Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sorry Not Sorry

 Flights are arriving, cookies are baking, evenings are booking up, and I have neglected the blog! Ah, the Holidays.

In an attempt to stay well rested through the next few weeks, I took yesterday, my final Tuesday off that isn't an Eve of some sort, and did absolutely nothing. A snow day. I really should have uploaded pictures of my Christmas decorations, or of the carrot soup I made, or re potting amaryllis to help them re bloom, but no. I stayed in my pajamas, put away laundry, made pancakes for lunch, watched my Real Housewives, and never left the house once. I haven't had a snow day in years!

By 8 o'clock, however, guilt began to sink in and I got busy cleaning up the kitchen, prepping some snacks to have on hand for holiday visitors, baking cookies, cleaning stemware, and dusting the dining room. I really need to work on having a guilt-free snow day. Maybe in January.
While the snow was blowing outside, I was fortunate enough to look at this 'Christmas Story' amaryllis all day long. He's blooming just in time!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Racing Against Winter

What a difference a week makes! Last Tuesday I was in the final rush to get any and all remaining bulbs in the still unfrozen ground, and a week later we had a high of 26 degrees and lows dropping to single digits. The snow is coming down outside as I write this, so I guess I did beat Old Man Winter since every bulb made it into the ground. Now we just need to wait and see what actually comes up!
The South Bed is finally cleared (mostly) and ready for planting. It wasn't actually my plan to plant bulbs here, but oh well. It will look pretty in the Spring, and I don't actually have a plan figured out for this space anyway.

60 mixed parrot tulips went in right along the front edge of the bed in no time using the bulb digger.

I've had about twenty plans for this bed now that it's cleared. It runs all along the South side of the house and could actually be made deeper. One year we planted sunflowers along here and they grew wonderfully well with the house acting as support. I was thinking we could use this for melons, but that just seems silly and a waste of space (and I may have a different plan for melons). I think maybe a mixed annual/perennial border is the best choice. And then I'm already started by planting the tulips!

Most everything we bought this year was on clearance. After the parrot tulips I had these 60 bulbs left.

As well as some daffodils that were dug accidentally somewhere in the garden.

Even though the colors don't really match, I HAD to get these things in the ground. So I just mixed them in a box and started planting them in the big bed out front. Aside from the reliable old Darwin hybrids in the Berry Patch, we usually treat tulips as annuals anyway, so we can just plant new ones next fall. 

I scraped back the mulch, grabbed the bulb digger, and really was done in no time.

When the soil cooperates, this thing really works great!

Pretty excited to see all the tulips blooming out front, despite the color mix. I've never planted them so heavily in this section, so it should look pretty either way. If a color seems really out of place, I'll just pick the flower and take it home!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Meatless Monday - Chickpea Soup with Parsley and Parm

Here it is! The final Meatless Monday soup for November! Alright, so I'm a little late. Thanksgiving totally got in the way.

As the name suggests, this soup is pretty chickpea-y, so if you don't like chickpeas, don't make it. I also think I would dice some garlic and throw that in to actually cook in the soup at the same time as you start cooking the chickpeas. This would also be the perfect soup for using up a Parmesan rind by just letting it simmer away in the soup. The recipe really couldn't be easier, and it is a quick, hearty, warm-you-up sort of soup. I, of course, used vegetable stock.

Garlic chips are totally addictive, and yes, some of my garlic had sprouts (the green centers), but whatevs.

Rinse and drain your chickpeas. Yes, you could also cook 30oz of fresh or dried, but, much like pumpkin, I think a chickpea is a chickpea is a chickpea.

Fresh from the garden! I dug around a bit while Yoda was taking her constitutional and pulled even more parsley out of the vegetable garden.

Seriously. Fried garlic. I could eat it all day long.

The chickpeas gook pretty fast and mash up really easily. After this you just throw in the stock, a cup of water, and the Parmesan rind and simmer away!

