Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Tune Up for My Amaryllis

Back before Christmas I began looking into the old cupboard in the garage to see how the pots of amaryllis were faring on their road to dormancy. I grabbed a few and threw them in a bag, brought them home, and then shoved them under the table because suddenly I had people coming over! And in that bag under the table they have remained until yesterday.

Now it sounds much more cruel than it actually is for the sleeping bulbs. They thrive on benign neglect. Sort of. As I was cleaning them up last night I realized I hadn't re potted, or even added new soil, to any of these pots for at least three years. Some of them, I'm afraid, had never been top dressed at all! These are the things a lazy gardener does. I mean, they grow so nicely all Summer long, the last thing I think they need in the Winter is to have little more attention than a good watering. They (almost) always perform for me, so the least I could do is to give them some new dirt to help energize these guys! Right? 

Man, sometimes I'm a real jerk to my plants.

And here they are! Direct from their bag kicked beneath the dining room table. Everyone needed cleaned up a bit, from the leaves in the dirt to the layers of papery skin surrounding the bulbs.

This one is already giving a sliver of hope. A new leaf pushing up signals the bulb is already awake. The others we will have to water and then wait and see. If no signs of growth occur in three weeks or so you can try to water again, but not before that unless leaves begin to grow.

This poor little dude had some of the worst soil ever. He was, however, still showing patches of green. He's still alive!

I completely re potted him. I trimmed the roots a bit, too. Another one was still in the planting medium they come with when you buy them in the plastic pots. You know, the kind that "grows" in water? I'm saying it was one that was new last year, even if I haven't used those peat pellet type things in years.
Much better. The pots are clean, the soil is refreshed, and the gravel makes everything tidy. Now to sit back and wait. Sometimes they bloom for me during the winter, and sometimes they surprise me by blooming in the summer. Either way I'm happy. I should probably try to remember to grab the rest of the pots from the garage this weekend.

This Christmas Story amaryllis sent up two stalks. This second one became rather wonky and fell over a bit. I cut the stem and have been enjoying the pure white blooms for over a week now, with one bud only beginning to open. They certainly brighten the gloomiest of Winter days.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chicken Soup for My Sanity

One of the last things I did before becoming a shut-in over the weekend was pick up a whole chicken. Last week I had bought parsnips and celery in preparation for making this soup (I was relying on my faulty memory in buying the celery, which is not an ingredient in this recipe), but couldn't find a whole organic chicken anywhere! At the last minute, and before I began to execute my plan to trap the doves at the feeder, I found one and all was well.

So here we have Susan's Chicken Soup. I think Susan is Sarah Carey's mom, and you know I love Sarah Carey, so naturally I think her mom is awesome. Anyway, this is so easy and delicious (the broth is wonderful), and it really does help keep your sanity in check as the cold seeps in, your fingers get frost bit, and you realize there is no way in hell that you are shoveling your car out on your own. Rather than go back to bed in disgust, make this soup.
A fat little chicken (organic, please), a couple of onions, some parsnips, and a pound of carrots of all sizes and colors from the garden.

Throw the bird in breast side down, add the chopped vegetables, and add about 12 cups of water. Season with salt, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 35-40 minutes.

After the chicken cools discard the skin and pick the meat off the bones. The chicken tastes so good you really have to try hard to have enough meat to add back into the soup.

A perfect way to fight off subzero wind chills. And making it is a perfect way to stay sane when you are snowed in. I know it helped keep me from talking to the walls!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snowed In

 I guess I asked for it. The Holidays had wore me out, and I was looking forward to a Saturday in, followed by the promise of a snowstorm on Sunday. There was that bit of hope that we might even have a snow day on Monday (that rare, wonderful thing that never happens once you are an adult unless you are a teacher). Well we were walloped. 

I, however, have never been so productive despite cabin fever encroaching last night. I worked for a few hours today, but thankfully returned home to a cleared out parking spot. The temperatures are supposed to almost reach 20 degrees by tomorrow, with rain this weekend. Hopefully it will all be gone as quickly (and it did come down pretty fast once it got started) as it arrived.

The mighty pine out my living room windows. That massive pile of snow is still hanging on somehow. I was hoping no branches would break, but a few did come down.

A look up West Berry Street early on during the heaviest snow. Once the snow ended that night the wind and wind chill picked up.

Looking East toward downtown. The snow still sticking to all of the tree branches.

You could barely make out the steeple of the church on Broadway only about four blocks away.


I paused for some lunch. Bucatini with homemade tomato sauce and some leftover sausage "meatballs" that I always make for parties. I used turkey sausage this time and they were pretty darn good. They are really easy to make ahead and freeze. I've used them for pasta before.
I then spent a good hour or so flipping through some of the 2014 seed and plant catalogs. I really have not ever been so unconscious of time as I have been the past three days.

Feeling like I was being lazy I cleaned all of the glassware, put away the holiday glasses, cleaned out the coffee and tea cupboard where they reside on the top shelves, and cleaned everything on the open shelves in the kitchen. Whew.
I love these old Martha Stewart Everyday glasses. They match perfectly the green of Depression glass, and work well at Christmas.
I took one last look outside and decided to just go to bed. I had been up since 9:30. Or was it 9? Or maybe 8? No, 8 was yesterday.
When I woke up to this view out the front windows. Sub zero wind chills completely frosted over the storm windows. It's funny to see my two tropical stephanotis plants only about 18 inches from a frozen death. I can't imagine all of the Southern gardeners dealing with the deep freeze that moved in yesterday, and how many tender plants they may have lost.