Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mosaic Monday ~Summer Colors

Amazing what a difference a week and a little sun makes in the garden.

New blooms opening up like this astrantia.

Pink spirea fully open now

Spiderwort and lady's mantle both blooming

And these pretty red lilies

The geraniums are going wild this year..they must have liked the rain we had. That's a pink Maltese Cross in the front (Lychnis chalcedonica)

This mountain laurel is hiding behind some other plants, which is sad since its so showy. I'll have to remedy that next year.

I'm so thrilled that the daylilies are starting to the pinks and reds

More geraniums gone wild

This one is called Patricia

Hydrangeas are slowly opening. I love them at this stage. I think I'd like to paint a couple of rooms these same colors..pale yellow and the lightest blue.

Lobelia and saxifrage bloom pretty together

Behind my the "woods" are some wild geranium, commonly known as Herb Robert. Legend has it that fairies live where Herb Robert grows and its bad luck to destroy it. Shhhh...lets not tell the fairies I normally pull it out. It grows happily out back though and I won't bother it.

There are going to be loads and loads of blackberries in a couple of months.

In the front I have some summer color too. This pretty frilly pink clematis is later than my others and still looks fresh and new.

One of our hanging baskets

And the pot that sits below it.

Around back again, another new bloom this week, this cute little potentilla growing amongst this blue geranium variety..maybe Johnson's Blue...then again maybe not!

Hyperion is still blooming and looks stunning against the purple backdrop of clematis 'Etoile Violette '

Under it is growing this little double feverfew that I love.

This Queen Elizabeth rose is beginning the bloom and the flowers are huge!

The birds have been really active the past few weeks. We bought a new finch feeder to hold thistle to replace our sock feeder which was losing seed, but the one below isn't it. The one we bought originally was kind of cheap...all plastic. Well this week Randy noticed the thistle went almost completely down in a day or so, went to fill it and found that someone had cracked and chewed the plastic around the feedholes in a couple of places so that that thistle was free to run out. We still aren't sure what did it...chipmunks maybe? Anyways we bought a new feeder to replace it. Lets see if those little bandits can break this one.

Speaking of birds, we have had a second robin brood hatched in the same nest at the side of our house under our bedroom window in the honeysuckle vine. Today two of the babies flew the nest or were pushed out!! lol

This one landed on the bird bath and sat here for probably a half hour. Funny thing was he was sitting right on the part of the fountain where the water comes out. A little bidet so to speak! We watched him finally get brave and fly a short way.

Then a while later we saw his brother land on the table near the fountain. He was still for a long time but eventually began hop-flying from one side to the other like he was practicing, then finally got the nerve to fly to the butterfly bush. The mother is still around feeding them worms...keeping an eye on them.

Unfortunately for me I've had to keep my outdoor exposure to a minimum this weekend due to the weed/grass pollen which is high. I had a severe hayfever attack yesterday and Randy said I looked like I had gone a couple of rounds with Mike eyes were so swollen and red! So I stayed indoors more the kitchen.

I made this wonderful coffee cake for a late morning treat. It's from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters...I just love that book. I will love munching on this on the way to work this week. The little plate is one I found not too long ago at one of my favorite charity thrift shops, Granny's Attic.

Mary Williams' Coffee Cake with Streusel
from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters

For streusel:

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Place brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a bowl. Work in butter with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add pecans and combine.

For cake:

1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg, beater
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 pan with foil, shiny side up. Coat with butter or vegetable spray.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add sugar. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into dry ingredients. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and combine. Place half of batter in pan. Sprinkle half of streusel on top of batter. Add rest of batter to pan and top with remaining streusel.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until tester inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool on rack completely before cutting into squares.

Lunch was homemade hummus...I even tried my hand at Tahini. That part was pretty much a failure since I couldn't get a good grind on the sesame seeds, but overall it was a success. I'd make it again. I ate it with Jalapeno flavored Kettle Lays.

From Fine Cooking

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 15-1/2-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 Tbs. tahini (see below)

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice; more to taste

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed

Combine the 1/3 cup oil with the garlic and cumin in a small saucepan. Set over medium-low heat and cook until the garlic softens, about 3 minutes from when you can hear the garlic bubbling quickly. Don’t let the garlic brown. Take the pan off the heat and let cool completely.

Put the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, soy sauce, and salt in a food processor. Use a fork to fish the softened garlic out of the oil and transfer it to the processor (reserve the oil). Turn the machine on, let it run for about 20 seconds, and then start slowly pouring the cumin oil through the machine’s feed tube. Be sure to scrape the pan with a rubber spatula to get all of the cumin and oil. Pour 1/4 cup cool water down the tube. Stop the machine, scrape the sides of the bowl, and continue processing until the hummus is creamy and almost smooth. Season to taste with more salt and lemon juice, if you like. For best results, let the hummus sit at room temperature for an hour or two before serving so the flavors can meld. Or better yet, make it a day ahead, refrigerate it and return it to room temperature and adjust the seasonings before serving. To serve, spread hummus in a shallow dish and drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil.


2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup tepid water


Place sesame seeds in a blender or food processor and grind until smooth. Add sesame oil and salt. Process until combined. With the motor running, add the water in a very slow, steady stream and blend until smooth.

Yield: about 1/2 cup

Dinner was shish kabobs! Inspired by the shish kabob insert in Food Magazine this month - 50 kabob ideas. My beef was marinated in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, Tony Chachere's seasoning, onions and garlic salt. I added cooked potatoes, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and pineapples.

And Cauliflower Au Gratin which wasn't half bad for a light dish.

Cauliflower Au Gratin
from Eating Well Jan/Feb 2008 by way of Terra Organics weekly newsletter.