The grated Parm has totally dissolved out of sight, but the flavor was definitely still present. A pretty tasty soup with very few ingredients.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Must Be Doing Something Right!

I had sort of been fearing the worst. My Medinilla Magnifica was looking a bit weary. I had lost one to that  extremely hot week in summer (and due to my negligence), and was worried about the second. These plants were large and blooming when I bought them, and they carried a premium price tag. In fact, I don't believe I've even spent as much on one plant as I did these, so you can imagine how irked I was with myself.
The thing is is that they sort of thrive on neglect. This guy (The Survivor) has been in the same place since I bought him. When I think about it I'll soak him, pot and all, in a sink full of water. When I don't think about it, well, I don't. I do, however, look at him every day to see if the dead patch of leaf is growing, or if he looks to be wilting. So far he has been a good, stable houseplant.

Native to the Philippines, Medinillas, when blooming, have stunning cascades of pink flower bracts. I've since discovered that Logee's sells smaller plants for around $15. I will probably invest in a few more in the Spring.

I love their large, slightly sculptural leaves. This one, however, has had this blight for quite a while. It hasn't grown at all, however, so I'm simply keeping an eye on it.

And what do we have here? New growth!

And even more new growth! I'm not sure if they will be blooms or a new stalk of leaves. I really know so little about this plant! I am simply relieved to see it growing. I must be doing something right!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Meatless Monday : Vegetarian Sides

I woke up Thanksgiving morning grateful. Grateful that it only felt like I had been hit by a bus and not a train.  Too much merriment on Wednesday evening had led to not enough sleep and dehydration on Thursday morning. Thank God I had already bought/picked/prepped most everything for my contributions to dinner. All I had to do now was put it all together.

I saw this stuffing recipe (I used vegetable stock) and thought it looked tasty and a little different. I mean, canned peaches in heavy syrup? I had never bought a can of peaches in my life. The other recipe for smashed root vegetables and leeks seemed like a nice alternative to plain mashed potatoes. I must admit, however, that my mashed potatoes are almost always 1/3 parsnips already.

The best part? They both made enough for leftovers! 

Get your saute on! Celery, onions, garlic.

I had frozen parsley on hand, but the sage and thyme came fresh from the garden. I actually could have picked enough still green parsley, but I need to use what I've frozen.

Herbing things up!

Bread went into the oven, since I had no foresight for cutting it up beforehand.

I didn't chop any of the peaches up, just mixed them right in as they were.

Ready for the oven!

Once the stuffing was in the oven, I started the root vegetables boiling and began sauteing the leeks. There really was a lot of butter used, but hey, everything is fine if you eat in moderation! Right?

Didn't even need to use the potato masher, everything was so tender stirring with the wooden spoon was all that I needed to do.

So wonderful and sweet and creamy and mashy. A few people had several helpings and had no idea there were turnips and parsnips in their potatoes! A perfect side for any dinner!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Window Box "Replant"

A few weeks ago at work we did an event that needed pumpkins and gourds for centerpieces. We found what we needed at Young's Greenhouse, a local, family owned greenhouse that has been around for 126 years and is in it's 5th generation. The next day we had, well, about a hundred little pumpkins and gourds left over and we split them up at work. I knew exactly where I could use my portion.
I could fill the dreary, ugly, full-of-bare-dirt window boxes!

Much better!

I'm not sure if you can see them from the street or not. (please excuse my toes)

But from the inside looking out on a rainy day like today it is a major improvement. Now what to do out here for Christmas...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Daycation, All I Ever Wanted

Monday night I headed South to Indianapolis for a visit with my friends Erin and Phil. They were wonderful hosts and they fed and entertained my friend Abby and I all night and the next day. Thank you so much to the Bristows for making my Daycation to Indy such a blast! There are so many things I should have bought, I need to go back!

We arrived to a beautiful, home cooked Indian dinner.

