Friday, September 29, 2006
Wednesday was perfect! The sky was blindingly blue, temps in the upper 60's and Monarch butterflies were literally everywhere! Hundreds of them were feasting on the asters which are in full bloom and so thick that some of the fields were covered in varying hues of purple. The Monarchs spend these early autumn days stocking up energy for their long flight to Mexico where they will overwinter until spring and instinct sends them back our way.
H and I had a delightful three mile walk around one of our favorite Maine harbors. There were still a few sailboats in the harbor, but most of the summer folks had gone back home after Labor Day.
After a day of shopping and lunch at our favorite restaurant, we ended the day sitting in the door yard feeding "the Rat" (Herman, the Chipmunk).
Life is Sooooo Good!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The temperatures dipped into the upper 30's last night - great sleeping weather!
This morning, the house is redolent with the spicy aromas of apples, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and brown sugar, all bubbling merrily away to it's final destination of my annual batch of apple butter. Our friends went apple picking last week and brought me a 10 pound bag of fresh, crisp Macintosh and Paula Red apples; what a wonderful treat. Sooo, never one to let great gifts go unappreciated, jars of apple butter will fill several Christmas stockings this year, along with the seeds collected from my garden. The rugosa roses are full of huge, beautiful crimson hips too. Rose Hip Jelly comes to mind. Hmmmm, if I keep this up, I'll have to get bigger stockings!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
My friend Lynn's husband is a lobster fisherman and when he's not lobstering, he's fishing for striped bass. I have been the fortunate recipient of several lovely stripers. I'm only 5 feet tall, so you can get some idea of how big this fish was.
He yielded two huge filets which will be marinated in olive oil, rosemary and pepper and then grilled to perfection! YUM
Life is Good in Maine!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
We have a very long, steep driveway (550 feet), which snakes it's way up to the main road. Five times of walking up and down the drive gives me a pretty good 1 mile workout and I do try to do that a few times a week.
Yesterday was rainy for a good portion of the day and by 4 o'clock I was feeling a bit "cabin feverish" so I donned my rain gear and headed up the drive. Despite the gloom and fog, the brilliant hues of early autumn could not be contained and I was moved to bring those happy colors back to the house with me. What a pretty little bouquet they make for the dining room table!
Today, we awoke to dense fog outside and the eerie sound of a distant ship's foghorn. A quick tour around the fading summer garden brought lots of inspiration for photos despite the gloom. The Van Grootendorst Rugosa Rose is blooming in a last gasp before a hard freeze finally lets her drift into a long winter's rest - one she richly deserves as she has bloomed her heart out all summer long.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Today is the first day of Autumn - the Autumnal Equinox. Happy Autumn, everyone! The leaves are turning brilliant colors, with their hues deepening daily. Today is cloudy and rainy, but on the days the sun shines, the skies are so blue, the birch leaves shine golden and the reds of the maples are beginning to attain their crimson color. I just love this time of year even though I'm sad to see the garden go by in a last hurrah. We've already begun with evening fires in the wood stove and it won't be long before the fire will not go out again until late March. We do have a forced air furnace, but seldom use it. The only time it came on last year was when the furnace guy came to give it an annual check! Our goal is the same this year - don't let the furnace come on. The wood stove may be a bit of a pain to maintain, but oh, the enveloping warmth, the crackle of the wood and the glow of the fire are just too nice.
Life is good on cold winter evenings in front of the fire.
Sorry to post more pictures of Herman, but we get such a kick out of him every afternoon. He's becoming quite tame, but still skittish about quick movements. When his peanut bowl is empty, he runs between me and H, skittering up and down our laps seemingly saying "Oh no! Surely you're not out of peanuts already"!
He is going to be one happy rodent once the snow sets in. His stash has got to be humongous!
Friday, September 22, 2006
One of the great things about living close to the sea is the seafood! Last night we had pan fried haddock with rice pilaf and fresh tomatoes from the garden dressed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil. YUM!
