, one will try to get a stranger to take the photo so you can be in it (despite the fact that she knows you will not agree to this), and one of them will do every single thing you ask.
In the end, you will have a photo that will instantly bring to mind what it was like to celebrate an evening with very dear friends. We missed you Joan. Mark your calendar - next Quail event will be held on July 22nd.
P.S. In retrospect I should not have made you stand looking into the sun. I can admit when I am wrong.
I have had lemons on the brain lately. Strawberry lemonade with Chambord, lemons squeezed over fresh asparagus, and pasta with artichokes, capers and lemon. Still, my appetite for lemons remained unquenched.
So I did what any self-respecting lemon lover would do. I made lemon bars. Not just any lemon bars. I made Smitten Kitchen Whole Lemon Bars. Yes, you heard me. The whole lemon. Skin, pulp, juice, everything but the seeds.
Crispy shortbread crust. Soft, lemon-icious filling. Light dusting of powdered sugar. A perfect balance of tart and sweet held in place by that buttery crust. These are more than good. They rise up to meet your accelerated lemon craving - sometimes referred to as lemon fever. If you can't get lemons off your mind. Make them. The sooner you start the treatment, the sooner you will get relief.
On Sunday morning I happened upon a pile of gosslings on my morning walk. I could not do justice to the cuteness that they were with the iPhone so I went back today, hoping they would still be there.
When the gander started to get his dander up I backed off. I didn't want the baby geese to have to get out of their huddle before it was time.
As I left I asked what time swimming lessons started. I told them I would photograph it for them at no charge... and include extra copies of the pictures to send to the the grandparents.
They told me they already had their own goose cameraman lined up and had no need of my services. I will be adjusting my normal walking route anyway for the next several months. Just in case my presence may be required for anything.
Love was in the air yesterday at the farmers market. True love, puppy love, young love, and even kitty cat love.
I think it was the scent of peonies that induced the good vibrations. Five gallon buckets full of peonies for 2 dollars a stem certainly do it for me. And if that wasn't enough, I also found the season's first strawberries.
Bibb lettuce and strawberries are delicious on their own. But if you add some freshly grated monterrey jack cheese, a few walnuts, and a fruity vinaigrette; you've got a love match made in heaven.
I brought home my fair share of the peonies too. But you already knew that.
Have any of you read True Sisters? I can not remember for the life of me who it was that told me to read it. Was it you? It was on my "read this" list so I requested it from the library even though the reviews were not great. It's the story of immigrants from Scotland and England who came to America in the 1850's and walked (pushing handcarts) from Iowa to the valley of Great Salt Lake. It is fiction but based on actual events.
If it was you who recommended it, I thank you kindly. I had never heard one single thing about this migration of Mormons. I don't know how that's possible, but there you have it. My curiosity has been stirred up but good. I just went on-line to search for other material to read on the topic and found The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail by Wallace Stegner. I bought it with 1 click for $1.76. It's by Wallace Stegner. You know it has to be good. If any of you have read other books about this subject - do tell!
Today I took my morning walk in a beautiful rose garden. For a minute I thought I had died and gone to California. Yellow, red, pinkish/orange, peppermint striped, golden, and yellow with pink tips. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. The only thing I regret about this walk is that it's 51.6 miles from Tall Tales Headquarters.
This means it will not get into the walking rotation on a frequent basis. Luckily, I know at least 2 people who will want to go out there with me to see the roses. AND there just happens to be a coffee shop/bookstore right by the garden where they make a mean latte with an extra shot of espresso and a splash of hazelnut flavoring. Some days call for just that combination.
All I want to do is be off every day in the spring and get up early and go on walks and watch blue birds flit around in fields and then stop and pose for me in the branches of trees. That's it.
I met a man today at work who told me "you don't retire from something, you retire to something". That made sense to me. Running towards something brings a whole different picture to my mind than running away from something does.
I am going to add bluebird photography to the list of things I am going to retire to. It's going to be awhile, but I think it's a good idea to start building the list years ahead of time.
