Friday, August 29, 2008

I Love Grandpa Ott!

Last year, I did not have much luck with the Mandevilla vines I planted in hopes they would cover the arbor over the deck fountain, so I decided to try my luck with morning glories again. I had saved seeds from the Grandpa Ott's I had planted the year before so I threw them into the fountain planters and hoped for the best. I also purchased a packet of mixed color morning glories for the planters on the new arbor we built in the spring.

This photo was taken about two weeks ago. The result of the Grandpa Otts is astounding! They have literally taken over the arbor and we can hardly see the fountain, although the lovely tinkling sound of the water is quite apparent.

By comparison, these vines from the purchased packet of seeds don't even compare to the heirloom Grandpa Otts.

This photo of a blob in the middle of the bed is our little helper. Every morning, as we are making the bed, Sluggo jumps in to help. It's quite a game for him as he loves to get under the covers and thinks we can't see him. He likes to play Peek a Boo with us.

Spike jumped up on the bed to see what that wiggling lump could be. What ensued had us laughing so hard we could hardly finish making the bed.

A good belly laugh is a great way to start the day.

Of course, little Sluggo keeps us entertained all day long. He's such a clown, quite unlike our majestic, dignified Spike.

Life is Good, and often, Fun.....


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Last week, we had lots of rain and fog. Ideal conditions for mushrooms and other fungi to develop. On our walk in Acadia, my camera was kept quite busy photographing all the different varieties of fungi we came across.

As a child in Germany, I would accompany my Tante Louise and cousins into the woods on bicycle until she smelled what she called a "mushroom woods". It was a distinct aroma. A combination of mossy, woodsy, dampness. She was an expert mycologist and could sniff out the tiny orange "Rehele" or the brown capped "Steinpilz" and other edible mushrooms.

On a particularly good day of hunting, we picked a huge basket full of wonderful variety of fungi. Upon our return home, Tante cooked up the most memorable mushroom stew. It was delectable and if I close my eyes, I can still smell the aromas and taste the delicate dish she served up in her kitchen that day.

Below are some of the more interesting ones we found. I was not able to identify them, but when I got home, I looked some of them up on the internet and found at least two that were edible. Not that I would be brave enough to try them!

I loved the speckled look of these two.

This one looked like some of the sponges we had seen on the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida

I can't remember the name of this one, but it is supposedly edible. I thought it looked like little yellow worms squirming up out of the moss.

I'm pretty sure this one was a Chanterelle. We bought lots of them at the Pike Street Market in Seattle. They were delicious!

This one reminded me of a puffball. We used to stomp on them as kids and a big puff of "smoke" would come out of them.

These two were just cute together.

The nest of green moss was nice with these little guys.

This one looked like a big heart.

Life is Good in the Woods!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nature Study

Yesterday, H and I headed out to our favorite walking spot. I found a wealth of photo ops in nature.

The goldenrod was everywhere. This shot of the goldenrod in the foreground and the sailboats in the background intrigued me.

The rugosa rose hips peeked shyly from behind the goldenrod.

The sun was shining on this huge mushroom.

And speaking of sunshine, look how it dances and sparkles on the water!

This little waterfall was hidden among the tree roots.

The pink granite coast of Schoodic is always beautiful.

Back home, the deck plants are really popping despite the deluge of rain in the past few weeks.

The morning glories have almost hidden the fountain in the background!

The goldenrod signals the summer coming to an end and with all the rain we've had lately, we can certainly hope for a beautiful, colorful autumn. Here's keeping our fingers crossed!

Life is Good!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Reggie's Way - Again!

Last year, I posted about a "safari" with our friends into the wilds of Maine on the back logging roads, whereupon we found a most unusual sign over a tub filled with sodas and being kept cool by a constantly, cold, dripping spring. Click here to see the previous post. The sign pointed the way to Reggie's Way, but it being later in the day and a wonderful meal awaiting us, we did not explore further.

This year, however, we ventured forth farther into the woods to seek out this person called Reggie. We just followed the signs...

If you look closely, you'll see that the fisherman is a skeleton!

What a delightful surprise was in store for us. Not only did we find and chat with Reggie, but we were treated to a tour of her and Chip's "camp". Now for everyone not familiar with Maine lingo, "camp" is the word they use for their getaway places on the beautiful shores of the many ponds and lakes in our State. Reggie's camp is on the shore of Getchell Pond, a favorite hangout of moose and other wildlife.

We were about two minutes too late to see the two moose munching on pond lilies, but the tour of Reggie's garden had lots of whimsical delights.

Reggie and Chip have a "take out" place, so to speak, the menu consisting of mainly red Maine hotdogs and hamburgers with chips and other sides that Reggie may have been in the mood to make on any particular day. We had a light pre-lunch of steamed red hot dogs on toasted buns and some wonderful Tomato Soup Muffins with frosting and pecans. Yum!

After a quick trip to Grand Lake Stream to catch a glimpse of tourists all tricked out in their L.L. Bean duds, we headed back to our friend's camp for a delightful luncheon of Legume Nicoise Salad with lots of cucumbers from their garden along with a nice glass of Chardonnay.