I spent a few minutes bringing in some of the more tender plants from the deck as it looked as though we might just get a bit of frost, but upon checking this morning, looks like we had another pass. Good thing, since I haven't gotten the winter garden room cleaned up yet. Come on, Giddy, time to get the show on the road!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
One of the things I like to do is save seeds and occasionally give them as gifts. I'm always looking for a clever way to package them and yesterday, I spent the day looking for seed packets on line. I found a great site for free downloads with some really cute packets which can be personalized.
Here's the link!
Since yesterday was a gloomy, rainy day and I had the day off, I spent the better part of it creating different seed packets for the seeds I have collected. So far, I've made packets for Cosmos, Gloriosa Daisies, Hollyhocks and Dwarf Marigolds. Hmmmm, I see some Christmas Gift ideas popping up here!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
First of all, let me say "I hate my agonizingly slow dial up service"!!!! I love to read all the interesting Garden Blogs, but it takes so long to load some of them with dial up that I end up having to quit and go get some other things done. You can be sure though, that I read as many as I can and comment as often as possible.
But, on to other topics today! Since I got home too late to take any pics out in the yard, I settled on cooking photos today. Last night H went overboard when chopping veggies for the stir fry - I had a *huge* pile which almost didn't fit into the skillet. But, I managed to get them crisply "al dente" despite the overflowing pan.
After removing the veggies from the skillet, I added a bit more oil and reheated the skillet to almost smoking before adding the cut up chicken breasts which H had marinated earlier in the day in a mixture of Soy Sauce, white wine, fish sauce, red pepper flakes (we like it spicy), chopped fresh ginger, chopped garlic and a bit of ground black pepper.
After adding the veggies back into the skillet and stir frying for a bit more, I added the marinade, thickend with a bit of corn starch. It was a bit too thick so I added a little more white wine (hey, it adds even more flavor!) for a lighter sauce. Then, the last items to hit the pan were the chopped cilantro and green onions. Cilantro is one of those herbs that one either loves or hates - there are no ambivalent feelings about it. H and I can't get enough of it in our Asian or Mexican food.
Well, I guess Blogger won't let me post more than 2 pictures at a time on a post, so this is a continuation! This is the chopped cilantro and green onions described in the previous post.
A last picture shows the final, yummy product. Unfortunately, I forgot to wipe the plate before taking the picture, but I can assure you, dinner still tasted great!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Every turn around the bend in our walk seemed to have something of interest to my camera. Here are a few more pics of bits of autumn nature: The mushroom look too much like an errant golf ball! The reindeer moss on the lichen covered granite caught my eye and the close up of the spruce cone just seemed sweet, all by itself. It was a great morning for a walk, but alas, it's back to work now. The good thing about work is that I have high speed internet there and am not stuck with this awful, slow dial up at home! Have a great day, Life is Good!
Monday, September 18, 2006
Today H and I went for one of our 2-3 mile walks along the Schoodic Peninsula. Although the actual date for the autumnal equinox is not til this Thursday, definite signs of the change of seasons were abundant. There was a slight haze in the atmosphere and the smell of the salty sea air hung heavy in the last bit of the morning fog.
The red berries of the mountain ash stood out starkly against the bark of the white birch.
As I reported earlier, the spruce trees are absolutely loaded with cones making them look top heavy. Long before The Farmer's Almanac predicted a long, wet winter, I was saying the same thing - all the indications point in that direction; lots of cones, early blooming of plants, blueberry harvest was 2 weeks early, golden finches have long since headed south. Yep, my bet is on a long winter's sleep!
Sunday, September 17, 2006
We have a new pet! While sitting out in our door yard every evening, we have been snacking on peanuts and have thus invited all the critters to join us. The only "regular" has been a little chipmunk we have named "Herman" (a family name). Every day, he waits for us to sit down in the adirondack chairs, and as soon as we look comfortable, he hops over to see what the "bar snacks" are for the evening.