When I go to the market on Saturday mornings, my usual routine is to scout out everything before I make my purchases. It's important to see every flower there before I decide which ones want to go home with me.
Not this week. As soon as I spied these peonies I snapped a photo, walked right up, slapped down my 6 bucks, and said "that one please".
Whether that excitement is about making music, chatting with a friend, seeing a fabulous sign, watching someone count back change, or walking around with with a bag full of asparagus, lettuce, and spinach, makes me no never-mind.
It's all about being out with my people.
It's a "two for one" this week on the FaceTime Sketchtime serial thriller.
This week in the general chit-chat part of FaceTime Sketchtime we discussed how many years you can continue to bring the same clothes with you on vacation, the best method for watering trees, and how when you can't think of what to draw you should do a person (Sister) or a bird (me).
You must go here to see more clearly what sister drew today. It. Is. Priceless.
This year dragon wing begonias joined the geraniums on my front porch. My friend Joan had them last year and when I saw how well they did all summer long I made a mental note to get some. These shades of orange and pink make the perfect analogous color combination.
Coleus is always a must. Some years mine does better than others. I have learned over the years that it's best not to spend too much time trying to figure out why.
A bougainvillea for the back deck is a must. It loves the hot sun and once the blooms start, it's non-stop color all summer long. They can be hard to find around here, but I found a good one this year. The brighter the better in my book.
My hearty hibiscus is coming up from last year again. A successful return of a perennial in a pot makes up for an annual failure. Karma? Fate? I call it luck.
You may have noticed that small concrete animals figure strongly in my porch pot arrangements.
It's just a little something I learned from Angie. She got me that squirrel above from the "What-Not-Shop". I think I could be the only person in Lawrence with one. Heck maybe the whole state of Kansas.
Happy Mothers Day mom. Thanks for passing on all the important things, like the love of a garden.
Because I like to eat things like Texas White Sheetcake, Peach Crisp, Maple Bacon Biscuits, Pimento Cheese, Crab Cakes, and Marcona Almond Blondies does NOT mean that I do not just as easily appreciate a good vegan / gluten-free, 100% healthy, salad.
The Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing falls into that category. I took it for lunch last week all by itself, ate it for supper with some grilled chicken, and had a couple of bites for a midnight snack at 9pm. It is flat out delicious. How can anything that has a peanutty-soy-ginger-sesame dressing on it not be good? If you are like me, and don't have natural peanut butter on hand, Jif extra crunchy works fine.
It holds up well (stayed crunchy) for a week in the refrigerator. I added garbanzo beans to mine and I put the cashews on right before I served it each time.
If you like books and bookstores, and books about people who operate and frequent bookstores, you will like this book.
I liked the beginning, the middle, and the end of this book. It's not a mystery or a romance novel or crime fiction but it contains elements of all three. It's mostly just a story about a man who loves books. I am serving it up tonight along with a side of flowers and shells. I ate it right up. I am betting if you like to read, you will too.
This is Dianne (the one in the glasses) and Wickett.
Dianne's family has ties to the Lawrence area that go back to the 1850's. She knows a lot of people, who know a lot of people, and basically has the low down on the what to and the why for around these parts. When I mentioned recently that I was dying to see some baby goats she calmly mentioned that she may be able to hook me up.
So this week she did. Hook me up. She hooked me up big time.
It's not everyday you get to wander amongst a flock of goats.
They were as curious about me as I was about them, except I don't think they wanted to pet me and I didn't hear any of them muttering about how downright adorable I was.
When I say adorable, I do indeed mean ADORABLE.
This is one of those afternoons that will be with me for a long time. Just hanging out with the goats on a beautiful spring day in a field in Kansas. Thanks Dianne for helping me cross "go see some baby goats in a field" off my bucket list. I am still smiling as I think about it.
Tuesday morning I went from this ...
to this ...
with no fuss, and no muss. No consulting with husbands or brother-in-laws was needed. No trips to Van Liews's in Kansas City to buy a new water pump. No new caulking and sealing. It was an uncover, clean, fill, and plug in year. So I celebrated with this...
and looked at these. The allium and columbine are especially pretty right now.