4 cups 1-inch cauliflower florets

1 1/2 cups nonfat milk, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Bring cauliflower, 1 1/4 cups milk and salt to a boil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup cheese and oil in a small bowl. Whisk flour and the remaining 1/4 cup milk in another small bowl until smooth; stir the mixture into the pan and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, chives, mustard and pepper. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Broil until the top is crispy and beginning to brown, 1-2 minutes.

Overall it was a good and colorful weekend :-) I'm joining in on these events:

Mosaic Monday over at Little Red House. Check out all of the beautiful mosaics HERE.

Thrifty Treasures Party over at Southern Hospitality for my little white plate. Check out all of the treasures HERE.

Join me in the fun! I'd love for you to participate in this event with me. Bring your ice cream related posts...anything goes! Tablescapes, recipes, memories, and favorite products will all be welcome. Or anything else you come up with. See you at the parlor!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Flashback Friday ~Kitchen Sink Cookies

I had a daylong series of meetings this week at work that had the potential to be unpleasant...I was delivering results from an audit I did..nothing major but people have a tendency to get defensive. So of course I wanted to be prepared and ward off any ill will. Homemade cookies usually do the trick and this case was no exception. It was a good day, nice people and plenty of mmms and yums! The recipe is one I've made before and its worthy of a flashback (over and over).

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies
from Cookie Madness
I'd like to subtitle these "Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies"!

About 30 cookies
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F or 350 degrees if you’d like softer cookies.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture until well blended. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, pecans and coconut until evenly distributed. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven for a chewy cookie or 14 minutes for a firmer cookie.
Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then remove to wire rack. Cool completely and then store in tightly sealed container.

Suzy’s note: I tried these with a cup of raisins along with the other additions. Over the top on the add ins, but Randy likes raisins. I also had to cook 3 minutes longer in my gas oven.

I'm happy to report that we have turned a corner weather wise here. Yesterday was the first day since mid September that we hit 75. I'm not a heat lover, but I have to say I was so happy to see the sun again. Today was nearly as nice. Keeping my fingers crossed that this keeps up through the weekend. Here are a few shots I snapped this evening after dinner.

Suddenly everything's coming up roses.

Jigsy admiring the flowers

White poppy and Prince Charles

And a red annual poppy that's as tall as me

Pink spirea is blooming pretty

Saxifrage blooms by the bubbling rock

And my LSU flavored irises :-) Goooo Tigers and Gooo Summer!

If you have a flashback of any kind please add your link below then link back to me on your blog.

I'm joining in on Foodie Friday this week over at Designs by Gollum

And Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time

Join me in the fun! I'd love for you to participate in this event with me. Bring your ice cream related posts...anything goes! Tablescapes, recipes, memories, and favorite products will all be welcome. Or anything else you come up with. See you at the parlor!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mosaic Monday ~The Garden Conservancy Open Days

Last Saturday I visited 3 beautiful gardens that were participating in The Garden Conservancy Open Days which benefit gardens in need of additional support. Its kind of like the National Preservation society but for gardens. Pretty cool because I know how much work goes into a small garden and its hard to imagine how a large private one is kept up.

Chase Gardens which is not too far from me benefited from the admissions collected at the participating gardens. I've never visited it, so its next on my garden visiting list! I took so many pictures I figure I better break them down into 2-3 posts.

I'll start with the second garden I visited, which was at the home of the Graham family in Puyallup, Washington. I knew I was in for a treat when I drove up and saw the promised view of Mt. Rainier from the street.

Even the fence intrigued me with its open slats

On approximately one acre, this garden is all about color and texture and light. The walks are covered in cedar shavings and it smelled so nice. The front of the property is on a slope and a path from the drive way leads down.

I was excited to see this Cardiocrinum blooming. Its huge!

The garden is filled with water features

Colorful maples

Like this one in bloom

I was fascinated by the pretty pink flowers

Lots of containers mingled in

And focal points set in just the right way to grab your attention and draw you around the next corner

Lots of resting spots

And almost tropical lushness (especially on a rare sunny day this spring)

Asian touches

Moss covered stones and walkways

Beautiful brickwork

I loved the color contrasts

Heading back up the hill towards the house you begin to get a feel for a little bit of a funky vibe. The tops of the fence posts are painted purple.

The pool is decorated in shades of blue and purple. The pool and the sky seem to be part of the color scheme!

Heading around the to the back of the house you travel through this great pergola which is at least partially covered with grapevines

On the other side you get more of a feel for the purple/blue theme

And here as well

I would never think of using purple pots in my own garden, but it totally works and I love the look.

There's not much grass in this garden, but there is one park like section that was pristinely manicured.

To the rear of the house, more shady gardens

So many really cool piece of garden art through out

I want this sign!!

And this little sign needs to be in my yard! I have said this so many times :-)

To the rear of the property is an opening that belongs to Ernie...the veggie garden. Notice the cool clock?

Ernie made pretty good use of his open area with these curved raised beds

Back around to look at the grass again

And back through the pergola...its such a sweet shady spot

Back to the pool to catch the vista that I missed the first time sure to enlarge so you can see Mt. Rainier in the distance.

I believe the owners must have taken a cue from this clematis which is close to the purple/blue used through out.

There were several example of hypertufa leaves and containers in the garden, but I loved this one the best.

Hope you enjoyed the garden as much as I did! Check out this Garden Conservancy Open Days link to see if there are some gardens in your area to visit and support. Stay tuned for highlights from the other two gardens.

I'm joining in on Mosaic Monday over at Little Red House. Check out all of the other great mosaics HERE.

Join me in the fun! I'd love for you to participate in this event with me. Bring your ice cream related posts...anything goes! Tablescapes, recipes, memories, and favorite products will all be welcome. Or anything else you come up with. See you at the parlor!
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