Of course, we anticipate his joining us, so in the shell peanuts are always on the menu for his dining (hoarding) pleasure.
Here is little Herman, who has gotten comfortable enough with us to sit on my lap while stuffing his chipmunk cheeks with peanuts.
It takes him about 15 minutes to empty the container of peanuts, three at a time, and he hops away with cheeksfull to hide them heaven knows where. I have nightmares of peanuts sprouting in our yard next year!
Friday, September 15, 2006
We are quickly coming upon one of my favorite subjects for photos - sunsets! The autumn and winter sunsets here on the east coast are just breathtaking and I take every opportunity to photograph them - each one seemingly more beautiful than the last.
Since there is precious little to photograph in the garden during the winter (unless you like snowscenes), you'll be seeing lots of sunsets and photos of food, cooking being one of my other favorite pastimes. Just to give you an idea, here is one of my favorites from last year!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
OMG!!! My Muse has flown the coop and I have nothing in my garden about which to blog! The only plants still looking half way decent are the black eyed Susans and I'm sure every one else has lots of those!
Sooo, as promised in an earlier post, I am going to showcase the real talent in our home - Hubby! Not only is he a wonderful husband, but he's a talented artist as well.
These are just a couple of examples of his work. It would probably take a year of blogging to show all of his work!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Thanks for the inspiration, Zoey!
P.S. We saw no less than 5 deer while in the park. This picture isn't great, but the deer sure was cute. He's peeking out from behind that tree (hey, he's not eating MY plants!)
Monday, September 11, 2006
Whenever we are invited to someone's house, I like to take a gift of flowers from my garden. Unfortunately, I never had enough of those inexpensive vases to give to the host along with the flowers and it felt really odd to say "Here are some flowers from my garden, but I need the vase back".
Sooooo, being the, shall we say, ahem, "frugal" person I am, I put on my thinking cap and came up with a solution. I feel very strongly about recycling and hated throwing away the various glass jars that pickles, etc came in, so I just washed and saved them until I could think of a good use - you know - a place to keep nuts, bolts, screws and other small items. But then, I was hit with a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious)! I could paint them and make inexpensive vases for my flower gifts! And so, an idea was born and another item was at least temporarily saved from becoming a curious 21st Century artifact excavated from a future landfill dig.
The picture is of my first "Pickle Jar Art". I'm sure future art critics will call it a "classic example of Primitive 21st Century Art Form" ! "-) Move over, Grandma Moses!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Here is the finished daylilly bed that I worked my butt off on! Doesn't look like much now, but come spring, it will take off. There are 10 40# bags of topsoil and 2 40# bags of composted cow manure. That's 480 lbs of dirt and you know what (cow poop) that I schlepped from Home Depot to the truck, off the truck and spread around the bed. You do the math! Did I get any weight bearing exercise today? Well, you bet your britches I did! My doctor will be so proud.
After all this hard, sweaty work, I decided I needed some real fun and armed with my trusty pot paints and brushes, like Gepetto, I created an alter ego! Please meet my whimsical gardening gnome friend, "Stumpy"!
No matter how you say it, this year's tomatoes are luscious! I tend to ignore my small veggie garden, in favor of the perennials, but this year, the 'maters, beans and cukes were a hit. The zuchinnis were so so and the chard and kale are just now starting to "do something". The size of the garden keeps me from doing things like potatoes, winter squashes, etc, but I really like being able to go out and pick a few fresh things for dinner.
Unfortunately, we are anticipating a possible frost tonight, so I'm hoping for the best.
I spent the whole day working on my new daylilly bed which is located about half way up the driveway. Our drive is 550 feet long and wooded all the way with the exception of a very large piece granite ledge about half way up. A couple of years ago, I cleaned off the ledge (rock) and it made for a very interesting bit of sculpture on the side of the drive. Then I kind of let things go and over the last few years and brambles had pretty much taken over.
