January 2007

January 2007

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chocolate Yule Log

I made this cake last week for a birthday. It's just a chocolate cake roll with a cream cheese filling.  I wanted to decorate it but not with the traditional meringue or marzipan mushrooms. While flipping through my recipe books for ideas, I came across the peanut butter ball (or buckeye ball) recipe and thought - if you can shape the peanut butter mixture into balls, why not mushrooms and mice? It worked great! I also flattened some of the mixture and cut out leaves. Everything was dipped in white chocolate. I sprinkled green sugar on the leaves before the chocolate hardened and put mini chocolate chips and dried cranberries on the mice. With the mushrooms, I dusted them with cocoa powder after the chocolate had hardened. Mouse tails were painted onto the cake with chocolate and red cinnamon candies are the holly berries.
I've decided to try this again with other cakes making other decorations from the peanut butter. A springtime or summer cake could be made shaping and coloring the chocolate like flowers. The possibilities are endless!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Are you ready?

Are you tired of hearing this question? Are you ready?  It doesn't matter if we're ready, Christmas is coming. It won't wait until we have our house decorated, shopping done and wrapped, baking done, cards sent out, etc. etc. etc.  I decided this year I am not stressing over anything. What gets done, gets done. No longer do I strive for the "perfect" Christmas. Our 2 trees are  smaller this year, due to a very old cat who likes to spray. So our trees are up on tables and I actually like them that way. I was able to set my village up under one of our trees instead of moving all my houseplants out of a bay window to set my village up there. 
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, stress free and full of happy family memories.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A day in the life of a Christmas tree farm

A day in the life of a tree farm - this season started with a lot of rain and mud. Then it snowed, making everything pretty. Now it's raining so it will go back to mud. Then it's supposed to freeze, which will turn everything to ice. Then snow on top of the ice.  We've had everything except sun!
Thank goodness for the Gator - it goes through mud and snow!
 A pre-cut tree being carried up to the baler

 Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree - how much snow is on your branches.  The kids love to see their tree being shaken. It's extra special if a bird nest flies out. The guys doing the shaking aren't too thrilled with snow filled trees. Today it's raining, they will be soaked.
 This was 2 years ago, Santa goes around Oswego Town every year on the fire truck and they stopped at the tree farm to see the kids.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wreaths, wreaths, and more wreaths

It's my busiest time of the year, I've turned into the "wreath lady" for a few weeks. My brother owns a Christmas tree farm and I am the wreath maker. I've been at it for a couple of weeks now and I've neglected my blog. Today I am using a vacation day to go out to the tree farm and cut more boughs (in the pouring rain) and get ready for my Girl Scout meeting tonight. We will be making fresh evergreen arrangements with residents of a senior ladie's home. I enjoy creating wreaths but I miss out on having time to decorate my house and all that fun stuff!  I hope you enjoy my photos of some of my creations. I had thought of doing a giveaway - sending a wreath to the lucky winner, but decided I just don't have time.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Leaves, leaves, and more leaves

The leaves are down, raked, shredded, and spread around some plants and heaped on the compost pile.  Who remembers jumping into huge piles of leaves as kids? We had 2 large maple trees in our yard and an older lady, 2 houses down, also had 2 large trees. We'd rake all our leaves into a pile and then rake her leaves and somehow get them up to our house.  I don't remember how we accomplished that.  Do kids today realize how much fun a pile of leaves is? We'd spend days playing in them.  I also don't remember how the pile was ever removed from the front yard or where it was removed to.  Every year, I wish for a child to be around so I would have an excuse to jump in a pile of leaves and not look like I've lost my mind!  Just the smell of takes me back to those childhood days.

 Leaves surrounding and covering my alyssum.

 Someplace in here, look real hard - you'll see some impatiens peeking through.

 Mums and alyssum surrounded by leaves.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Fall "Easter Egg" Hunt

Autumn is here and that means it's time for the squirrel's annual "Autumn Nut Hunt", similar to our Easter Egg hunt.  Everywhere I go in my yard,  discover beechnuts hidden in the oddest places.  Here are three pictures of hidden nuts. 
A few days ago, I was pulling down the dead morning glory vines and was rudely bopped on the head by a beechnut hidden in the vines.  These only stay hidden a few days, when the squirrels get hungry, they find them and make quite a mess scattering the outer layers as they get to the prize inside. 
(I had more, but they were in my camera program on my computer and my computer crashed. Don't ya' love these computers! I thought I had everything backed up, but forgot about all those pictures sitting in my camera program waiting to be saved to a folder. )

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween is almost here!

