Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Has Sprung!

And I, for one, am ecstatic and began the day with a colorful plate of fresh Florida strawberries I found earlier in the week.

OK, now that I've calmed down and faced the reality that March is not a spring month in Maine, it's time to at least begin planning the garden.

I had every intention of taking a few of the hardier plants out of the winter garden room downstairs and moving them to the sunny loft in the garage, where I've set up a potting/seeding station, however, when I went outside, I felt it was still just a wee bit too cold. Not to be deterred in my celebration of the Vernal Equinox, I ventured out and cut a few pussy willows that I had spied blooming while on my walk up the drive yesterday.

Just the thing for my Grandmother's vase.

Despite not being able to take anything over to the garage, I brought a couple of overwintered geraniums upstairs to clean them up by removing all the dried leaves and give them a nice watering and bath.

The one on the left has several buds just about ready to bloom, so I put them in front of the south facing sliding glass door in the bedroom so they can soak up the sun.

I also cut back the rosemary sprigs I had rooted last autumn. They look pretty puny, but with a wee bit of good old Miracle Grow, some sun and warmth, they will take off!

I've begun picking up some seeds as I see them on sale in various stores. These are just a few packets, but I have more than I need stashed away!

I'll start putting the cold hardy ones out as soon as we get back from our visit with my Mom and Dad.

Last Sunday, we had a nice warm day and decided we would drive over to Sorrento for a walk to our favorite beach and look for sea glass. Since the tourists have all been gone for the winter and we've had several stormy days, the pickings would undoubtedly be good.

And, I was right! The beach was loaded with glass, but I only picked up ones that were either unusual in color or shape. Brown is all over, but green, white and especially blue are harder to find. We left loads more for the tourists when they return this summer.

H was the winner of the hunt as he found both of the "bluey's!

We also headed over to Bar Harbor on Tuesday to wander the streets and see which stores were open. Most of them were still boarded up for the season, with signs out front stating when they would reopen, but we stopped in to Sherman's Bookstore to browse and then headed to Geddy's for lunch. It's always nice to visit off season and we like to look across the park at the Bar Harbor Inn and reminisce where our adventures all started and we ended up in Maine.

And now, for the cat segment of the post!

Sluggo, it seems, has found a new favorite spot sitting on top of the fridge. He's been looking at how he might make it on top of the cabinets, but I don't think he's quite agile enough to make it. At least not yet!

His Majesty, Spike, just looks bored with the whole thing.

And so ends our first exciting spring day of the year!

Life is Good!

Hugs, Giddy

Sunday, March 08, 2009

It's Thawing Out!

Finally! The weather forecast is showing temperatures in the high 30's and 40's for the foreseeable future. Yesterday, the high temperature was 52 whopping degrees and the sun was high in the sky! Whoohoo! I stood out on the deck, toasting the glowing orb with a nice glass of Merlot and soaked in the Vitamin D. I deliberately ignored the snow still on the ground. The birds were chirping, the squirrels were mincing about and all was right with the world.

However, we are still planning on heading south next January to visit with the kids and grandkids, and maybe miss a bit of the inevitable bad weather of winter. With that in mind, we purchased a nice traveling kitty condo for the boys.

And what a deal we got! This same item sold for $119.00 at Petco. We just happened to be at Ocean State Job Lots last week and found it for $29! Oh, how I love a deal.

Now, if the boys will just agree to enjoy their trip south with us. We've had the condo set up in the living room for a week so they could get accustomed to it. Even threw in a few of Spike's favorite treat of boiled shrimp, however, I think they still remain dubious.

Last night, the boys were entertained by Big Booda, the raccoon who was helping himself to the bird feeder.

I've been frantically knitting, trying to finish most of my UFO's (unfinished objects) and finally put the last touches on my cotton sweater.....

I also finished another market bag for a special person who likes to frequent Friday Green Markets. It should be on it's way in tomorrow's mail!

Last, but not least, we found this cute little guacamole kit at the Bangor Air National Guard Base Commissary. It has all the necessary ingredients; avocados, tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno and lime. All that for only $2.17! I'd show a picture of the resulting guacamole, but we ate it before I remembered the camera. DEELISHUS!

And now, I hate to run, but the sun is shining again! YAY!!!

Life is really, really, good.

Hugs, Giddy

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Giddy's Got the Cookies!

Sigh! Will this winter never end? H and I have always loved the winter months, but this constant onslaught of nor'easters and bitterly cold weather is beginning to wear very thin.

So, what's a housebound gnome to do? Can't get my fingers dirty in the garden yet, so why not play with something chocolate to pretend they are covered in warm, wonderful garden soil.

As you may have noticed in many previous posts, I am a huge fan of Zoe Francois' baking. Her blog, Zoe Bakes is wealth of yummy recipes, helpful hints and makes great reading on a long, snowy day. The other day, she had a recipe for Chocolate Ginger and Grapefruit Biscotti. Perfect! H is of Italian heritage and I love chocolate, ergo, a great combination!

OK, I rooted through the pantry and unfortunately, I did not have crystallized ginger and no candied grapefruit. However, I did have a knob of fresh ginger in the fridge and some dried apricots in the pantry. Perfect!

First, I peeled and diced the fresh ginger, added it to a saucepan with 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar and simmered it until the ginger was soft and the water had all evaporated, leaving a nice, sweet coating on the ginger. I let it cool while I added the rest of the ingredients, substituting diced dried apricots for the candied grapefruit. (see recipe on Zoe's blog).

After shaping the dough into two logs and placing on a parchment paper lined half sheet, I baked them for 35 minutes.....

I let the logs cool for about 1/2 hour and then, with a serrated knife, sliced them and returned the slices to the baking sheet, popped them back into the oven for 15 minutes, turned them over and baked them for an additional 15 minutes.

The resulting biscotti were deeeelicious dunked in a nice morning caffe latte or better yet, a nice glass of wine for a late afternoon break!

Next, H was determined to brave the cold and grill hamburgers. Would I please make some hamburger buns, he asked? No problem, says I.

I think I have this recipe just about down to how I like it. The trick is to make a very loose dough and handle it as gently as possible. The resulting buns are so superior to the ones you get in the store and hold up much better to those nice, juicy burgers.

The tiny Maine shrimp posted on a previous blog came in handy for a salad the other day.

Little Sluggo watched all the goings on from his perch in the kitchen window......

While Spike kept a close watch on Sluggo as he is often the first to find a fun time!

Give a cat a box and he's happy for hours!

And so goes life in the Great Frozen North! Spring is on it's way!

Life is good!

Hugs, Giddy