Followed by a taste of one of their local breweries. Then it was time for euchre, beer, wine, Taboo, more beer, etc.

Bright and somewhat early the next morning we headed out for some sightseeing and shopping. It was fun to see how things have changed since my last real visit, which was before all the Super Bowl anticipation brought quite a bit of money downtown. Our first stop of the day, however, was the Midland Arts and Antiques Market.

Where do I begin? This is just a small section of two enormous floors chock full of awesome finds. There were four little lustreware pitchers, all very cheap due to chips at the rim, but would have been perfect little vases. The furniture is all wonderful. There are two chairs like this at the theatre that I have always had my eye on. They are beat up, but could be nicely refinished.

I found a ton of yellowware bowls, I just don't know if I've decided to commit to collecting them. I have a few at home, but haven't added to them in years.

This jardiniere was only $45. I should have bought it. It's not the more intricate, Roseville pottery jardinieres that can cost anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars, but it was in excellent condition.

I DID buy an old Martha Stewart collection glass acorn for $3, though!

I spotted these Haeger candle holders and immediately called out to Abby. I bought some of these from her at a VERY reasonable price, and they were marked $24.50 here and one of them was chipped. She's going to post them on eBay.

I set down the candle holders and scanned the room. Low and behold, beneath the church pew, I spied something I'm always on the look-out for. Faux Bois.

This is a big regret. It wasn't anything that old or fancy, just a plain old, concrete, faux bois trough planter. It was only $25 and I passed it by. AAAARRRRGH! I just knew it would be a pain to get home. It weighed a ton, and would have taken two people to carry it up to the Penthouse. I really could kick myself for not coming up with some way to bring it home. If it's there when I go back, then it was meant to be.

Vintage and antique holiday decorations were out in full force.

From there we headed over to Fountain Square. The Fountain Square theatre played host to the wedding reception of my hilarious and dear friends Rachel and Jared many moons ago.

Rollerbladers are the low man on the totem pole. As they should be.

Leaving lunch and taking a look downtown. We also stopped by the Indianapolis Downtown Antique Mall. I almost spent too much on jadeite, but stopped at a nice piece of pottery and some vintage Christmas ornaments. Erin, however, made some big scores, like a complete Fire King lustreware eggnog bowl and 12 cups, as well as some new lustreware plates and a cream and sugar set. All 50% off! Here's a little video of the place. They do a good job of keeping out the "junky stuff".

This pretty much sums it up. What a great day of sightseeing and shopping. Thank you, Erin and Phil, for a wonderful Daycation!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Last Flower of the Year

Sunday was a strange day. Storms were predicted for the afternoon, and as the morning turned to the noon hour, things seemed to be lining up to be worse than originally expected. Tornado Watches were issued (in November!) and the temperature continued to rise. From the safety of the Penthouse I watched as the storm hit, then slightly panicked as the tornado sirens went off and I couldn't see across the street for the wind and rain. Was a tornado really coming? Where are my shoes? What do I want to wear when I am homeless and all of my other other clothes are blown away? I admit to being a wee bit nervous for a few minutes.

Before all that happened, though, I took a stroll around the Garden.

Hosta leaves flattened by the frost.

One of the Autumn ferns still happy and green as can be.

The skeleton of the climbing hydrangea.

All of the Hydrangea Border was wiped out by the frost. I wish I would have picked those last flowers!

Out in the vegetable garden the asparagus fronds have turned a bright coppery-blond.

The little white azalea needs it's burlap coat soon.
Hey! There's a patch of mesclun looking as good as can be!

So many different colors in the Berry Patch. The gooseberries turned a really vivid red this year.

And there she was, knocked over and shivering. One lonely little delphinium. Of course I took her home.
After the storm the sky was rather amazing. I couldn't see anything in this shot when the sirens originally went off.

So beautiful.

The glowing colors were amazing.

And the entire time that storm was raging and then the cold wind was blowing, the last flower of the year sat cheering up the kitchen counter.