I'd like you to meet some of my Halloween friends.
Here are the bride and groom. They sing "I've Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher and sway their bony heads.

 Here is our little ghoul riding her tricycle
 Mr. Count, one of our greeters

Here's our other 2 greeters

A couple of witches hangin' out in the flowers

Rat and pumpkin head keeping company in the flower pot

I made this from a small birdhouse gourd

I made these 2 cuties from light bulbs

I hope everyone has a fun and ghoulish Halloween!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Goblin's Delight Cupcakes

This is a fun Halloween party treat. It's also good any time of the year, 
just change the cake flavor and filling color. Frosting can also be added.
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp. salt
2 drops each red and yellow food color
1 c. chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. unsifted all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 c. water
1 TBS. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
Filling: Combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, salt, food color in small bowl. Beat until smooth. Add chocolate chips. Set aside.
Cupcakes: Combine ingredients in order listed in large mixing bowl. Blend well on low speed. Fill 24 paper muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Spoon about 1 tablespoon cheese filling onto each cupcake. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake portion comes out clean.
This year, instead of making chocolate cupcakes, I used a spice cake  mix.  Then I frosted them with buttercream frosting flavored with cinnamon.  They were delicious!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good Morning, Glory

Good Morning, Glories. What a treat to wake up in the morning with these flowers, all of us turning our faces to the sun. These photos were taken a couple weeks ago. Some of my morning glories are still flowering while others have succumbed to the cold.  I find it strange that when you plant morning glories from a seed packet, you are instructed to nick the seeds or soak them so as to help them germinate better through their very hard outer layer.  My morning glories have  no trouble re-seeding themselves year after year with no help from me.  I let most of them grow where they land, only pulling out the ones that will take over other plants.  In this first photo are my well-behaved morning glories, growing where they're supposed to.

Meandering through the alyssum

Climbing a small shepherd's hook and trailing off into the boxwood

Climbing the lilac bush

Wrapped around another shepherd's hook and vining through the Russian Sage

Twisting through the snowball bush

In and around the turtleheads

Up yet another shepherd's hook and over to check out the birdhouse

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October Sunrise

I was eating breakfast one morning last week before work and happened to look out my back window. The sunrise was amazing, so of course I had to stop eating to grab my camera and go outside. Didn't even bother to put shoes on, just wandered around the dewy back yard in my slippers snapping pictures.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Letchworth State Park

I took a trip to Letchworth State Park, one of New York's wonderful state parks. It's 2 hours away from home.  Spent a wonderful day there with my daughter. The colors aren't at peak yet, but it was still beautiful. I hope you enjoy my pictures and this little break from gardening. A fellow blogger, The Violet Fern,  posted pictures from her hike through Letchworth last week. Jump on over to her blog for more photos. http://thevioletfern.blogspot.com/2010/10/take-hike-at-letchworth.html

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Artist spolight on Crafty Life and Style blog

Jump on over to Crafty Life and Style blog to read about their artist spotlight. (just click on the title of this post) Each week they spotlight a different artist and offer a giveaway created by that artist.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Clip Clocks - a unique gift for that hard to buy for person

Do you have a hard to buy for person in your family? My cousin has created the most unique item. It's a watch that is hidden inside of a beautiful pin. Many designs to choose from. Please visit her site by clicking on my post title and check out these unusual watches for yourself.