All I want to drink these days are cosmos. Cosmos made with Grey Goose L'orange and Cointreau. The kind where you rub the inside of your glass ahead of time with a slice of orange making sure you rub the rim with the rind and then float a couple of big fat slices of orange right on top. It's the cure for whatever ails you if you've had a rough day, and the icing on the cake of a good day.
To be more precise the recipe is: 2 oz Grey Goose L'orange, 1 oz Cointreau, 2-3 oz of cranberry juice (I use ocean spray 100% cranberry juice) depending on how strong you like them, put it all in a shaker with ice, give it a good cha, cha, cha, and pour over ice. After you have rubbed the inside and the rim of the glass with an orange of course.
The bouquet I picked up from the farmers market this past Saturday included lilacs, allium, and stock. Any one of these flowers make a stunning arrangement on their own. In a group, they are spectacular.
In the smell department it's hard to top lilacs, but stock gives it a run for it's money. How lucky are we that nature supplies an ever-changing line up of beautiful blossoms and the fragrance to go with?
I was especially glad to see the allium in this bouquet. It's a treat to get to enjoy it both inside and out. I never cut mine because I love to look at them when I am sitting on my porch.
Thanks all you local flower growers for letting me have my cake and eat it too.
You know I love pickled cucumbers and red onions. As well as pickled red onions and cucumbers. Truth be told, anything pickled pretty much has my name on it. But when I spotted a recipe for creamy cucumber salad I was willing to consider the possibility that there were other things that could be done with cucumbers and red onions.
We had this with left-over barbeque. It would be equally delicious with hamburgers or grilled chicken. Anything you need a side dish for. It's cool, refreshing, and tart but doesn't make you squint like regular pickled cucumbers and onions. The fresh dill is amazing.
Please add links to your favorite cucumber salads. The kind your grandmother made and took to either the church picnic or funeral dinner are my absolute favorites. The more unusual sounding, the better.
Yesterday we made our first trip of the season out to Henry's Plant Farm. It's a rite of spring around here. For the great plants AND the opportunity to see Lucy and Ethel.
That's the names I gave them anyway. I loved watching the kids walk up to them nervously. They all (without exception) said "hi" to them before they attempted any petting. I think it's the universal, "I mean you no harm", greeting. Heck. I said it myself.
There were also alpaca, geese, donkeys, and a teeny pony.
But Lucy and Ethel. They were the stars. From head to toe.
When we were leaving someone had their eye on me. Someone up in the meadow. Someone I am going to need to talk to next time.
I don't want to be a ridiculous city girl who needs to pet and hug cute animals but I can't help myself.
Going to the farmers market today was one of the things that I planned to do that I did not cancel. Good thing. There was a lot going on. Spinach, bedding plants, asparagus, and happy ladies selling flowers to ladies who were happy to be buying them.
I also saw succulents, rhubarb, and carrots.
I happened upon two men that I think were hatching some kind of plot because they were talking in a covert manner. My ears perked up when I walked by but it did no good. I think they were talking in code. I walked by several times. To let them know I was on to them. I'm pretty sure they got the message.
I spotted tomatoes that must have been of the hothouse variety, along with an amazing display of hand made bags, and a wide variety of coleus.
There was lots to like today. I resisted some things, others I could not.
If you tell me you could have passed up a bag that looks like a quilt and was hand made by the nicest young woman in Lawrence I will know you are being untruthful.
In the last 7 days I took 6 pictures of things that I thought may or may not need to be reported on. In no particular order they include: The red winged black bird I caught mid song.
Flowers snipped from outside.
Strawberries and bananas with yogurt and honey that were eaten for breakfast.
A goose I made friends with.
The tulips in my yard I stood on my head and took pictures of because I thought the angle was interesting.
And the hawk I spotted overhead, gliding effortlessly on wind currents.
Happy weekend eve everyone. I have some plans for Saturday and Sunday. Loose plans. Things that may or may not get done. I like to keep it flexible just in case something unexpected pops up that might make me cancel everything I thought I wanted to do in favor of something I didn't know about.