Today, I spent most of the day sweating, adding topsoil, compost and cow manure to the planting area and then planting daylillies, an assortment of sedums and, just for a bit of fall color, a couple of chrysanthemums. The first picture is of the area before the brambles were removed. The next one is after. The big stump will be a perfect place for a half whiskey barrel full of colorful annuals next spring.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Every year our Veteran's Club hosts a traditional "Lobster Feed" which Hubby and I help with. Yesterday, under glorious blue skies, we chowed down on freshly caught Downeast Lobster, Clams, Mussels, grilled steak for those who (gasp!) don't care for lobster,Corn and Coleslaw, all washed down with one's choice of beverage.
We steamed 140 lobsters, 100 lbs of clams and 70 lbs of mussels. Hubby and I helped with the set up and cooking.
Needless to say, a good time was had by all!
Friday, September 08, 2006
On those pleasant late summer afternoons, Hubby and I love to sit out in the yard and enjoy the cool ocean breeze while sipping a cocktail and munching on snacks. Last night, we were nibbling on in the shell peanuts when the local fauna decided to join us in "bar snacks"!
We had several small chipmunks and a couple of little red squirrels begging for nuts. They would take them out of our hands, but really just liked helping themselves from the bowls.
The squirrels were definitely aggressive toward the chipmunks and it was like watching an old Keystone Cops comedy when they would chase each other off into the woods. In the end, they all got their fair share of peanuts and we had the best time watching them and laughing at their antics! Life is sooooo good in the garden.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
What does Giddy do with her spare time? Well, what little she has of it during the growing season, she spends painting terra cotta pots when it's too rainy to work outside.
When we built the garage this year, one of the priorities was a work bench for Hubby and a potting bench for me. So far, I have spent more time painting pots than potting but, to everything there is a season and time enough for potting will come. In the meantime, pots is what I do. The pots shown are works in progress. The blue ones will probably have a blueberry theme, but I haven't decided on the ocre ones.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
I love birdhouses, particularly rustic ones.
I have several, but have yet to see any birds make their nest in one.
Last year, in late winter, I decided to clean out the blue bird house. Much to my chagrin, when I opened the bottom, the old nest and 4 pink baby red squirrels fell to the ground! By this time Mother Squirrel was shrieking at me as I was desperately trying to stuff the babies back into the nest. As soon as I had gotten them back into the nest, Mom came along and one by one took them out to an undisclosed new location. I have since learned my lesson and leave my birdhouses to nature and whoever would like to occupy them.
Monday, September 04, 2006
No matter how hard you look, there is always one green bean that hides all summer long and when you finally find it, it's a monster! It could almost have been a meal in itself.
Speaking of meals, last night we had a great one. We haven't had turkey since last Thanksgiving and I had a real yen for turkey and dressing. Of course, the turkeys in the grocery stores are prohibitively expensive right now, so instead of spending $20 for a small whole turkey, I decided to just get a couple of thighs. I put several leaves of fresh sage and a couple of onion slices under the skin, oiled, salt and pepper them and into the oven they went. An hour and 15 minutes later, they shared the plate with my fresh green beans and (shame on me), boxed dressing. Oh well, a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do! I just didn't have it in me to make my usual corn bread dressing.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The tomatoes are slowly beginning to ripen so I've been checking on them every day and picking what I could before the squirrels get to them. Found this one yesterday! The last of the green beans have pretty much been harvested - they were the stars of the veggie garden, bearing copious amounts of dinner delights. Even Hubby, who used to not think much of green beans was taken with the green bean salads, green beans with red potatoes and smoked sausage, etc, etc. I didn't get around to freezing as many as I did last year since we ate them almost as soon as they were picked.
The early September garden continues it's colorful show and I find much joy and serenity in sitting out there, enjoying the sights and sounds of late summer. Late afternoon is my favorite time of day to sit with a lovely glass of chardonnay and contemplate just how good life is in the garden. Nothing beats the feel of dirt under the fingernails! "-) This time of year, the skies are so blue and the spruces are so green. The birches are just beginning to show a bit of color.