Today

My day so far:

Woke early because a spider was crawling up the side of my torso. Flicked him off and rolled over, but the birds were singing, so I didn’t get back to sleep. In case this anecdote hasn’t informed you already, spiders don’t freak me out… which explains my affinity for the Wizard Howl.

Baked these grain-free vanilla cup-cakes.

Frosted them with this home-made nutella.

But first I blanched a bunch of hazelnuts… which is ridiculous. Spend a little more and buy them blanched. I tell you what.

Ate two cupcakes. I justify it that by the time everything was done it was nearly noon.

Then I mowed the lawn and puttered a bit in my garden.

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Spent some time petting and crooning love songs into the ear of my beloved Oliver. (He’s a cat, btw.)

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Picked great mounds of plantain leaves (yes, the yard weed), washed, chopped and covered itΒ  in olive oil in a jar. After several weeks, it’s supposed to be useable for an amazing skin salve for bug bites and i know not what. We shall see.

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And the day’s not over yet. πŸ˜‰ I have great plans for more gardening and working on a painting later this evening. My aunt has commissioned two paintings from me, the cost of which almost exactly covers the amount I still owe her on my car loan. Perfect! I love that even though I am not waking up to an alarm and groaning my way out of bed to head to work every morning, I am still able to earn my keep while I’m home. I’m not growing rich by any means, but my time is my own and I love it.

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Green Juice #1

green juice

 

My apologies for the horrible, horrible photo. It’s 11 pm and I just realized about 20 minutes ago that I wanted to have green juice ready for my breakfast in the morning, on the fly to work. So, I made a batch of what has become my personal favorite juice, bottled it, (dotcha like the bottle? Isn’t it adorable? T.J. Maxx. $4.) and wanted it share it with you. I just stuck a pad of newsprint paper behind it to block the other, more hideous clutter from view. I wanted to illustrate just how GREEN this stuff is. I love it! This is what The Jolly Green Giant drinks for breakfast, I’m pretty sure. He sits around with The Hulk, discussing how to get more kids to eat their vegetables.

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They told me this would happen.

About two weeks ago, I started juicing. Mostly vegetables. Not major juicing, not the juice-fast thing by any means. Some mornings I have juice for my breakfast, some nights I have it with my supper. Still eating more than plenty of my regular food. I wanted to see how many veggies I could get in there after months of knowing that a small handful of spinach in my fruit smoothie wasn’t cutting it. The handful o0f spinach is great for what it’s worth, but when weight is a problem and sugar is killing several members of your family, having too much fruit is a very real problem. Likewise not enough vegetables.

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Planting Garlic

Every summer when I see local farm stands advertising fresh garlic, I wonder why I didn’t grow any myself. It’s supposed to be easy. The thing is, I’ve been told to plant it in late fall, and I don’t typically plant anything but tulips that time of year, so I simply forget. This year, I managed to remember in time! Sadly, all of my efforts to find local garlic came up empty, and I ended up buying a few heads of garlic at the grocery store. I know that some garlic is treated with some chemical to delay it’s sprouting, so I’m just hoping that this is not that garlic. Whenever we buy it for cooking it certainly doesn’t seem like it has a problem sprouting. πŸ˜‰
I’m not a garlic expert, so I’m not going to pretend I am and tell you just how to grow it. I will fill you in on what I did, according to what I gleaned from books and friends.*

I found an area among my herbs that was the perfect size (planting it in the middle of your regular garden is a bad idea when your dad’s favorite thing about gardening is hooking the plow up to the tractor and obliterating everything.), and using a potato fork I cleared all the weeds and roots and broke the soil up, since it hadn’t been tilled in a couple of years. Then, using the corner of a hoe -a la my grandpa- I scratched 3″ deep trenches about 4″ apart.

Forgot to take my camera with me, so I’m reduced to internet thievery. This is not my picture, but it gives a good idea of what I did. And honestly, a blog post with no pictures is boring. πŸ˜‰

My foster siblings had all discovered me outdoors by this time, so with my directions they planted the cloves 3-4″ apart, sprinkled a light layer of dry cow manure over them, and pushed the loose soil back over the rows. Then we shook hay loosely over the rows to mulch (I know from other crops that a good layer of hay keep the ground warm, and the root vegetables keep growing, or at least keep from freezing, even with a foot of snow over them. Digging carrots in January, people. Think about it.) And that was it! I was really pleased that the kids all wanted to help, hopefully it’s just the beginning of an interest in gardening for them. And we shall see what my grocery-store garlic does over the winter months! Hopefully by spring I’ll see signs of life.

*Something that occurred to me recently is how our source of knowledge on every topic is becoming more and more reliant on the internet. I have two shelves full of gardening book, so this is completely silly. I’ve pledged to myself that when I have questions, I will check my books first. And if there’s time, I will also ask experienced friends; after all, a huge part of the pleasure in friendship is discussing things like that. The internet is an amazing and useful resource, but I want to keep my sense of ‘real life’ wide awake.

Rosemary as an Ornimental Herb

I’ve tried several times to grow Rosemary in my herb garden. The problem is, in my climate, rosemary does much better in a clay pot so the roots are in warmer soil during the day, and my herb garden is far enough away from the house that I just don’t remember to water ANYTHING out there. So rosemary normally dies on me.

This year I decided to just mix it in with my other container plants. It is pretty, a nice textural contrast, and a great color contrast when combined with purple foliage. It’s right outside my patio door with my other highly needy containers and gets watered almost as regularly as everything else. Rosemary is a Mediterranean plant so it never needs to be soaking wet, either.

 

Another herb that I’m going to do even more with next year is Pistou basil. It’s teeny, adorable, and with the right amount of space and light, each plant forms a perfect little sphere, like an herbal topiary you didn’t have to work for.

This is several plants in one pot, so the shape is a little kooky. I did see perfectly round plants this spring in the greenhouse where I work. The flavor of this variety is wonderful, and since the leave are so tiny it’s a cinch to just strip them off and toss them into your salad or sauce or whatever you want, no chopping involved.

Rosemary-Cheddar Scones with Herb Butter

Another savory addition to the menu. I love a good savory scone. Well I love nearly any sort of scone when it comes down to it. I wish I had gotten a picture of these as they came out of the over, they were truly beautiful. Mock me if you like, they were. The rosemary is subtle in a good way. The chives in the herb butter (a little creation of my own, thank you.;) ) really complimented the cheddar, and the sprinkling of sea salt on top just really finished them off. Yum, oh yum.

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Lavender Lemonade

I heard rave reviews from a friend about lavender lemonade a few weeks ago, so when I was looking for an iced beverage to serve (it was like 85F that day, I figured not everyone would want hot tea!) I knew I had to try it. My lavender is not in bloom yet, so I begged my friend Kacie, who works in a natural food store, to get me dried lavender flowers. Making the syrup concentrate is easy, only slightly more complex than brewing a large pot of tea. Then chill and mix with water and lemon juice – voila!

 

“Not too sweet, not too sour… just too pink!”

*name that quote*

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Stolen moments

Tonight I took an hour or so away from the pressing tasks I really should have been doing to plant some seeds.

 

Cosmos, borage, old fashioned pansies…

 

Nasturtiums…

 

And calendulas, or ‘Pot Marigolds’. I love the curly seeds. These seeds are from the gardens of Mount Vernon, which I was able to visit last summer. Cue history geek squee. πŸ˜€