Since I seem to be on a gustatorial bent in this post, here's what H and I did today.

H said since we have lots of cukes and jalapenos in the garden, we should try making his favorite pickle - Italian Gardiniera. So, off we went to the local farmer's market to purchase carrots, cauliflower and red pepper to add to our garden's bounty.

We packed everything into sterilized jars

And ended up with a dozen pints of the Gardiniera. We'll let it sit for a few days and give it a try to see if H added too many jalapenos for my taste. (It's never hot enough for him)

After prepping the pickles, we stopped for a bite of lunch. Today's fare was Pasta Primavera with Shrimp and fresh basil, garlic and onions.

It didn't take long to prepare and was really, really good.

Life is, (burp), Good!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's for Suppah?


Another rainy, dreary day here in the north woods, so what's a girl to do? Why cook and bake, of course!

We rummaged around the freezer to see what needed to be eaten and found two packages of beef, one a small cube steak and the other a package of very thinly sliced round steak, both with dates showing they were coming alarmingly close to being tossed, if not prepared immediately. With neither enough for a meal, I decided to combine them into an old German family recipe called "Geschnetzltes". (Mother, please pardon me if the spelling is incorrect).

This dish consists of beef very thinly sliced into long strips, browned briefly, combined with lots of onion and carmelized into a savory, dark gravy.

While looking through the fridge, I also spied some fresh mushrooms that need to be eaten, so in to the pan they went, sauteed with a little olive oil.

Next, I sliced the beef thinly.... Yes, I know I sliced them on the wrong side of the cutting board, but I bleached it right after cutting the meat.

Brown the meat in a bit of olive oil. The next, and most important ingredient are the thinly sliced onions - lots of them!

Brown the meat and onions slowly, adding broth or water a little bit at a time to help carmelize the onions. This part of the preparation takes time - about 45 minutes to get a nice, dark color to the gravy. As Alton Brown states in his Good Eats show, your patience will be rewarded.

When the meat and onions have browned to your satisfaction, add salt, pepper, bay leaves and a bit of red wine - about a quarter cup for the pan and a few sips for the chef! Simmer everything for another 45 minutes and thicken gravy with a flour and water mixture. I also threw in three frozen cubes of my homemade beef demiglace, but that recipe is a post for another time.

I served this with brown rice and what else, but sauteed yellow squash and zucchini with onions, garlic and fresh basil from the garden. My word, the squash won't quit!

I know, the knife is on the wrong side of the plate, but I was in a hurry to take this picture and eat.

On another subject, last winter, while pawing through the bargain section of the bookstore, I found this really neat book on Yoga. Since we have been getting on a bit in years, H and I had become a wee bit stiff and despite our frequent walks in Acadia, we felt we needed to add to our exercise regimen. This looked like a pretty good way to limber up, so we started doing yoga most mornings to work the kinks out.

We have both been amazed at how much we enjoy it. H used to complain about not being able to back the truck up easily because it was difficult to look over his shoulder. He now finds he's easily able to twist his torso to back up. I, on the other hand just look silly.

Life is Good!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Buggy Saturday

Today, as I walked about the garden, I noticed lots of insects, so I hauled out the old Olympus and proceeded to take a few pics of the beasties and a couple of the natural predators who inhabit the yard.

This liatris hosted a very tattered looking Meadow Fritillary. Perhaps it was fortunate enough to escape an encounter with a hungry bird.

The bee on this Cosmos was small and incredibly fuzzy.

Don't know the name of this butterfly, but it sat quite still on this sunflower.

This was one teeny tiny bee on the Zagreb Coreopsis.

The Hollyhock was host to a wasp.

Something was eating away at my red cabbage until I spread slug bait and sprayed them with insecticidal soap.

Our small pond is host this year to three small, green frogs. When I took this photo, the small one was the only one sunning himself on the rocks. I guess the other two were out lunching on, hopefully, slugs.

The bat house has a resident or two this year! I wasn't sure if we had any until I put a board under their house and found droppings. I attribute the lack of mosquitoes this year to their presence. They will eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes every night, in addition to any other unfortunate insects they encounter. Ya gotta love these little guys!

I also took a few photos of the veggie garden and a few of the currently blooming flowers.

I built this bean tower out of left over wood from the garage project. It ended up looking like a drunken oil derrick, but it serves it's purpose. The beans have not yet begun to bloom, but that should happen any day now, if the sun would just come out of hiding.

These Gloriosa Daisies cropped up everywhere in the rock garden. They are so beautiful and I'm glad I didn't pull all of them out as it looks like a sea of gold and bronze.

The Goldenrod is beginning to fill the fields and the rock garden, as well. Sigh. It's a real indication that summer is slowly winding down. Don't know that I'm quite ready to admit that winter will be upon us before we know it.

This lemon yellow, unnamed daylily gives hope that summer still has a breath or two in her.

Of course, young Mr. Sluggo sleeps the sleep of the innocent, unaware that time is slipping by and soon, he'll be snuggling next to the toasty, crackling wood stove.

Life is Good!