A ClipClock .is an original invention of Deanna A. Hubbard of Deanna's Nest Egg. After years of performing in various ways at the Sterling Renaissance Festival in Sterling, NY she became tired of hiding her watch while trying to check the time and stay anachronistically correct. These clocks are a great addition to any reenactor costume or just an accessory to your favorite outfit.
I create all the clocks from Jewelry and/or Vintage Jewelry Parts. I combine different pieces of jewelry to create the perfect accessory for you.
Orders are shipped within 2 days.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Old Road Primitives patterns

Good news - I was the winner of a giveaway on Old Road Primitives. It's pattern to make an adorable fall harvest mouse decoration. Can't wait to get it and start creating.  If you love crafting, check out their blog and their website.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spider Web art

I don't usually take pictures of spider webs, I'm too busy brushing them off my face, out of my hair, and then searching for any spiders on me. But, this one was too neat to pass up. I did have to destroy it so I could get to my barbecue grill, but it was back the next day. I have yet to see the spider who makes it.

Same web in black and white.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oswego Tea

Here is a Hawk Moth on my Oswego Tea. The Oswego Tea is also known as Bee Balm, Monarda, and Bergamot. Why do I call it Oswego Tea? Native Americans in my area of New York State used the dried leaves for tea. They shared it with our early settlers who used it as a substitute after the Boston Tea Party - thus it became known as Oswego Tea. Monarda didyma, with red flowers, is actually the only Monarda truly called Oswego Tea, although we tend to call all of it Oswego Tea.
The Hawk moth, also known as the sphinx moth or hummingbird moth, is often thought to be a very small hummingbird because of its hovering and flight pattern. You'll see them feeding on the same plants enjoyed by hummingbirds.
I remember the first time I'd ever heard of one. It was at least 20 years ago, my grandmother called me, very excited, and described this thing she saw hovering in her lavender. She thought it was a species of hummingbird she'd never seen. This was before I had internet, so I scoured the books in the library and found the hawk moth. Mystery solved! Now they are a common sight around here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Moose River, Old Forge, NY

I took a much needed break from everyday life. I watered my garden and left for a few days - weeds - have fun growing! We went camping in Old Forge, NY at Nick's Lake State Park. We were joined by other family members. On Saturday, we met more people in town who had come for the day and we spent the afternoon paddling down the Moose River. What a relaxing, wonderful, stress-free afternoon. (except the part when we had to portage, oh my aching back!!) We paid to have Mountain Man Outdoors transport us and our canoes/kayaks to a put-in site. Then all we had to do was let the current carry us down river (with a little bit of steering on our part.) Stopped for a leisurely picnic lunch on one of the many sandbars. It was a wonderful break from life. Mountain Man Outdoors rents all the equipment you need for this trip if you don't have your own.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Evening Garden by Peter Loewer book review

If you don't already have a garden to enjoy in the evening, in the light of the moon, you will want one after reading Peter Loewer's book, The Evening Garden: Flowers and Fragrance From Dusk to Dawn.
I am in the process of submitting a children's story I wrote to publishers. I've been working on it since last winter. The title - The Moonlight Garden. The story takes the reader on a stroll through a moonlit garden and my hopes are it will inspire parents to create a similar garden with their children.
I borrowed Peter's book from the library so many times to use in my research, I finally bought my own copy. This book is such an inspiration. Full of beautiful black & white drawings, quotes, and snippets about gardening. It's full of ideas, plant care, etc. Published in 1993, there are many new varieties of flowers and plants suitable for an evening garden, but this book is a great place to start. (As my book would be if a publisher chooses to publish it.)
If you're looking for a different "theme" garden to add to your landscape, consider one you can enjoy at night - after a day of work and chores.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blackberries picking and cooking

'Off I went, into the wild green yonder...' It's blackberry season (or it was last week when I went picking.) I braved the stabbing thorns, skin-piercing mosquitoes, and head-buzzing deer flies in the wilds of my son's property. Yup - all for the joy of picking my own berries. There's such a rewarding feeling about foraging for your food. Kind of like being a pioneer woman (or cave woman, depending on how far back you want to go.) When you walk out of the "jungle" with your pail of berries, sweat dripping, feeling like you've just done battle with nature - you feel great knowing YOU picked those beautiful berries. You may get a few strange looks from folks willing to pay $3 a pint for their berries. I give them strange looks for paying such an outrageous price, what the heck do you do with a measly pint of berries?

Don't these look yummy?? They were, trust me. They're so pretty and shiny :)

So, other than eating them on cereal and in my yogurt, here are a couple of recipes you might like. Oh - and have you ever made a smoothie with blackberries? It turns a delicious shade of purple!

Blackberry Cobbler

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°. Place blackberries in a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish. Stir together egg, sugar, and flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over fruit. Drizzle melted butter over topping. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve warm with whipped cream, or even better - vanilla ice cream.

Blackberry Freezer Jelly

2 cups blackberry juice (either use a juicer or sieve to get the juice)
2 TBS lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1 pouch CERTO

Measure juice into large bowl (one with a spout is great.) Measure exact amount of sugar and stir into juice. Mix well, let stand 10 minutes; stir occasionally. Stir pectin into lemon juice. Stir mixture into juice mixture. Stir constantly for 3 minutes. Pour into jelly containers. Let stand at room temperature before putting in freezer or refrigerator.
Note: Sure-Jell or Fruit Pectin can be used for lower sugar recipe or no sugar recipe - follow their directions.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Greenhouse Garden update

A few new pictures of my greenhouse garden -
Here is my very own live orangecicle - orange gladiola and white liatris

Pink butterfly bush (huge blooms- over a foot long!) with white rose of sharon as a backdrop.

Don't you just love it when a "non-plan" comes together? These are my fuchsia colored phlox, which I just happened to plant around my purple rose of sharon (because there was empty space there) and they just happened to bloom at the same time - I didn't even think about that when I planted them. The phlox filled in the bare lower branches of the rose of sharon. Love it!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

out of control clematis

This is my clematis that I didn't quite get trained over the top of my arbor. It decided to reach for the neighbor's yard. Didn't quite make it but it gave a good try.
Do you like the frame around my photo? I found this GREAT blog that has TONS of neat stuff to add to your blog. There were very detailed, clear instructions for adding frames to your photos. Check it out at paisleycatscrapsfreebloglayouts.blogspot.com

flower dolls

Okay, so I was bored one day. I know, how is that possible when you have gardens to weed. I guess I didn't feel like weeding, I felt like playing. Remembering the hollyhock dolls I used to make as a kid, I decided to see what else you could turn into "people". My husband saw me playing and thought the heat had cooked my brain. I was having fun - I used balloon flowers, impatiens, day lilies, poppy seed heads, trumpet flower and Oswego tea. Next time your kids get bored (or you feel like having a lazy day) just pick a few flowers and use your imagination.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The 3,000 Mile Garden book review

I've just finished reading The 3,000 Mile Garden by Roger Phillips and Leslie Land. Roger, a professional gardener in London and Leslie, an American gardener, exchange letters during the year, sharing their gardening experiences. I ecpected this to be a dry read and I'd just skim through it, but I was delightfully surprised. I felt like I was reading a novel. Through their letters, we learn about their garden successes and frustrations. The struggles they each have gardening in their climate, critter problems, people problems... We've all been there. I highly recommend this enjoyable read for every gardener.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

We had so much rain yesterday, my flowers are water logged, drooping, sad, and broken. And so am I. I need to find stakes that are at least 5 ft. tall to stake my flower with next year. These are my poor drooping phlox, spilling their sad, pink tears.

My false sunflowers were glorious - reaching for the sky. Now their stems are broken off where they were staked. I'll cut them and put them in a vase, but I am so sad. This happened last year, too. I thought I had them staked better. Live and learn....

Russian sage is not happy. I may still be able to save it if I tie it up better.

These are photos of my liatris - before and after the rain. More heavy rain is predicted for tonight.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Swamp Milkweed

A few years ago I planted one swamp milkweed in a garden at the edge of my father's pond. It has since spread like, well - a weed! It loves the wet soil and does very well in the heavy clay. I don't mind that it has spread around the pond, it's a beautiful plant. Much prettier than the regular milkweed. The monarch caterpillars love it just as much, too. I brought one plant home with me and put it in my flower garden, where it is thriving. It has yet to spread and when it does, it may end up in one of my neighbor's yards. Not to worry, they can just mow it down. If you have a butterfly garden, I suggest you plant a swamp milkweed in it! The bees love it too, as you can see, although my picture is a little blurry. This bee was all over this flower like, well - a bee to honey :)
Clicking on the title of this post will take you to a site with more information on the swamp milkweed.